Owning a car is expensive, but not everyone can ditch their four wheels in favour of public transport or their own steam. Thankfully, our research has shown there are plenty of ways for you to bring your motoring costs down.
If you're spending more on your car each month than you'd like to, making small changes can still have a big impact.
Below, we've rounded up four ways you can lower your expenses, plus report the extra charges you need to watch out for. We also reveal how much more you can save if you can swap to an electric car.
If you want to ease the pressure on your bank balance, make sure you're buying the cheapest petrol or diesel available.
We suggest ditching so-called 'premium' fuels. You're only likely to benefit from super unleaded, for example, if you have a very high performance car.
Filling up with your weekly supermarket shop can often be cheaper than using an oil company's own forecourt. Last year, we . We found that if you fill up at a supermarket forecourt, compared with other forecourts, you could cut your fuel costs*:
If you collect reward points from Sainsbury's and Tesco, you could lower your costs further. Clubcard and Nectar holders can also earn points at most Esso stations.
You may also need:Fresh tyres
Driving on underinflated tyres will cause drag, which reduces fuel efficiency and causes them to wear out faster. Check your car's handbook for details on the ideal tyre pressure. When shopping for a new set, using a nationwide fitter rather than a main dealer could help you reduce costs. You may also want to buy your tyres online and get them installed by a local garage.
If you're looking for a new car, picking the right one could deliver the biggest savings. You need to think about whether you really need that thirsty SUV - and whether it's time to go electric.
To see how much you could save with an electric vehicle, we compared running costs for a medium to large SUV driving 9,000 miles a year. As our table below shows, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) - provided you regularly charge it - or a fully electric vehicle (EV) can deliver big savings.
When , make sure you plan ahead so you don't always need to hunt for the very quickest chargers - slower chargers can be cheaper or even free (such as in the case of Pod Point 7-22kW chargers at some supermarkets). Just make sure you avoid firms that charge by the minute.
Going electric means you won't have to pay any road tax. And as of April 2020, electric cars are no longer liable for the expensive car supplement either - buyers of other cars, including plug-in hybrids, have to pay more if their vehicle costs more than £40,000.
Some local authorities also offer free and discounted parking permits for free and low-emission vehicles.
You may also need:A wallbox charger
You can charge an EV or PHEV from a wall socket, but it could take 25 hours or longer. Getting a wallbox charger can more than halve that. The Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme is a grant covering 75% of the cost, up to £350; you get the grant through your installer.
The results of the latest Which? car survey revealed that most vehicle breakdowns (37%) happen at home.
Unfortunately, breakdown providers are well aware that you're more likely to need their help on your own doorstep - that's why most basic packages don't include at-home breakdown cover.
If you're forced to upgrade from a basic policy to one that covers you at home, your annual payment will rise by up by 48% on average.
With car insurance costing £468 a year on average, according to the Association of British Insurers, it's a driving expense that can't be ignored.
Rather than automatically renewing, try to shop around. Even if you're reluctant to switch, having cheaper quotes to hand can help you haggle with your current insurer.
You can use comparison sites, but also get quotes from insurers that aren't on them.
You can reduce your premium by buying insurance a few weeks before cover begins, paying annually rather than monthly or by removing unnecessary add-ons from your policy. If you live in a multi-car or multi-generational household, look into multi-car policies and adding named drivers.
* (Based on the average annual mileage (9,000 miles) from our UK general public survey, and respondents' preferred models of car.)