Used Car Money-Saving Secrets

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Nobody ever said car ownership was cheap, but there are some simple ways to save money. Follow the tips below and you’ll cut your motoring costs in no time at all.

Feel the Pressure

If you ride a bicycle with too little air in its tyres, you’ll need to put extra effort into accelerating and maintaining a desired speed. It all comes down to surface area: soft tyres make more contact with the ground, and thus create more friction and drag that you have to work to overcome. The same principle applies to your car – under-inflated tyres cause the engine to work harder, which in turn burns more fuel.

As such, checking and potentially adjusting tyre pressures at least once a fortnight is not only important for safety reasons, but can also improve fuel consumption by as much as 3%. Adjust your tyre pressure with either your own digital gauge and a foot pump, or visit a petrol-station forecourt, most of which have a tyre-inflation machine on site.

The recommended tyre pressures for your car will be listed both in the instruction manual and on a sticker on the inside edge of the driver’s door or doorframe.

Empty the Boot

Imagine you’re back on that bicycle with its under-inflated tyres, pedalling harder than necessary just to maintain a half-decent speed. Only this time you’re also carrying a baby buggy, a large road atlas, and a few pairs of wellies, even though you don’t need them for this particular trip.

Now think about what you regularly carry in the boot of your car that you don’t necessarily need, and how much harder your engine must work to move that extra weight. Put simply, less weight equals more miles per gallon.

Lose the Roof Rack

Roof racks and roof boxes can be incredibly useful when it comes to the annual family holiday, but leaving them attached to your car when not required will have a less impressive impact on your bank balance. In fact, the huge reduction in aerodynamic efficiency caused by these accessories will reduce fuel economy by approximately 10%.

Lift the Bonnet

The much-improved reliability of modern cars has led to fewer of us ever feeling the need to look under the bonnet. However, making sure the engine’s oil and coolant levels are correct is not only a simple job, but one that could also prevent expensive repair bills further down the line.

Clean It!

Regularly cleaning your car will not only keep its paintwork in good condition for the longer term, but will also give you the chance to notice any wear and tear, whether it be emerging rust spots, scratches or kerb damage to the wheels, or tyres that are low on grip.

Identifying problems early almost always means they will be cheaper to rectify, and the mere act of polishing your car every now and then will also demonstrate to future potential buyers that its owner took care of it.

Behind the Wheel

With your car in tip-top shape, it’s time to consider how altering your driving style might also reduce your motoring costs. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean accelerating at a snail’s pace and travelling everywhere 10 mph below the speed limit, but rather anticipating what’s going on around you in order to minimise the time spent coming to a stop and then restarting.

If the traffic light ahead is red, for example, try easing off the accelerator and coasting up to it, only gently braking when needed. Similarly, leaving a sensible gap between yourself and the car in front will give you time to better anticipate what its driver might do, again minimising the amount of braking and acceleration required.

Planning your route to avoid heavily congested areas where there is a lot of stop-and-start traffic can also help improve efficiency, as can travelling at times of the day when traffic is lighter.

Finally, if you want to see what type of car will be best for your bank balance, consider which fuel type will fit your driving habits best, whether that be petrol, diesel, hybrid or perhaps even electricity.

Having previously written for The Daily Telegraph, What Car?, Auto Express and others, Chris Knapman now oversees the editorial content at CarGurus in the UK, covering buying guides and advice, car reviews, motoring news and more.

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