/ Motoring

How can you cut the cost of motoring?

Model car on coins

Running a car is one of the biggest drains on a household budget, so we’ve been searching for the best cash-conserving ideas. What are your top money-saving tips for drivers?

We had loads of great money-saving suggestions from Which? members – some sensible and some wacky. But here are the top five car-related examples as chosen by us. 

A big thank you to everybody who sent us a tip.

1. Michael encourages careful driving

‘Plan your driving to minimise the use of your brakes. This means anticipation and, among other things, leaving a two-second gap to the vehicle in front on the motorway. It’s a safe way to drive that saves me more than £100 a year in fuel and maintenance costs. And it will probably lengthen your life by reducing driving stress.’

2. Jeff thinks you should take the IAM driving test

‘Take the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) driving test. Not only will you be less likely to have an accident in the first place, but you can also get insurance through IAM Surety, which cost me £100 less than the cheapest quote I could get from price comparison websites. The policy also had a smaller excess.’

3. Emma rents her parking space

‘If you have a spare parking space that you don’t use, you could make money from it – especially if you live near a station in a town centre. A commuter rents my driveway from Monday to Friday for £20 a month. You need to pay a small fee to register on a website such as ParkatmyHouse or ParkonmyDrive. After that, the cost of renting out the space is up to you.’

4. Tom wants you to challenge annual renewals

‘When you get your annual renewal for insurance and breakdown cover, get a quote direct from the company’s website and also run your details through a price comparison site. Then phone and ask why the price is showing as lower on the website for new customers. The AA will normally match without much fuss and you can always cancel and buy as a new customer if they don’t. I have saved £50-£70 on my AA renewal for the past few years.’

5. John shares a tip to cut your car insurance excess

‘When buying car insurance online, the insurer usually includes a voluntary excess. I always change this to zero and invariably find that the premium quoted remains the same or only very slightly more. It will save you money if you do have a prang.’

If you can think of any other money-saving motoring tips to share with other drivers, we’re all ears! Or if you’ve used any of the tips above, how did you get on?


Avoid huge depreciation by keeping your car for several years. My car is now 100 000 miles and 8 years old. Be prepared to spend money on replacement bits, but it’s likely to be significantly cheaper. If you start with a one or two year old car with a reliable history, even better.


Avoid changing cars frequently. Unless major repairs are needed, the cost of depreciation of a new car will be far greater.

Push for goodwill payments or repairs. Car manufacturers are good at producing unreliable vehicles but dealers are at the forefront of providing support for customers who have problems, sometimes well after the warranty has expired.

Do as much of your own maintenance as possible. Some will tell you that it is not possible to do any DIY work on modern cars and that is simply not true.

Shop around for parts. Motor factors are frequently cheaper than motorists’ shops for spares. Avoid panic purchases – for example replace a car battery that is obviously weak before it lets you down and the only convenient option is a very expensive or dubious quality replacement.

Avoid fixed penalty fines. These can put up insurance costs substantially, as I found when I informed my insurance company that a named driver on my insurance had picked up a speeding fine. I don’t know how long insurance companies increase premiums for, but it is not just one year.

Cut down the amount you drive by combining journeys. For example, a day out can be combined with an essential journey.


I must agree with Malcolm and Wavechange. Looking after the car well and keeping it for several years make very good economic sense. Keeping it in a garage helps with this and it might also prompt you to walk for short distances [or postpone the trip] whereas a car ready and waiting invites you to drive somewhere. Route planning and timetabling can also be worthwhile; a slightly longer but uninterrupted journey is better for the car [and the driver] than a route through town with all its hazards and hold-ups.

Malc.Moore says:
6 December 2012

1st cut your speed why accelerate to the Traffic lights when they showing Red and have to Brake hard to stop its very silly&dangerous if you approach the Traffic lights slower you save petrol you might go through them without stopping also you will not wear out Brake linings as quickly.I am in favor of Motorway speed increase to 80 MPH for those who want to go at that speed i personally cruise at around 58/60 MPH so i get reasonable economy.


