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Saving Money in Motoring

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Saving Money in Motoring

Louise Connoly
June 6, 2013

Nothing compares to the freedom and excitement that comes with owning and driving a car. With over 30 million drivers in the UK alone, it’s a commodity that is becoming more and more essential in everyday life. But it doesn’t come without it’s costs. You know what they say when it comes to saving the pennies - ‘every little helps!’ With the ever-growing expense that comes with owning a vehicle, it’s a great idea to consider how you can do the essential day-to-day motoring tasks without breaking the bank.

Firstly, while it may not make a noticeable impact to your wallet, economical driving - or ‘green driving’ - saves you money in the long run and is good for the environment. It’s all about conserving fuel, one of the most costly elements of being a driver, and it starts with how you drive. Hard acceleration and sudden braking could use up to 40% more of your precious petrol, so smooth driving is economical in itself. Drive in the highest gear possible at the speed you’re going and avoid excessive speeds. Consider your road positioning for gradual movement. Even closing the windows when travelling above 60 mph will make a difference, as this cuts the aerodynamic drag on the car and lowers fuel usage.

Another massive cost of driving is ensuring the upkeep of the car. It all adds up: the yearly MOT, the diminishing clutch, the fading headlights. Knowing when to look for these issues and how to fix them yourself could mean fewer visits to the garage or paying for a mechanic to have a look. The maximum cost of a yearly MOT is a modest £54.85 for private cars, so it’s usually the cost of repairs that send the price rocketing. 1 in 5 MOTs fail due to a faulty bulb, which can be replaced for a few pounds.

The engine is the heart of the vehicle and, for those who like to get their hands dirty, knowing how it works could be a great money saver. An engine that is poorly maintained can use a colossal 50% more fuel than one which is in top condition, so ensuring it’s ticking over well will save those pennies, as will ensuring your tyres are inflated correctly.

There are things you can do before you even set foot in the car to save money. For example, plan your journey ahead of time to avoid longer routes, or choose quieter times to travel, as hovering on the clutch in rush hour burns more fuel. As does carrying unnecessary weight, such as the golf clubs you haven’t used since the summer or the chunky metal roof rack adding unnecessary resistance. If you need to refuel, hunt around for the lowest fuel prices within your area before you commit.

Finally, an idea that’s forever growing in popularity is car-pooling. Get together with friends, family or neighbours who are heading the same way and share lifts. Although the added weight increases fuel usage, asking for a small donation towards the next refuel isn’t out of the question as it’s cheaper, easier and more pleasant than catching the bus.

There are options available for one-off insurance covers, so why not offer up your car for a small fee when it’s not being used? If you live near popular attractions or venues, there are websites available for advertising a lift share service.

It’s the little things that make the difference and if you consider just a few of them, you’re guaranteed a smoother ride when it comes to saving money when driving.

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