We’ve all had those heart-sinking conversations with a mechanic. You know the ones, where he rubs his chin, kicks the tyres, shakes his head and says: “This is going to be a big job.”
You might see your car as nothing more than a metal money pit, but there are small things you can do to avoid forking out on avoidable repairs. When it comes to cars, prevention is better than cure: if you look after your car, it will look after you (and your money).
Don’t worry, you don’t have to be ‘into cars’ to be a savvy driver. It’s easy to give your car a little TLC. We’ve put together some car lovin’ tips to help keep you on the road for less.
How to Save Money on Your Car – 10 Easy Ways
1. Start With Your Monthly Car Costs
Before you get your head under the bonnet, look at how much you spend on insurance and fuel each month.
If you have been with the same insurance company for a long time, compare prices online and look for a cheaper deal.
Go for a no frills deal and if possible, pay in one go. Paying by direct debit can add up to 20% to your annual spend in interest and charges. Ring your existing insurance company to see if they can better the price – there’s no harm in haggling.
To save on fuel, don’t use premium fuels and search for cheap fuel near you with the PetrolPrices app. Also keep an eye on supermarket deals and avoid filling up at motorway service stations where they jack up the price.
2. Save With Regular MOTs And Servicing
If your car is three years old or over, you are legally required to get an annual MOT test. Garages can charge up to the maximum of £54.85 for an MOT test but there are some great discounts to be had.
For instance, between now and the 14th of October, Halfords are offering a FREE MOT with anything you buy in store (apart from carrier bags!) which can be redeemed at any Halfords Autocentre over a 13-month period. Find out more about this fantastic offer here.
A MOT test is a must by law but servicing your car is optional. However, an annual service is one of the best ways to keep your car running for longer.
A basic service costs around £125 but if you shop around online you can find cheaper deals and offers. A good service record will also bump up the resale value of your car.
3. Cheap As Chips
If your windscreen has a tiny chip, don’t ignore it. Get any chips repaired immediately to avoid it spreading into a crack. Cracked windscreens are dangerous and can be costly to replace.
4. Find a Good Mechanic
Before booking your car in, research local mechanics, read reviews and ask local people about their experiences, recommendations or horror stories. If a price or repair sounds dodgy, always get a second opinion.
5. Be a Dipstick
No one is expecting you to become an expert grease monkey but learning the basics of car maintenance and how to do simple repairs can save you hundreds.
Use online how-to guides to teach yourself to change tyres, top up fluids, replace light bulbs and windscreen wipers.
6. Keep It Fluid
Maintaining your car’s fluids at the right levels will help keep your car running smoothly. If your car gets low on oil, the engine can seize up and end up costing you dearly.
Simply keeping your car’s oil, coolant and water topped up can save you a load of hassle, not to mention a heap of cash.
Make it a weekly routine to check tyres and fluids. It takes 5 minutes but it’s worth every second of your time. Read your car manual to make sure you buy the correct type of oil and coolant for your model.
7. Stay Inflated
The RAC say that under inflated tyres can add 2% to your fuel bill. That’s £2 on top of every £100 you spend.
If you clock up loads of miles, it’s like chucking cash out the sunroof. Under-inflated tyres also wear out much quicker, meaning you’ll have to fork out on new ones sooner.
Check your tyre pressure regularly and keeping your wheels topped up. You can find the correct tyre pressure (PSI or Bar) for your make of car in your owner’s manual or on the side of the tyres.
8. Keep It Clean
Join the Sunday car-cleaning hordes and keep your car buffed and sparkling. Not only will a clean car look great, but removing grime, bird poo and tree sap will stop rust forming on the bodywork.
9. Scrapheap Challenge
If your car needs a repair, ask your mechanic for a cost breakdown of the parts needed, then try sourcing cheaper parts yourself on eBay or at your local breakers yard.
Ask your mechanic if they will fit the part you have found, as long as the part is in good nick, they might do a deal.
10. Drive Smarter
Driving smarter saves you cash by prolonging the life of your car. Use the gears for the speed you do.
Simply pulling off smoothly and lowering your overall speed not only reduces the wear and tear on your car but can prevent accidents, which are not just bad for your wallet but also your health.
Over to you: Do you have any car maintenance money-saving tips to add to our list? Any budding mechanics out there? Share with us here!