Shop around for fuel, or better yet, consider joining the EV club

We can, with grim justification, complain about the rising cost of car ownership. But we forget that a little effort can also help save money.

With the world at our laptop’s fingertips, we can find ways to save money by doing some research. At the very least, it will help establish that we are not paying too much. You’d be surprised at the yield you’ll get for relatively little effort.

Don’t forget that even €3 reduction per week on running costs amounts to €156 per year. Do that with three or four items I’ve identified here and you’re in for $500 or $600 a year. That’s €1,200 you need to earn before tax. Every euro saved represents a bonus.

So here are the main cost and activity areas that can be reduced if you are willing to shop around. That’s what it’s all about: choosing what’s best for you and being willing to change your perception of how and how much you need to use your car.

1. Fuel

It is essential to reduce costs by exploiting the differences in exit prices.

Don’t just check who charges what in your area; broaden your horizons a bit and see what is being charged in high density shopping districts.

It can pay to travel a little – not too far – to refuel. Sometimes, too, a small catch can undermine the whole thing. Aim to save between €1.50 and €3 for a filling; it is up to 156 € over one year.

Are you throwing money away by filling up on super expensive gas when the basic stuff will suffice? Check and see if you are. There are big savings to be made. I count eight cents a liter of those I sampled. It’s €3.20 on 40 litres.

2. Driving style

The way you drive plays an important role in your car’s fuel consumption. Save big by driving smoothly, avoiding hard braking, anticipating slowdowns and driving in as high a gear as safely possible.

Staying 10pc to 15pc below the current limit can save liters on a long motorway journey. So reassess your driving style. This way you can save 3 € per tank. It may not seem like much, but it’s a great saving over the year.

3. Maintenance

Keeping your car in good condition reduces fuel consumption and can pay for itself in no time by also avoiding larger and more expensive repairs. Not to mention your safety and that of your passengers.

Shop around: there are always deals. Use a reputable outlet. Don’t be afraid to negotiate to keep the cost of repairs, restocks and checks as low as possible. Aim to save at least $50 per year.

Pay attention to your tires. Under-inflated tires can absorb gallons of gasoline or diesel. Check them weekly. You will save money, guaranteed.

4. Electric

Ask yourself if an electric vehicle (EV) could meet your needs. If you’ve been thinking about it for a while, now is a good time to really consider buying because you’re going to end up doing it over the next few years anyway.

Electric vehicles are 70% cheaper to run than diesel or petrol cars. As an example, the Volkswagen ID.4 EV costs around €310 in energy/fuel costs per year. You won’t get much gas or diesel for this over 52 weeks.

Maintenance is also less because electric vehicles have fewer moving parts. The downside is that you have a higher first-time purchase price, despite the tax incentives. Work the numbers as they apply to you; in the longer term, electric vehicles make sense, especially if your current car is getting old.

5. A car is enough

Do you really need that second car now that you’re working from home? More and more individuals and families are renting cars like GoCar for those odd (or regular) occasions when they need a car. It can still cost a lot less when factoring in insurance, taxes, and running costs.

Traditional car rentals also offer good deals. You could save hundreds of dollars without having to maintain a second car. And used car prices are high right now, so you would benefit from a lump sum on the sale of your vehicle.

6. Diesel fuel

If you have a gasoline-powered car and drive more than 15,000 km per year, you should consider diesel if you’re not planning on electric or hybrid.

Diesel remains a real alternative for high mileage owners. Aim to save up to €150 per year on fuel. Conversely, consider the hybrid if you do a lot of short trips or if you mainly drive around town and don’t think the time is right to go electric.

7. Tax Saver

Save €30 per year on road tax for a typical small family car by paying the full amount for the year instead of paying quarterly.

8. Carpooling

Use your car less frequently and reduce mileage by sharing transportation to work, events, etc. with a neighbor or colleague. Save on tolls and parking.