Ten ways to stay on the road – and save money

RISING petrol prices and insurance costs are making it more and more of a challenge to keep your car on the road.

A lot of people are cutting down on non-essential trips, but for many people, especially in rural areas of Scotland, a car is not a luxury but a necessity.

However, there are ways you can cut down on the cost of running a car as well as some interesting new ways to make being a car owner work for you.

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Stephen Ebbet, director of insurers Protect Your Bubble, said: ”Keeping a car on the road is getting more and more expensive as prices at the pumps rise, but there are things you can do to cut costs, and you can even cover fuel bills by using your car to boost your income.”

1. Shop around for petrol

Be choosy about where to fill up on fuel, which takes some planning ahead. Petrolprices.com will show you the lowest and highest priced forecourts in your local area, so you can pick and choose the cheapest diesel and petrol. Try not to get caught short on fuel while on the motorway, where prices to fill up are typically much higher.

2. Improve your driving techniques

Making small tweaks to your driving technique can save on fuel costs. To drive more efficiently don’t let the rev count get too high before changing gear. Drive smoothly – don’t ram the brakes or be heavy-footed with the accelerator. And, when motorway driving, keep your cruising speed as consistent as possible.

3. Travel light

Don’t drive around with unnecessary baggage in your boot like golf clubs. Keep your load as light as possible and you’ll use less fuel. And, if you’re not using them, remove roof racks, as these increase fuel consumption too.

4. Share the load and cut the expense

Set up a car share with other school run parents or start a car share pool with your colleagues at work. Not only is it much cheaper, it’s greener and more sociable too.

5. Rent out your motor

If you don’t use your car every day, make money from it by renting it out by the hour or by the day on a site like WhipCar.com. Each person using your car has fully comprehensive insurance and if they have an accident, it will not affect your no-claims bonus.

6. Keep your car looking pretty

New research carried out by Protect Your Bubble revealed that 77 per cent of motorists in minor collisions do not claim on their car insurance for fear of losing no-claims bonuses, seeing premiums rise, or because the repairs cost less than their excesses. Cosmetic damage cover could help. It costs £149.99 per year, which covers up to three repairs for cosmetic damage, with the work carried out by an industry-leading technician. And it won’t affect your no-claims bonuses or premiums.

7. Pimp out your driveway

If you do use your car every day, you can still make money from your parking space by renting out empty driveways to motorists. This can be particularly lucrative if you live near a train station, shopping area, airport or hospital. You can do this on sites like YourParkingSpace.co.uk and ParkatmyHouse.com.

8. Find a friend with a clean licence

Sometimes, adding an experienced driver with a clean licence on your car insurance can sometimes reduce the premium. Reducing your mileage can also cut costs, as can keeping it in a garage or on a driveway, rather than parking on the road.

9. Take advantage of supermarket deals

Some supermarket credit cards earn you points if you fill up in their forecourts, which can be redeemed against the weekly grocery shop – a clever way to offset the cost of fuel. And look out for money-off fuel vouchers at the checkouts next time you shop. Occasionally, supermarkets offer deals like 5p off per litre when you spend over a certain amount in store.

10. Keep hold of those loyalty cards

Sign up to petrol retailers’ loyalty schemes and start accruing points to earn gift vouchers or money off fuel.