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50 ways to save money on motoring - part 2 

Our second 25 tips on how to save you money, and miles
 
25 tips on how to save you money and miles
The old saying 'Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves' is all too true when it comes to car ownership - especially at the moment.

That's why we've put together 50 tips on how you can save money on your Swindon motoring.

Some might not be relevant to you but you might find the odd piece of advice that's worth trying - happy motoring!
 
26. CAREFUL WITH THAT CRUISE CONTROL
If you have cruise control on your car, use it Ė but use it sparingly.
 
Itís designed to be used on long journeys and on mostly flat roads, and will, indeed, save you money under these circumstances. But constantly engaging and disengaging it wastes fuel, rather than saving it.
 
27. TAKE YOUR FOOT OFF THE GAS
Everybody knows that speed is the biggest single factor of fuel economy, but most people disregard the fact that this applies to all circumstances.
 
By driving slower in all situations - around town, on the open road, on motorways - you will be able to save money straightaway. Some claim you can achieve a 33 per cent saving in fuel usage by slowing down on motorways and other fast roads, so we could be talking savings of hundreds of pounds a year for some drivers. Even if you only slow down a little, itís worth it.
 
Some people mistakenly believe that cruising at 70mph or more is some kind of optimum state in which the car reaches maximum efficiency. But the faster you go, the more fuel you use - simply because extra energy is required to overcome air resistance. So slow down.
 
Besides, when youíre trying to save money, the last thing you want is a speeding ticket. Thatís a double whammy: you not only have to pay the fine, but it will cost you an average of 13 per cent on your next insurance premium.
 
28. BE A SMOOTHIE
Almost as good as driving slowly to save fuel is to rethink your driving style. Some drivers can easily obtain a 20 per cent improvement in fuel economy through better driving. Thatís an average of a tenner per tankful!
 
You should try to accelerate more smoothly, drive more carefully and brake more gradually. Jerky acceleration, bad cornering and excessive braking burns more fuel, so the smoother the ride, the more you save.
 
Short bursts of acceleration and hard braking are reckoned cost you around 3mpg, and youíll also extend the life of the car and its engine by being a smoothie.
 
29. AVOID SPEED BUMPS
If you have two alternative routes and one includes lots of speed bumps, choose the other.
 
Youíve already pledged to be a slower driver anyway (see above) and speed bumps waste fuel because braking and accelerating are unavoidable, thus wasting fuel. Remember, the smoother your driving, the less fuel youíll use.
 
30. REVVING IS FOR DUMMIES
Donít rev the engine when youíre driving. It serves no purpose. Some people even rev their engines habitually, before switching off the engine. All revving wastes fuel.
 
31. STOP IDLING
If you expect to be stationary for more than 30 seconds, turn off your engine. After half a minute of going nowhere, you are only wasting fuel.
 
Worst of all is the myth that idling at the start of the journey warms the engine nicely. It doesnít. Itís more economical to drive with a cold engine than to idle. Think of it this way: while your car isnít moving, youíre getting 0mpg!
 
32. SHED THOSE EXTRA POUNDS!
Most people need to lose some weight Ė but weíre talking cargo, not waistlines.
 
Car manufactures such as Jaguar are now spending millions researching ways of making their cars lighter, thus making them more efficient. But along come many drivers who load unnecessary weight in the car.
 
You should have a spare tyre, a jack, basic tools and safety equipment (these are not legal requirements, but not having them would probably be a false economy). Consider everything else to be excess baggage that is costing you money, exactly the same as it does at the airport.
 
So declutter the boot and leave those golf clubs at home!
 
33. DONíT FILL HER UP
If more weight means more fuel (see above) then it also follows that more fuel means more weight.
 
Having all that liquid on board means poor fuel economy. When you refuel, only fill up to about half the tank capacity. In fact, get our of the habit of calling it Ďfilling upí and start calling it Ďrefuellingí instead.
 
34. DONíT BE A DRAG
Modern car manufacturers spend millions making their cars more aerodynamic, and then drivers spoil all their hard work by adding things such as roof racks and boxes to their cars. Thereís nothing wrong with that if youíre going on holiday, but leaving it there for the other 50 weeks of the year is costing you hard cash in unnecessary fuel.
 
