Kevin Pratt: One of the biggest drains on a household budget is the running costs of the family car, and there are four main ways that can possibly help reduce that...
KP: Now, when we talk about fuel type, we’re talking about the choice between a petrol car and a diesel car. Now diesel cars cost more, maybe £1,500-£3,000 more for the equivalent petrol model, but you get much more miles per gallon (MPG) in a diesel – maybe a third more than you would do with a petrol car. But there’s another factor to take into account. Diesel is usually 6p a litre more expensive than petrol.
So there’s a lot of things to weigh up. The number of miles you drive in a year, and what you’re spending at the moment.
In the end, it comes down to whether you’re a fan of petrol cars or diesel cars, but it’s worth taking the costs into account when you make your decision of getting a new car.
KP: Let’s look at fuel consumption, because we all know fuel is expensive. The more fuel you use, the bigger the damage on your bank account. If you’re buying a car, take the MPG it’s going to give you into account. But if you’re not buying a car, you might think ‘well, what can I do to cut fuel consumption on the car I’ve already got?’
There are a number of things that you can do. For instance, the way you drive has a big impact on the amount of fuel that you use. If you accelerate harshly, if you brake harshly, that’s going to push up your fuel consumption. The faster you go, the more fuel you use. If you’re on a motorway doing 70mph – the most you should do – you use 10% more fuel than you would at 60mph. If you push it up to 80mph – which you shouldn’t do! – that’s another 10% fuel that you’re using. So think about your fuel use and also think about the safety. Stick to the limits and save money.
Your tyres also have an impact on the amount of fuel that you use. If your tyres are underinflated, there’s more friction between them and the road, and that means your engine has to work harder to do the same amount of distance. You need to make sure that your tyres are properly inflated.
Finally, the weight of your car has an impact on your fuel use. Take any heavy items out of the boot or foot-well’s. Take the roof rack or boxes off – not only are they weight pushing the car down and making the engine work harder, they also increase the aerodynamic resistance which means you’re pushing into the wind and that slows you down and uses more fuel.
KP: Let’s have a look at car tax. The amount of tax you pay is usually determined by the amount of CO2 emissions that come out of your car. The lower the CO2 emissions, the lower your tax. If they’re below 100g/km, you don’t pay any car tax. If they’re above 255g/km, you can pay up to £1,090 a year. So that’s something you need to take into account when you’re buying a car.
KP: Big part of running costs – car insurance. Here’s five quick things that you can do.
- You can add a named driver to your policy – an experienced driver will reduce the costs of the cover.
- If you can park in a garage or off-road overnight.
- You can boost the security measures on your car to reduce the risks of it being stolen.
- You can drive fewer miles in a year.
- Most importantly when it comes to renewal, shop around.
The cost of car insurance has actually fallen in recent years, but you won’t see the full benefit of that unless you shop around at renewal time, and find the company that’s offering you the best cover at the best price.