Running and maintaining a car comes with unavoidable expenses, but there are plenty of ways to trim these costs.
We know because every month we survey thousands of Which? members to see how they save money on everyday bills, services and purchases. You can see the full range of our members’ money-saving tips by subscribing to Which? Money magazine.
In March 2015, we asked 552 members how they cut the costs associated with their car. Here’s a selection of their best ideas.
Find out more: 50 ways to save money – our all-inclusive guide
Breakdown cover that doesn’t break the bank
Some sort of breakdown cover is essential for all drivers, but that doesn’t mean you have to buy one direct from a breakdown service.
Many members said they saved money by getting car breakdown cover with their packaged bank account.
Don’t take out a packaged account just for one benefit, though. Which? research has shown it only makes sense if you’ll use at least one more, such as travel insurance, as well as the breakdown cover.
Although official car dealers can be more expensive than independents for servicing, they can give you breakdown cover benefits too.
One Which? member told us he saved £75 by arranging his car breakdown cover through a separate product.
Find out more: Haggling over car breakdown cover – use our script to secure a discount
Don’t dismiss independent garages
Getting your cars serviced by an independent garage, rather than a dealer attached to a car manufacturer, was one of the most commonly mentioned ways of saving money.
The only downside could be not getting an official dealer’s stamp in the service-record book, which could affect the resale price of the car.
One Which? member told us he saved £120 using an independent garage for his MOT.
Find out more: How to find a good garage – useful advice for motorists
Take the pain out of parking
We had plenty of responses from Which? members about their parking schemes available from their local council.
One Which? member he told us saves more than £200 a year by purchasing an annual off-peak parking ticket, which can be used before 10am and after 3pm in most of his hometown’s car parks.
Others told us they park in their friends’ driveways whenever they can, or look for cheap parking spaces to rent on websites such as justpark.com.
Find out more: How to appeal a parking ticket – know your rights
Reap rewards to fund your fuel
Using supermarket loyalty cards when you fill up your car has helped many Which? members cut costs at the petrol pumps.
Most supermarket petrol stations will let you earn loyalty points whenever you fill up your tank.
You can usually use vouchers earned from gaining these loyalty points to get a discount on your petrol.
Several members also told us they use petrolprices.com to find the cheapest petrol station in their area, with some claiming it saves them up to £85 a year.
Find out more: Loyalty cards – we round up the cards on offer