I find your cruising speed the most uncomfortable of all. You will find you have to overtake the slower commercial traffic quite often. On the other side of the problem you may find you are forcing the faster commercial traffic to overtake you. I think changing lanes on motorways can be a real hazard and much prefer the 80 mph approach and be prepared to move in when the faster boys (or girls ) want to pass.


Totally disagree with John. Always select the highest excess your insurer offers to reduce the cost. If you make a claim on your policy, even with protected no claims discount, the cost of renewal will go up and it will cost you more to insure your car for the next 5 years than if you hadn’t claimed. I’d never make a claim for less than £500 as with two cars in our household the total cost of increased premiums outweighs any advantage in making a claim.

Always protect your NCD. If you have a major prang your insurance premium will rise. Say your insurance is £300 now and you have a 50% NCD so you’re paying £150. If you have a prang your insurance could go up to £500 which means you’d pay an extra £100 a year after NCD. Without protecting your NCD you’ll pay an extra £350 a year!


Protected NCD is a mostly a con. The insurance company may let you keep your NCD at renewal but that doesn’t stop them hiking the basic premium to match your risk. Premiums are based on risk and if you have had an accident, statistics prove that you’re likely to have another – so the premium goes up if the NCD stays the same.

I partially agree about selecting the higher excess. If you are in a high risk group and drive a sports car, you have high premiums, the extra discount for a higher excess is well worth having. If you’re a mature driver with many claim-free years driving a 1.4 diesel Fiesta, then your premium is low, so the saving for choosing a high excess is minimal. So it’s swings and roundabouts and down to each individual to decide.


Terry – you’re missing the point.

The cost of your policy will go up if you have an accident – potentially even if you’re not at fault as I found out after I got smashed into twice in one year!

If you lose your NCD then you’ll pay the full amount of the increased premium without any discount which is a double whammy. Protected NCD is *not* a con but an insurable risk which you can choose not to cover.

The point about the excess is not that you’ll save a tenner from your policy but that you need to work out what it will cost you to claim on your insurance and that includes the increased premium you’ll pay following a claim and choose the excess that’s apppropriate. That’s an insurable risk that you can choose to self insure.


TIP 1 is excellent and really will save money on fuel and servicing whilst reducing stress. Your passengers will love you too.

However, remember that the 2 second rule should be extended to 4 seconds if the weather conditions are bad (longer stopping distance and lower visibility) or if there’s an idiot tail-gating you (you need to leave time for the idiot behind to notice the emergency and respond before flooring the brake pedal).

I know that your 2-second safety gap will frequently be filled by idiots squeezing in front of you, but it is better they die than you.


Loosing your 2 second gap is a constant problem ad I don’t know any answer.

peter roy newbrook says:
7 December 2012

other small tips to help fuel consumption.keep your tire pressures at the correct pressures 24/7 and make sure they are in good condition.check regularly that your brakes are not binding.carry as little weight as possible.use your brakes as little as possible.when accelerating miss out the last but one gear.eg.with a 5speed gearbox change from 3 to 5.this is especially easy with the power of modern engines.keep the car properly serviced.


To check that brakes are not binding, feel the temperatures of the discs/drums after driving without heavy braking. One side will be warm compared with the other side if the brake is binding.

Martin Goffe says:
8 December 2012

When you travel makes a difference. After years of doing uni treks from London to the North and back we have found Saturday evenings a good time to travel. When in towns read the times on bus lanes. Many of them are open to all traffic between 10am and 4pm. . I often go carefully up the inside overtaking lines of traffic. At weekends (less lorries) the slow lanes on motorways are often emptier while the middle and outer lanes are full of people tailgating the cars in front. Lorries overtake each other slowly causing traffic to bunch so look ahead, anticipate and either overtake before it happens or drop back. All these are stress and money savers.