In the past month, the press has reported that a third of households are in ‘transport poverty’ – spending more than 10% of their income on transport costs – and we have also been told that our cars aren’t actually reaching the Miles Per Gallon (MPG) that we were told they could achieve. They are some pretty hard home truths, particularly for those that can’t afford not to have a car.
Bearing these stories in mind, we have reached a point in motoring history where cars have never been so efficient and eco-friendly. In fact, car tax reflects this and rewards ‘greener’ cars with a lower tax bracket, with many cars now at £20 for the full year – almost £100 less than the national average.
With more city cars and smart cars on the road than ever before, it’s true that collectively the roads are more efficient. But, as some motors don’t appear to be reaching the magical MPG that they are sold with, they’re not as financially beneficial as they should/could be.
Money is tight, wages have been frozen, and transport costs are on the rise. These bleak home truths are unfortunately not in our control for the most part. But, there may be certain things we can change in order to keep costs to a minimum when it comes to running a car.
1. Maintain your car. Clear out the car have it serviced as soon as the light comes on and check your tyres on a regular basis. Carrying excess baggage or driving with low tyres can make your engine work harder, consuming more fuel as it goes.
2. Stick to the speed limits. This may sound obvious but most people will have sped up when in a rush only to slam on the breaks at a red light a few yards down the road. Not only is this considered dangerous driving, but it is also an enormous drain on your fuel.
3. Plan ahead. Don’t leave it until the last minute to top up the tank. Areas such as motorways and busy main roads add a few pence per litre to the price of fuel, essentially taking advantage of the fact that you have no choice but to pay it – especially if you don’t think you’ll make it to another station! Top up before you get to this ‘point of no return’ and save.
4. Don’t rule out supermarkets. Filling up your tank when you do the weekly shop can provide multiple savings. They generally supply cheaper fuel and if reward cards are available you could end up knocking a few quid off your shopping bill at the same time. Double savings.
5. Only use the car if you need to. This should be obvious but sometimes a warm car can be far more appealing than walking 10 minutes in the rain. However, not is this lazy, but cars are actually least efficient on short journeys. Grab your brolly and get walking.