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Car running costs: how to save on insurance, fuel and servicing

Owning a car can be an expensive business, and it's not getting any cheaper. As well as the initial purchase cost, there are all the associated outgoings that need to be considered. The obvious one is fuel, but you'll also need to pay for insurance and road tax to meet legal requirements for being on the road. And then there are costs such as servicing, MoTs and any extras such as breakdown or extended warranty cover – it can all tot up. But there are ways to save money, and Auto Express has the lowdown on how you can save cash when it comes to insurance, fuel and servicing.

With petrol pump prices rising gradually over recent months, it's easy for them to go unnoticed. But when the average cost breaks a barrier such as 120 pence per litre, as it did recently, it can set of an alarm about how much you're shelling out for fuel and other costs associated with running a car.

First cars: top tips for young drivers

If you've bought a car from new, then the price you pay will be the headline grabber. However, there's also the cost of insurance to bear in mind. After 12 months, there will be a first service to factor in (if you didn't buy a service plan when you bought the car), road tax (the first year will have been covered in the car's on-the-road cost), as well as an insurance renewal.

It's the same for the car's second birthday, while after three years, you're going to have to factor in an MoT, and possibly consider either extending the car's warranty and breakdown cover (if they both last for that long), or possibly take out an aftermarket warranty. And because all these costs are tied in with the anniversary of the car first being registered and sold, it's likely you'll see a spike in motoring costs every 12 months.

But there's plenty that you can do to help keep these costs as low as possible. With so many online tools available to help you cut the cost of motoring, there really is no excuse for you to simply grin and bear excessive motoring costs. Figures from 2016 put the annual cost of running a new £18,000 car at a whopping £2,600 per year – based on a petrol model driving 10,000 miles at 45mpg – but with recent rises in fuel costs, as well as the highest average car insurance costs seen in the UK for many years, this estimate will be a conservative one.

Here we have gathered together a bunch of useful tips and advice to help you to reduce your motoring bills. Click the links below or on the top left of this page for our specialist advice in each of the key areas, then see how much we managed to save below…

How much can you save?

We've estimated these running costs based on a new car worth £18,000 and with a driver covering 10,000 miles a year. While the costs are based on those that drivers were paying in 2016, out tips should still help to cut around £500 off the average motoring bill; if you’re a younger driver eligible for ‘black box’ insurance that adds a telematics box that monitors your driving, you could save even more. The great thing about our tips is that you don’t have to put in much effort to reduce your motoring outgoings; all it takes is a bit of preparation.

Annual car costs:

Average cost Auto Express savings
Road tax £180
Insurance £374 £144
Breakdown cover £50 £30

Car costs per 10,000 miles:

Average cost Auto Express savings
Fuel £1,126 £180
Tyres £194
Servicing and repairs £435 £127
Parking and tolls £200

Total average car costs: £2,559Total Auto Express costs: £2,078

How much we saved: £481

*Costs based on average prices from 2016.

What are your top tips for cutting your car costs? Let us know in the comments section below…

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