Motoring Costs And Maintenance 101

Running a car isn’t cheap. Even if your car is an affordable runaround and not a whizz-bang BMW, when you add up all the costs – MOTs, insurance, fuel, parking to name a few – it soon burns a hole in your pocket. Being prepared with emergency savings for breakdowns or repairs that are inevitable when it comes to owning a car, but if you do not have any savings then a same day loan can help. 

This guide looks at how much we spend on our cars each year, top tips for how you can save money on your motor, plus some handy motoring maintenance tips – to save you a few bob on your repair bill.

How much does it cost to run a car?

Quite a lot, as it turns out. The purchase price of a car is one thing. Keeping it running is a whole other. The following table, using car costs from Auto Express, outlines the annual running costs facing motorists.

Annual car costs



Road tax £180
Insurance £374
Breakdown cover £50
Fuel costs per 10,000 miles £1,126
Tyre costs per 10,000 miles £194
Servicing and repairs per 10,000 miles £435
Parking and tolls per 10,000 miles £200


So, if you drive on or around 10,000 miles a year, your average car running costs will be a significant £2,559.

How can you bring that figure down?

Saving money on your car

20 quick tips to help you cut your driving costs.


  1. Drive a bit slower

Yes. Driving fast burns more fuel and causes more pollution. Slowing down is much more economical and better for the planet.

  1. Shop around for cheaper car insurance

Sounds obvious, but lots of drivers don’t change their car insurance provider. Use comparison sites to find good deals.

  1. Shop around for petrol

You shop around for car insurance and breakdown cover – why not fuel? If you tend to always stop by the same place to fill up your vehicle, see if there’s a cheaper garage in your area. Petrol Prices is a really good tool – pop in your postcode and find the cheapest places to get petrol in your area.


  1. Don’t buy petrol on the motorway

Unless it’s an emergency. Fuel prices at motorway garages and service stations tend to be higher than elsewhere.

  1. Keep an eye on your tyre pressure

It won’t save you much, but keeping your tyres properly inflated improves fuel consumption, so it’s worth keeping an eye on.

  1. Consider car sharing

Car sharing – offering a lift to other commuters, festival-goers or daytrippers – is becoming more and more popular. Car sharing sees travel costs shared by all occupants, so it could save you hundreds of pounds. It cuts congestion and means less pollution, too. Use a site like Liftshare.

  1. Bike to work

If your daily drive to work is getting you down, takes too long or is mega stressful, consider leaving the car in the garage and cycling to work. It’ll save you money and help you keep fit.


  1. Change the way you drive

Driving in a different way can cut down on fuel consumption, saving you money in the process. Habits to get into to save fuel include:


  • Don’t over-rev the engine.
  • Always drive in the correct gear.
  • Drive with an empty boot.
  • Don’t use air-con.
  • Don’t drive too fast.


  1. Pay for your car tax annually

As is widely known, paper tax discs no longer exist. You still, of course, have to pay tax on your car, it’s just all the records are now stored online. Paying for your car tax annually is the cheapest option – if you choose to pay monthly, it’ll cost you more.

  1. Use council-run MoT centres

Taking your car in for its MoT is essential. While the maximum cost for the MoT is capped at a relatively modest £54.85, if you need any repair work done it could hit your pocket pretty hard. And while most dealerships are honest, reliable and professional, there’s no doubt there’s the odd cowboy out there who might find a reason for your car to fail, thus earning him or her a few extra bob.

Take your car to a council-run MoT centre – it will have no incentive to fail your vehicle. Here’s a list of council-run centres.

And remember, you can be fined up to £1,000 for driving a vehicle without a valid MoT.

  1. Avoid ‘high performance’ fuel

You’ve probably seen so-called high performance fuel on sale at your local petrol station. However, these are typically designed for use in proper sports cars, where such premium fuel actually does its job. High performance fuel is more expensive than the regular stuff, so if you don’t need it, don’t buy it.

  1. Try a car club

If you don’t drive all that often, consider selling your motor and using car clubs. These clubs allow you to book a car locally for an hour, weekend or longer. There are no insurance, breakdown or maintenance costs, although some car clubs have joining and rental fees. Here’s a list of car clubs in the UK.

  1. Prepare your car for winter

Given adverse weather, strong winds, snow and ice, there are always more car breakdowns in winter than any other time of the year. When winter starts to approach, make some changes to your vehicle to reduce the risk of something going wrong:

  • Stock up on anti-freeze – this ensures your car’s coolant doesn’t freeze.
  • Check your lights – you don’t want them going on the blink in bad weather.
  • Pack your car with essentials – water, something to eat, mobile phone, map hazard lights, shovel – in case you get stuck.


  1. See if your supermarket is running any petrol deals

Shops often run promotions for petrol, such as getting a few quid off your fuel if you spend over £30 in store. Keep an eye out for these types of offers – they could really bring your fuel costs down.

  1. Ride over speed bumps efficiently

If your usual speed bump approach is to brake hard, accelerate then brake hard again, stop. This is an efficient way to ride over them. Instead, drive smoothly and at a steady speed, say 15-20 miles per hour.

  1. Can you rent your driveway?

If you live somewhere where finding a parking spot is like gold dust, such as a major city or near a transport hub, you could rent out your driveway or other parking space. You can rent out a space on a site like JustPark and earn yourself some extra dollar.

  1. Drive your car for longer

If you normally change your car once every couple of years, why not change that and drive it for longer? It’s a very obvious way of saving money on your vehicle. Don’t forget, modern cars are built to last and often come with decent warranties, and, if you keep on top of the maintenance, you might not need to replace yours for several years.

  1. Avoid car gadgets

The number of fancy car gadgets on the market is legion. While in-car iPhone chargers, snazzy dash cams and robotic furry dice are all tempting, if you’re trying to cut costs, just focus on the essentials.

  1. Bring down your credit score

If you have a bad credit score, this could be costing you more money because insurance providers could put up insurance rates for people with a poor credit history. Read our guide on boosting your credit score.

  1. Do you brake hard? Stop

Avoid hard braking wherever possible. Stopping slowly rather than quickly is easier on your brakes and will extend their life, meaning you won’t have to fork out for new brake pads quite so often.

Car maintenance checklist

Skilling yourself with a few basic car maintenance checks and tips and tricks is a great idea. Granted, you probably won’t be able to reconstruct an engine but it really isn’t too difficult to perform some basic checks.


Doing simple maintenance on your car raises your chances of fixing the vehicle should something go wrong. And of course, it could well cut down on your maintenance expenses. Why take your car to a garage for an oil check when you can do it yourself?


Check your car’s oil level by pulling out the dipstick and giving it a wipe with a clean rag. Put the dipstick back into the pipe, pull it out again and take a look at how high the oil reaches on the dipstick. If you need to add more oil in, open the oil cap (a screw-off cap) and top up with oil. It’s recommended to check oil levels every few weeks.


Check your car’s lights – indicators, reversing lights, brake lights and fog lights – every week. They’re pretty easy to replace. Usually you just screw off the cover and pop the new one in.


Tyre pressure is easy to check. Buy a pressure gauge or pop to your local petrol station – there should be one there too. Find out the correct tyre pressure for your vehicle (it’ll be in the manual) and inflate it if necessary. It’s also a good idea to check your tyres for signs of wear and tear.


Generic advice is not a service regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.