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Top 10 Tips
No matter how you source and fund your vehicle you will need to factor into your budget the other running costs for the vehicle including:
Insurance premiums are based on a number of different factors which usually fall into one of two categories, car and driver.
Under the car category providers will take into account the specific model you have chosen, its size, risk category, fuel type, engine size and others.
For the driver they will consider your age, any medical conditions you have disclosed, your driving history, including any driving convictions, years you have been driving, any other insurance policy you have or are listed on, your previous no claims discount.
As there are so many different factors that are taken into consideration there is not a lot you can do to reduce your premiums, especially as any impact you can have will usually need a considerable length of time in order to take effect.
If you own the vehicle you will need to pay the full amount for the road tax of your vehicle. Depending on the model you have chosen and the size of its engine this can be a few hundred pounds annually.
You can pay via direct debit over a set number of payments or in one upfront payment for the year.
When you lease a vehicle the road tax will be paid by the lease funder at the amount that it was first taxed. If there is an increase in the amount of road tax payable on the vehicle during your lease then you may be charged for the difference.
All vehicles need regular servicing and maintenance work in order to ensure they are in top running condition.
We recommend servicing the vehicle in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines, which will usually be annually or a certain mileage. Most modern vehicles will pop up with a light on the dashboard when they require a service, though this might not always happen.
Whenever you notice a fault with or damage to your vehicle you should always get this checked as soon as you are able to. This will minimise the cost of further damage to the vehicle as well as ensure it is safe for you and your passengers.
All vehicles over three years old will require an MOT annually.
If you purchase a car or lease one for three years or longer then you will need to factor in the cost of the MOT, as well as any repairs that are required if it fails the test. Depending on whether it needs any work completing this can add up.
The most regular of car related payments that you will usually be making is for fuel. Depending on the fuel type, number of miles you travel, your engine size, vehicle’s fuel economy and driving style this can be quite costly, which is why we’ve put together our top tips for getting more miles for your money.
This article will focus on traditional fuel types, petrol and diesel, but if you would like to know more about the cost of charging an electric vehicle then take a look at this piece.
Even when you are not moving if your engine is on it will be using fuel. Though this might not be as much fuel as if you were driving it will still reduce the miles per gallon (MPG) your car achieves.
If you are in slow moving stop-start traffic then you might want to consider putting your hand brake on and turning the engine off while stopped for longer periods. This will stop you from using fuel and help maintain or increase the MPG you can achieve.
When stopping to drop someone off / pick them up or waiting in your vehicle for an extended period of time while stationary then we would suggest turning off the engine. Again, this will stop you from using fuel when you are not moving and help improve your fuel usage.
Some modern vehicles come with stop-start technology which automatically reduces the time you spend with your engine idling when in traffic as if correctly used it will turn off the engine when stationary and the brake is applied.
The heavier your vehicle is the more effort that is required to move it, which means more fuel is used.
We recommend trying to keep the vehicle as light as possible and reduce your excess weight.
This could include removing any roof boxes and bike or luggage racks from the vehicle when not in use, taking any unnecessary cargo out of the vehicle and only towing a trailer when you need to use it.
Keeping to the speed limit is not only a legal requirement but also helps with your fuel consumption.
Speeding can significantly increase the amount of fuel your vehicle is using, which is another reason to keep to the speed limit.
If your car offers cruise control then you might consider using this on roads where traffic is moving at a constant speed. We advise setting it a couple of miles below the speed limit in order to ensure you are not speeding.
Rapid and harsh braking and acceleration require a lot of engine power, and this uses more fuel to action than a steadier press of the pedals.
Though it cannot always be avoided anticipating and preparing for the traffic ahead can help you with smoother braking and acceleration. For example, if you can see several traffic lights over a short distance or a long queue of traffic rather than gaining some speed then having to stop repeatedly try travelling at a slower speed and gently apply the brakes as needed.
As mentioned above regular servicing and maintenance will keep your vehicle in top condition making it as safe and efficient as possible.
When a vehicle is in its best running condition it will be at its most fuel efficient as well.
Again, we advise servicing your car in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines and getting any maintenance work completed as soon as you are able to after noticing it is needed.
We recommend checking your tyres regularly for a number of reasons, one of which is that when your tyres are not inflated to the recommended level it can reduce your fuel efficiency by as much as five per cent.
We advise you to check your tyre pressure once a month and you can find a detailed guide to doing so here.
The more aerodynamic a vehicle is the better the fuel economy will be, this is one of the reasons that the fastest cars on the market tend to be smaller with a sleeker body shape.
When your car windows are open it increases the drag on the vehicle and stronger wind resistance, which means it takes more effort for your vehicle to move at the same speed and so more fuel is needed to power this.
In general, having your windows open at lower speeds doesn’t have a huge impact, however we recommend closing the windows at 40 mph and over.
Heating and air conditioning, on warmer days, uses engine power to operate their systems to keep you at the optimum temperature which means that they use fuel. The impact on your MPG is especially noticeable when you are travelling at lower speeds.
However, we still recommend using the air conditioning or heating over opening the window to change the vehicle temperature.
Another thing that can make your engine work harder than it needs to be is having dirty air filters, and harder work for the engine means less MPG for your car.
You should follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to change these as needed to ensure you get as many miles out of a full tank as you can.
A hot engine is a more efficient one as your car battery works better in warmer temperatures.
Depending on the time of the year the starting temperature of your vehicle and its engine might be fairly cold, which is why we recommend combining journeys where you can into one longer trip. This will keep your engine warm and so working more efficiently and using less fuel.
There are a few other habits you can do to help keep your fuel bill down, and although they didn’t make it into our top 10 we still think it’s worth a try.
Many petrol stations, especially those attached to a supermarket, offer a rewards scheme that can give you cheaper fuel. For example, some of the most popular supermarkets have an offer for if you spend a certain amount in store then you’ll receive a discount at the petrol pump.
Local garages and chains might offer a scheme for loyal customers, like fill up five times and get a discount on your next visit.
Even when you don’t think you’re applying pressure, keeping your foot resting against the brake pedal can cause mechanical drag which reduces your fuel economy. We recommend keeping your foot off the brake pedal entirely unless you are actively braking.
Once you’ve stopped the flow of fuel at the petrol pump you should hold the nozzle in place for a little longer and even give it a little tap or shake to ensure you get every last drop. This won’t massively increase your fuel efficiency but will give you a little extra.
When your car is turned on, the vehicle gets a little hotter and if your fuel cap is not tightened fully then you might lose some fuel from it through evaporation.
You should tighten the fuel cap as much as possible when you’ve finished at the petrol tank so that it is fully secure, and when the vehicle cools down any fuel that evaporated will return to liquid in the tank.
The best way to save money on fuel is to use as little as possible.
If you are just travelling a short distance and do not need to carry a heavy load then consider if you really need to drive or you could walk or cycle it. Alternatively, if it is a journey you regularly make, like going into the office, then you might consider travelling with someone you can carpool with, taking it in turns to drive and therefore cutting down on your fuel bill.
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