Even driving with an empty roof rack creates significant drag and is wasting fuel. Driving with windows up and sunroofs closed saves fuel because the aerodynamics of the car Ė now a major consideration in the design process for most manufacturers - are not comprised.
 
35. CHECK IF YOUR JOURNEY IS REALLY NECESSARY
One longer trip in which you carry out several chores or encompass several journeys is better than several short ones.
 
This is because you can reduce fuel economy by 4-5mpg by running a warm engine instead of a cold one. Over a short distance, cold engines use twice as much fuel as hot ones. So if you have several trips to make during a day or during a week, try to combine them into one.
 
36. CHECK OUT IMMOBILISERS
Some insurance companies offer significant discounts for cars that have approved immobilisers. Ask your insurer for details and compare prices against the cost of the immobiliser and fitting.
 
37. TURN OFF THE AIR CON
The temptation to use the air conditioner is often too great for some motorists, even when itís not particularly hot. But this costs fuel - perhaps 1mpg, according to some claims. So save it for the heatwave.
 
However, if you have air conditioning, itís a good idea to turn it on occasionally at other times, just to reduce the possibility of it seizing up when you need it. They can be devilishly expensive to fix.
 
38. SUPER UNLEADEDíS NOT SO SUPER
The jury is still out on this one, but most industry experts agree you should never buy Super Unleaded or any other high performance fuel unless you have a high performance car.
 
Some drivers think that they get better performance from putting it in their old bangers, as well as a cleaner engine and even better fuel economy. But most motoring commentators say there is no discernible benefit from choosing fancy fuel for cars that are not specifically designed to run on it exclusively.
 
39. TAKE THE BUS INTO TOWN
We all know that public transport makes sense, and in Swindon, public transport obviously means buses. Theyíre cheaper and more environmentally acceptable, and riding them means you get to see more of life. And when you get tired of people- watching, youíll have extra time to read the paper or a book.
 
Even better news: public transport is easier than ever, thanks to the internet - whether you are travelling locally or on a longer journey. In Swindon, buses are run on a commercial basis by Thamesdown Transport Ltd and Stagecoach plc, which receive certain subsidies from Swindon Borough Council, thus helping to keep prices down.
 
It also means that much of the information you need is provided through the SBCís bus information website which you can visit by clicking here. This includes a real time service called nextbus Swindon, all of which makes planning your specific journey much easier than in the old days when you had to wrestle with large folding maps.
 
40. GO PUBLIC ON YOUR TRAVELS
Planning journeys by public transport outside Swindon has never been easier, especially on the buses. Whatever means of public transport you are intending to use Ė trains, buses, ferriesÖ - an excellent and impartial resource is the Traveline South West website. It shows all relevant journey information except, sadly, fares.
 
41. SHOP AROUND FOR PETROL AROUND TOWN
Petrol prices vary so little from filing station to filling station that itís not worth finding the cheapest - right? Wrong!
 
The thing that you must always remember when buying petrol is that this is a major part of your annual expenditure. Apart from the weekly shop, itís likely that no other regular expenditure will come close to what you spend at the pumps. And because you go there often, any small savings from individual visits multiply into significant annual savings.
 
If you compare the highest and lowest prices of stations within a 10-mile radius of Swindon, you will usually find the difference is at least 4p per litre Ė about five per cent. If it costs you £50 to fill your tank, thatís a potential £2.50 saving. And multiply that by the number of times you fill up in a year and you are looking at a significant annual saving just by shopping around.
 
PetrolPrices.com is excellent for comparing prices, and can be set up so that you automatically receive updates by email about latest prices. By the way, donít be tempted to fill up when itís dark or cold, just because youíve heard about it being more cost-effective. It isnít Ė well, not enough to matter. It is true that you get more out of the pump because the fuel is denser, but the reality is the temperature varies very little and the extra petrol is probably no more than a drop, quite literally.
 
42. WAIT FOR IT, WAIT FOR ITÖ
You can save precious fuel by ensuring that the last thing you do before driving away is switching on the engine.
 
Remember idling is a cardinal sin (see above), so no adjusting the mirrors, looking for the mints, blowing your nose, doing up your seatbelt or anything else after youíve turned the key.
 
