Running a car is becoming increasingly expensive. With insurance and petrol prices hitting your wallet hard, here are 12 simple tips to lowering the cost of keeping your car on the road.
This article has been contributed by our friends at www.money.co.uk
1. Find a reliable local garage
In general, a local independent garage will be cheaper than a dealership. The key is finding a garage that you can trust so, if you try a garage for the first time and are presented with a long list of work that needs doing, go elsewhere for a second opinion. You will then know if the first garage is trustworthy and be able to compare the prices .
2. Check your owner’s manual
Your owner's manual will give you an idea when major parts need replacing. Consider a pre-emptive trip to your garage to avoid being stranded roadside and landed with a huge repair bill.
3. Keep your service history intact
Although having your car serviced each year is costly, it will preserve the resale value and will ensure that potential problems are caught early. For newer cars, a full service history may be a requirement of your warranty.
Decide whether you want to use an authorised dealership – which may look better in your car's logbook, or a local garage – which is likely to be cheaper.
Check your owner’s manual for the recommended service intervals – usually a certain number of miles or a certain period of time.
4. Regularly check your oil, coolant & brake fluid
Keeping your fluid levels topped up is one way of making sure that your car continues to run smoothly and avoid unnecessary repair costs.
Use the dipstick under the bonnet to check your car’s oil level at least once a month. Coolant and brake fluid do not need to be checked as often but refer to your owner’s manual for instructions.
5. Check the tyre pressure
Checking your tyre pressures, ideally once a month and before any long distance journeys, will save fuel and extend the life of your tyres.
Under inflated tyres require more energy and fuel to turn the wheels. Over inflated tyres cause extra wear and reduces their lifespan.
You should also take the opportunity to check your tread depth to ensure that the tyres are safe and legal. The UK limit is 1.6mm depth over 75% of the tyre surface although you should try to replace tyres before this level.
6. Order replacement tyres online
Whilst you should never try to save money by ignoring worn tyres, you can cut the cost of new tyres by buying them online.
Compare the different types of tyre on offer, rather than being lured into fitting the latest F1 tyres on your 3 door hatchback.
Some online tyre sites will give you a quote for fitting at their partner garages. If you are going to use your local garage, check the total cost – it may still be cheaper to have the garage supply the tyres.
7. Get your tracking checked
Extend the life of your car’s suspension and tyres by ensuring that your tracking – the angles of your wheels - is aligned correctly.
Many garages offer to check your tracking for free, but this can often be a ploy to find other work that needs doing ! Remember, that you are under no obligation to agree to any additional work suggested by the garage.
8. Haggle over price
Do not be afraid to negotiate over the initial price quoted for car repairs. Ask for a breakdown of all the required work and how they have come up with the cost. Get several quotes from other garages and use the cheapest quote as a haggling tool.
9. Book your MOT online with your annual service
The cost of an MOT can vary dramatically depending on where you take your car. In most cases, booking online can save you time and money, as you can search for local garages and compare the different offers available.
Most garages do not charge you for re-testing as long as the required work is completed on site and within a certain amount of time. However, it is always worth checking before booking your test.
You can often make further savings by booking your MOT with your annual service - in some cases you may even get the MOT for free by doing this.
10. Source your own car parts
If you find that your car needs some work, you can often cut costs by sourcing the required parts yourself.
Get a full quote - for parts and labour - from nearby garages and then ask for the cost of just fitting the parts alone. Note that some garages charge more for fitting parts that they have not supplied.
You may then be able to get the parts you need from a local scrap merchant at knock down prices or online from a parts supplier or an auction site.
11. Order your car tax annually
Paying for your car tax annually will save you money as long as you can do so without going into debt.
Ensure that your tax disc is valid; penalties for driving without a tax disc include a fine of at least £1,000 and the possible seizure and destruction of your car.
12. Extend your warranty
For peace of mind an extended warranty will protect you against the costs of repairs should something big go wrong. However, like any insurance policy you may end up paying for something that you never use.
Do your research so that you know exactly what is included and the likelihood that you would use it. It is worth researching the type of faults that commonly occur with your make and model of vehicle and making sure these are covered by the warranty. You should also check whether wear and tear is covered, whether you will need to pay an excess and whether you get to choose which garage does the repairs.
If the warranty company specify the garage to be used, make sure the policy actually covers the labour rate per hour.
For older cars or those with higher mileage you'll need to check whether you have to contribute towards the cost of parts and whether new or reconditioned parts will be used.
Essentially you need to consider if the peace of mind of an extended warranty is going to save you money.
If you do pay out for a warranty, make sure you adhere to any servicing and maintenance requirements so that your claim will actually be paid when something goes wrong.
|Comments||Post a comment|
15 July 2011, 12:15PM
Most of these so called money saving tips are just rubbish or common sense. The only sensible point is to buy cars that are appropriate for the car.
15 July 2011, 12:41PM
I set out to try and maintain my car myself but found that to do that I needed and older car with accessible components. This has now become a hobby and I am certain that it is something that many other people could do.
19 July 2011, 02:12PM
I am one of the lucky people who have a husband in the motor trade so the worry is taken away from me. I tread to think how I would cope if he was not and I had to deal with the maintenance of a car, but I think the tips above are would be very useful.
21 July 2011, 02:15PM
I had always used a small local garage that was a family run business. Unfortunately due to the lack of trade as many car owners now tend to go to main dealerships, it has been forced to close so I now to will have to take some of the tips above.
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