Cutting The Costs Of Motoring

Posted on: 30 July 2009 by Gareth Hargreaves

The costs of motoring just seem to rise and rise. If it isn't the price of petrol, it's a new congestion charge scheme or motorway toll.

We show you five ways to cut the costs of travelling by road.

Join A Car Club

If you only need to use a car occasionally, consider joining a car club.

"If you live in a town or city and don't use your car that much this may be the answer for you," says Adrian Tink, RAC motoring strategist. "You pay a membership fee and hire a fully insured and taxed car by the hour when you need it – most will also throw in £50 of petrol. But beware – if you are looking to rent for just a day or overnight, then traditional car hire will probably work out cheaper."

There are many car clubs around the country – you can see a list at, which estimates that people who drive less than 6,000 miles a year could save £3,500 a year. It is usually possible to join online or by phone. You can then book cars online, by text or by telephone, just a few minutes before you need one, or up to a year in advance.

Most people will find a designated car club parking bay within 10 minutes' walk, from where cars can be collected.

You usually pay an hourly rate, which includes mileage up to a pre-agreed distance. Most car clubs issue a monthly statement detailing the time and mileage you have driven, and payment can be made by direct debit, pay-as-you-go, or by the hour. Costs vary according to the club and the tariff you choose.

You can also save on the costs of running a car or taking individual trips by linking up with more than 320,000 drivers through

Shop Around For Fuel

Avoid buying petrol on a motorway. To find the cheapest petrol, put your postcode into

"Only a few retailers price petrol nationally," says Tink.

Regular Maintenance

The RAC and AA recommend regular servicing to improve fuel efficiency. If you ring round for the best servicing price, make sure you don't invalidate your warranty by using a non-approved garage.

The AA says regular tyre pressure, oil, water and coolant level checks will avoid large bills later.

Cut Fuel Consumption

There are lots of ways to keep consumption to a minimum. According to research from the RAC, British drivers waste the equivalent of 267 Olympic-size swimming pools of petrol through poor journey planning.

Remove anything weighty that you don't need to carry around. Take off the roof box if you're not using it. Similarly, keeping the windows open will increase consumption.

Edmund King, AA president, says: "Recently, 50 AA employees took part in an eco-driving experiment. Each drove normally for the first week and then applied our advice to see how much they could save in the second week. The group saved an average 10 per cent on their weekly fuel bill, with the best achieving a 33 per cent saving."

Tink adds: "Driving at 70mph rather than 85, is up to 25 per cent more efficient and also happens to be legal." The RAC suggests reversing into a parking space – reversing out when the engine is cold uses up to 25 times more petrol than going forward. Switch off air conditioning, which increases fuel consumption by up to 10 per cent.

Cut The Cost Of Insurance

"Running a car is usually the second biggest household expense," says King. "So the scope for saving is huge. You can save up to a third off insurance by phoning around or going on the web – up to an extra £240 in your pocket for a few minutes' work."

Price comparison websites such as or allow you to compare premiums. Some insurers, such as Direct Line, do not feature, however, so you will need to check premiums separately. Most people review their details every three years, but you could cut costs by doing it more frequently.

"If, in a bid to save money, you don't think you'll be going abroad in the next 12 months on holiday, then you won't need additional driving abroad cover," says Tink.

Keep within the speed limit – you'll not only save on speeding fines, but having two or more convictions can add 20 per cent to your premium.

Check your annual mileage on your MoT certificate, to ensure you have not insured your car to drive thousands of miles a year more than you actually do. If you have a garage, keep your car in it rather than household junk – this will reduce premiums.

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