Salford Citizens Advice

Saving money on your driving:

With the costs of petrol and diesel rising again over the last weeks many people are struggling with the costs of keeping a car on the road, as well as with the costs of everything else still rising so quickly. There are things you can do to help keep the costs down.

Buying fuel as cheaply as you can – Like many people I should shop around more when it comes to filling up. Be sure to keep an eye on changes to the costs of a number of different petrol stations on a regular basis. Supermarkets do seem to be cheaper – and they often give fuel discount vouchers when you spend money buying your weekly shop. Check whether a loyalty scheme is available, or if you buy a lot of fuel you might want to change your bank account to one which offers a ‘cash back’ offer on your spending. As always, if you use a credit card make sure you do you best to pay off the balance before any interest is charged. There is a useful phone app available which gives local best petrol prices PetrolPrices.com which is updated daily.

Driving more efficiently – If you’ve been driving for a number of years, you might not think as much about efficient driving as you could. For example: making sure you’re not carrying around any extra weight in your boot; don’t keep a roof rack on when it’s not needed; don’t keep your engine running unnecessarily; plan any unfamiliar journeys before you set off; avoid short trips by combining them; and is there an alternative to using your car?

When driving to your best to drive smoothly, accelerating, and braking gently – try to keep the car moving rather than stopping and starting. Remember what your driving instructor used to say about reading the road ahead of you!

It saves fuel if you don’t labour the engine – instead, try changing up at an engine speeds of around 2,000 rpm for a diesel car and around 2,500 rpm for a petrol car.

Keeping an eye on your speed saves significant amounts of fuel. For example, by cutting an average speed of 60 to 50 mph will save about 15% in fuel used.

Turn off unnecessary things such as air conditioning, screen heating, lights when there not needed, these all add to the amount of fuel used.

Reducing the costs of insurance – One of the most expensive costs of driving is your insurance, and one of the best ways to save money on your driving is to move to a different insurer. Lots of us don’t check out for better deals when it comes to renewing, leaving it to the last minute means you’re much more likely to just stay with who you’ve been with for years.

Lots of insurers offer cost saving options – for example low or limited mileage deals, or if you are a young or new driver it might be worth thinking about taking up a ‘black box’ deal – where the times and speeds you can drive at are limited –but the cost of your insurance is much reduced.

You probably don’t think about how you pay for your insurance. If it’s just by instalments to your insurer you might be paying a higher rate of interest than you need to. It might be cheaper to buy the cover out right using cheaper credit.

If there is anything in your driving history that means it’s harder to get insurance, or that you need to pay more for insurance then you might be better off if you get more detailed advice about your insurance by using an old-fashioned insurance broker.

Parking fines and driving penalties – Never ignore them, it won’t go away and if you pay them quickly, you’ll get a reduction. If you ignore them the recovery and legal fees will add up quickly and you will end up paying much more than the original fine. Don’t forget that you can always appeal if you think a parking fine is unfair. The most common successful reason to win an appeal is where signs or lines are not clear enough. If you receive a ‘Fixed Penalty Notice’ and you want to challenge it, then you always have the option to go to court rather than just accept points and a fine. You should be aware that if you lose then you are likely to be fined more than the original fixed penalty.

Private parking fines – The use of wheel clamping and vehicle removal on private land has been made illegal, instead a parking charge notice should be put on the car or sent to the keeper by post. Only those companies that are members of the regulated scheme have access to the information about a car’s registered keeper from the DVLA, so these are the only companies that ought to be sending fines through the post. If they are a member of the regulated scheme, then they cannot charge more than £100 and this must be reduced by at least 40% if paid early. There is also an independent appeal scheme.

Beware rogue ticketers who will not be members the regulated scheme and don’t have access to the DVLA information, so will not be able to trace the car’s keeper or owner. In both these cases the fine is enforced through the civil courts – so it’s not always economic to pursue.

You can always ask us if you need any advice about fines and penalties. Contact us on 0808 27 87 802 or find the details of your nearest Citizens Advice by checking www.salfordcab.org.uk.

Salford’s Car Hire Scheme -The council has set up a car hire scheme for residents, to find out more go to: https://www.salford.gov.uk/parking-roads-and-travel/salford-car-club/

Tom Togher

October 2023.