For most of us, driving eats up a big part of our budget. We’ve put together a few tips to help you pinch the pennies and hopefully make running your car a bit cheaper!
What are you driving?
Let’s get this (obvious) one out of the way first. If you’re driving a big SUV, it’s probably not going to get the same economy as a small city car or even a hybrid or electric car. If you don’t need all that space regularly, it can often work out cheaper to run a small car and call a taxi or hire a van when you need the space.
Even better, if you have a small car then you can use roof boxes or cycle carriers and still take all of your stuff with you if you want to go on holiday! Obviously swapping cars is a bit of an extreme change – so here are some tips for making the most of what you’ve got…
How are you driving?
The easiest and cheapest way to save a bit of money while you’re driving is to have a think about how you’re driving. Accelerating hard uses much more petrol than gently getting up to speed, and if you’re braking hard a lot, you’re wasting a lot of energy (as well as wearing out your brake pads!).
Try to drive smoothly, and look at the road ahead to anticipate things that might cause you to have to slow down or speed up. You might be surprised how much of a difference you can make! If you want to go one step further, studies have shown that the music you listen to can have an effect on how you drive – so less of the speed metal and more of the easy listening!
Roof racks, roof boxes and cycle carriers are a great way to carry more stuff with your car (and are a brilliant option if you want to drive a smaller fuel-efficient car while still being able to carry a lot of stuff!). However, if you’re not using them, they’ll just be causing extra drag and making the car less fuel-efficient. So take them off!
Similarly, any extra weight you’re carrying will hurt your wallet. It’s a good idea to hold onto a few essentials to deal with breakdowns, but leaving things in the boot that don’t need to be there will add weight and cost you money to lug around.
Look after your car and it’ll look after you
If your tyres are at the wrong pressure, they’ll be less efficient. This can make a huge difference to your miles per gallon! Top up the air in your tyres using a tyre inflator every couple of weeks to make sure they’re still at the right pressure (which should be printed in your car’s handbook or on the the inner edge of your car door frame). Things like a clogged air filter may also reduce your car’s efficiency, so keeping on top of smaller bits of maintenance can save you money in the long run.
Of course, looking after your car in general can save you a nasty repair bill that might come from neglecting it, so make sure to keep on top of it!
Thinking outside the box
Another really simple way of saving loads of money is to share a lift with someone who lives and works near you. An even cheaper way would be to cycle or walk when possible, or see if public transport can save you some money. You might even end up fitter at the end of it!