10 ways to cut down on your motoring costs
It's no secret that owning a car is expensive. Whether resting on your driveway or eating the miles on the motorway, your car is costing you money. So from avoiding unnecessary parking charges to reducing your insurance premium, we have 10 tips to make driving a more economical option.
With fuel prices on the rise, it pays to compare the cost at different garages. Use websites such as pumps.ie to find the cheapest petrol or diesel in your area. Remember, from golf clubs to an unused roof rack - extra weight means higher fuel consumption. Many petrol stations offer loyalty schemes/cards which give you a little bit back in the way of points, gifts or cash every time you fill up.
Applegreen give four points for every one euro spent. All AA customers can now get a free AA Fuel Card. And that's not all: Topaz are now also giving customers double saving with 4c off per litre of petrol and diesel in Topaz garages across the country until March 31 as part of their AA Fuel Card. Also, senior citizens can avail of 2c per litre off pump prices for diesel and petrol if they are holders of an Active Retirement Ireland Fuel Card.
Improve your driving
Making small tweaks to your driving technique can save on fuel costs. Aim for a smooth driving style, avoiding harsh acceleration and braking. To drive more efficiently, don't rev the engine, and change up into a higher gear as soon as it is possible. Correct use of gears can save you up to 15pc of your fuel bill. Plan ahead, anticipate stop signs and lights. The less you have to stop, the better your fuel economy. Remember, driving just 8kph over the speed limit can affect fuel consumption by 23 per cent. The most fuel-efficient speed is 75-80kph.
You can save hundreds of euro by simply shopping around for the cheapest car insurance, so take the time to do so and don't simply renew your insurance annually. Put a realistic value on your car. Insuring a car at higher than its market value will do nothing but waste money. Also, if you car is worth less than €2,000 then consider third-party insurance rather than comprehensive cover. Always ask your insurance company if you are eligible for a discount and if possible pay your premium up front; paying monthly eases the financial burden but will cost you more in the long run. Also, adding an alarm or immobiliser may incentivise insurers to offer a discount.
Look after your car
No-one enjoys taking the car for routine servicing, especially when often the car comes back feeling and looking the same as before. Even so, cost-cutting on maintenance is a false economy. Taking good care of your car is an easy way to prolong its driving life and cut costs, so do regular checks on the oil, fluid levels and tyres - it will pay huge dividends in the long run.
Share your car
Sharing your car is a great way to save money. Do you have a friend or colleague who drives the same route to work? You could significantly cut your fuel costs and the wear and tear on your car. If you're happy to share with a stranger, check out carsharing.ie. The scheme is open to anyone who owns a car, or anyone looking for a lift.
Find cheaper parking
Often online car park prices can be far cheaper than offline so do some research. Q-Park offer long-term customers a Top-Up card that they can use to receive a reduced maximum daily charge. Parkrite.ie also have a range of Affinity and loyalty parking schemes, so it pays to check out the best deals online for parking to reduce the costs.
Consider other forms of transport
Commuters can make significant savings on Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann, and Irish Rail services by purchasing tickets through the Taxsaver.ie scheme. Alternatively, check out cyclescheme.ie and Cycle to Work. You don't pay income tax, PRSI or USC on the cost of your chosen bike package, so can save up to 52 pc on the retail cost.
Rent a car
For many reasons it may make sense to rent a car - a temporary need for a second vehicle or city dwellers without residential parking spaces, for example. Schemes such as GoCar.ie are ideal. UK research in 'Perspectives on Parking Policy' from the RAC Foundation shows that the average car is used for an hour a day; combined with AA Ireland's Cost of Motoring report showing it costs almost €11,000 a year to run a car, the average driver is paying around €30 per hour for their car. With the average GoCar trip costing less than €10 an hour, hourly car rental could be a cost-effective way to do the school run, the weekly shopping or any short trips. With bases throughout Dublin and Cork, GoCar allows you to hire a car for a few hours at a time and they are currently offering 80pc off their joining fee, which is usually €50, if you use the promocode CARFREE (all one word) until the end of January. Also consider Toyota's hybrid car club 'Yuko'. There is a one-off joining fee of €50 and a monthly fee of €6 and prices start at €2 per 15 minutes. Check out yuko.toyota.ie for more information.
Check your tyres
Over time, tyres will naturally loose air and not only is this dangerous but it will also affect your car's fuel efficiency. Keeping your tyres properly inflated can improve consumption by up to two per cent.
Pass your NCT
Misaligned headlights are a common reason for cars to fail the tests, so have your headlights checked. It is a 10-minute job for someone with the right equipment. Also check the tread depth on your tyres, and don't forget about the spare wheel. Oil, coolant levels and tyre pressure should be looked at.