Drive down your motoring costs

Drivers are feeling the pain as the cost of motoring races away with researchers claiming the annual bill has increased by more than 50 per cent in the past 10 years.

Analysts say the family now spends almost £2,200 a year keeping a car on the road compared to the £1,409 it cost in 1997.

The 56 per cent increase is due to rising bills for maintenance, servicing, insurance, tax and fuel for the typical car. And last month’s Budget has piled on the pressure with family saloons such as the Vauxhall Astra, Ford Focus and Saab all being hit by changed in car tax.

If £2,200 sounds like a big bite out of your budget then the bad news is that it’s not the whole bill. That is the price before you take into account the effects of depreciation which can wipe hundreds or thousands off the value of your car.

You can’t steer clear of all the costs of running a car – you have to buy petrol, pay tax and buy insurance if you want your motor to keep running legally.

But can help you avoid some of the bigger bills..


Car trouble

Petrol and oil costs have increased by 52 per cent in the past 10 years while the average annual cost of maintenance and servicing has grown from £382 to £631 which is an increase of 65 per cent in 10 years.

Insurance and tax costs have rocketed by 65 per cent from an average £395 to £601 which equates to a rise of 52 per cent.

Premium pressure

Analysts at Datamonitor are predicting the car insurance industry will drive into profit in 2009 as the days of cheaper deals ends – that’s good for insurers but not so good for insurance customers.

Experts say that rising numbers of claims for damage and increasingly for personal injuries in car accidents mean that for every £100 the motor insurance industry takes in it pays out £112 in claims.

That means that in order to get back into profit premiums will have to rise by 20 per cent by 2009. The AA says premiums will rise by at least six per cent this year on top of average increases of six per cent last year.

Insure a good deal

Always look at the total cost of your premium. And always get as many quotes as possible by using an insurance comparison website such as

Don’t just accept the offer from your existing insurer when it comes time to renew. Insurers are keen to win new business and will offer better deals to bring in new customers.

Take a higher voluntary excess – the amount you are willing to pay for any claim – and drive fewer miles a year if possible. Insurers base their prices on how far you drive so will reduce the price for those driving less.

Don’t modify your car if you can avoid it. Insurers say fashion items such as tinted windows and alloy wheels will add to your premium.

Premium pricing

You can consider ideas such as joining a car club in which you don’t own a car but share it with others.

To be eligible to join a car club you must usually be aged over 21 and have held your licence for at least a year, but each club will have its own rules. The website has a calculator to help you work out exactly how much you could save using a car club car.

For those who need their own car and are concerned about soaring petrol prices, the website enables you to find the lowest UK petrol prices in your area, and includes information from 9,763 petrol stations.

To use the site, you put in your postcode, and it shows the highest, lowest and average prices for unleaded, diesel, super and liquefied petroleum gas in your area. You have to register on the site to find out where you can buy the cheapest fuel, but this is free and you will get regular updates on fuel prices in your area.

You can increase fuel efficiency by regularly checking your tyre pressure – low air pressure can increase fuel consumption by up to 10 per cent, and by watching your speed. Driving at 70 miles per hour can consume almost 25 per cent more fuel than driving at 50 miles per hour.

Check the small print

When you’re paying for insurance always ask the company if there’s a charge for paying by direct debit. Ask for a quote for paying the full sum upfront and for paying monthly.

It can make sense to pay the whole lot in one go – you could even use a zero per cent credit card to make the payment and then pay it back during the zero per cent period.

It can even make sense to use your credit card as the average rate of 16.9 per cent will be cheaper than the charge imposed by the insurer.

Shop around

Always look at the total cost of your premium.

And always get as many quotes as possible by using an insurance comparison website such as

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