The running costs of a car

A car’s running costs go beyond fuel bills and insurance. You’ve also got to consider tax, repair work and depreciation. So how do you reduce those costs and lower your annual bill?

A car’s running costs go beyond fuel bills and insurance. You’ve also got to consider tax, repair work and depreciation. So how do you reduce those costs and lower your annual bill?

Daniel Hutson
From the Motor team
minute read
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Posted 6 NOVEMBER 2019

What are the costs of running a car?

We all know that running a car can be expensive. But have you ever thought about what the costs can be? You need to consider annual road tax, fuel, the cost of any work that comes from a service or the MOT, and, of course, any other repairs that crop up over the year. 

Here’s a run-down of the costs you need to bear in mind:

  • depreciation – new cars depreciate more than used ones, but whatever you buy, you can help keep its value by
    • looking after your car
    • repairing any scratches or dings
    • not racking up too many miles on the clock
    • keeping your service record
  • tax – how much you pay for your car tax will depend on a few things, including your car’s engine and fuel type, as well as the amount of CO2 it emits
  • fuel economy – as with your tax, your car’s fuel economy will depend on its make, model and age. It will also depend on what type of fuel it uses. Diesel cars are more efficient over long distances, but you’ll pay more in tax as they’re very polluting. Some boroughs, such as Islington in London, also charge you more for parking a diesel car
  • insurance – it’s illegal to drive without insurance, but how much you buy is up to you. Compare all three levels of car insurance – third party, third party fire and theft, and comprehensive, to see which works out cheapest for you  
  • MOT – if your car is over three years old, it will need to have a new MOT certificate every year. This is an annual safety check to make sure it meets all the legal requirements
  • repairs – obviously, it’s impossible to predict how much your car will cost you in repairs. For that reason, buying a used car is a gamble, but some dealerships offer warranties that cover repairs, meaning you could get them for a fixed cost. If you choose to buy a warranty, the price will depend on the car’s make, model and age

How can I reduce my car’s running costs? 

Here are some steps you can take to improve your car’s fuel efficiency: 

  • use apps such as PetrolPrices, which show you the cheapest places to fill up in your area
  • save up to 3% on your fuel bill by ensuring your tyres are inflated to the right level
  • save another 2% by cleaning out your car – all that clutter adds weight
  • take off roof racks or bike holders when you’re not using them – again the weight will affect your fuel efficiency
  • avoid rush hour and heavy-traffic roads and use your sat nav so you don’t get lost or miss turnings
  • turn off the air con, as using it can mean you end up using more fuel
  • keep to the speed limit! Research from What Car? found that going at 80mph uses 25% more fuel than sticking at 70mph
  • don’t drive with a full tank. Keeping your tank half-full will again mean you’re carrying less weight

Compare now

And remember, another way to save on your car’s running costs is to compare and switch insurance providers. You can compare car insurance quotes now and find the right deal for you.

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