43. SHOP AROUND FOR PETROL ON A JOURNEY
If you are planning a trip, http://www.keepmoving.co.uk will help you find the best petrol prices along your route Ė and help you find your way. Use this information when programming your satnav.
 
44. GO SHOPPING FOR BARGAINS
Check supermarkets that have adjoining petrol stations, to see if they have any promotions offering discount on petrol for spending money at the checkout. These can typically offer 5p (therefore more than five per cent) off each litre, in return for spending a certain amount in the shop. Many petrol stations also run loyalty schemes, so ask about them.
 
45. COUNT THE CASHBACK
Purchasing fuel is expensive (we all know that). But the good news is that itís also highly predictable because most of us do it as regular as clockwork.
 
You should turn this to your advantage. The way you pay for fuel can have a major bearing on cost. Consider applying for a cashback card - a credit card that pays you money every time you use the card. This can amount to a saving of five per cent, although it is absolutely crucial that you pay off whatís due in full, every month (and itís best to set up a direct debit to make sure).
 
Repeat: make sure you settle your debt with the card company in full, every month.
 
46. CHECK OUT WHATíS IN A NAME
Having young, inexperienced drivers or those with a history of motoring offences named on your car insurance obviously bumps up the price, but it can work for you, the other way around: you may be able to save money by naming somebody who is a proven safe driver. Ask your insurance company about how named drivers affect premiums.
 
47. DONíT PANIC AT THE PUMPS!
Donít leave it until the last minute before refuelling. Weíve already heard that filling your tank wastes money (above), but you should still carry plenty, so you arenít forced to stray from your route or buy from an expensive source when you start to run dry.
 
48. SHARE A CAR AND JOIN THE CLUB
Sharing a car is not the same as sharing a journey (see below).
 
By sharing a journey you can save money on running costs, especially fuel, but as most of the cost of motoring is in owning a car, not running it, there is even more to be saved by being a part-owner of a car and sharing all the costs.
 
You could set up an informal arrangement to share a car with a friend or relative, or you could join an organisation that specialises in setting up arrangements between people who are otherwise unknown to each other Ė a car club.
 
Typically, each car in a car club does the job of 10 privately owned cars. See www.carclubs.org.uk to find out more or visit www.carplus.org.uk - the official site of a charity that promotes car clubs (their motto is ĎRethinking car useí). Sadly, there are no independently managed car clubs in Swindon at present, so you may have to go it alone.
 
Carplus advise us that negotiations with local authorities in our area havenít made much progress, so it wouldnít hurt to lobby your local councillor/MPs if you want to support the car club revolution.
 
49. SHARE A JOURNEY
Many people think that carsharing, carpooling, liftsharing or ridesharing (all words for sharing a journey) - is only for getting to work. Itís true that itís a sensible approach to commuting, but thatís not even half the story.
 
Itís also a good idea for the school run, going to the match, attending festivals and other events, getting to and from university, visiting friends or getting to the airport and back. And itís probably much more flexible than you think.
 
Many journey-sharing arrangements are made on an informal basis, between friends, colleagues or neighbours, but they can be organised and managed more formally, including online.
 
Swindon Borough Council endorses www.carshareswindon.com, which is part of a national movement that has now organised more than 300,000 schemes, including more than 1,400 journeys from Swindon.
 
The website (carshareswindon.com) matches journeys to anywhere, not just in and around Swindon, and itís free (our favourite kind of scheme). In fact, if you are among the first 1,000 to register, you get a free Ďgreení shopping bag so you can ďstart spending that spare cashĒ.
 
But remember that sharing a journey is not just about money. There are various other considerations, including the social benefits of sharing, the security of two lone lady drivers sharing and the effect that journeys have on the environment.
 
50. TRY THIS FOR A PASSING SHOT
If youíve recently passed your test and are horrified by the cost of insurance, find out more about Pass Plus. This is a training course that is designed by the Driving Standards Agency and is aimed at new drivers, although anybody with a full licence is eligible.
 
Thereís no test at the end, but there is continual assessment. Apart from the obvious benefits of becoming a better driver from tuition from experts, you may be eligible for a discount on your insurance premium.
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