Beating the Credit Crunch

AA guide to cutting the cost of your motoring


Though many motorists feel powerless in the face of high fuel costs and the credit crunch, there's a lot you can do to save yourself money on all aspects of motoring.

Drive smart, shop around and match your spending to what you genuinely need and you can carve hundreds of pounds off your bills and help yourself to get through the credit crunch.

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Cost of fuel

Save money by being choosy about where you fill up and smart about how you drive.

Shop around

But don't drive around, do it online!

Websites such as will help you find the cheapest petrol local to you.

Supermarkets are now significantly cheaper than non-supermarket outlets – 2.5ppl cheaper than the UK average for unleaded.

Filling up at motorway services can cost you dearly – save money by filling up before motorway journeys or try a petrol station just off the motorway.

Drive smartly

The AA's Eco Driving Guide gives detailed advice on how to cut fuel consumption – and therefore costs.

Following this advice can cut more than 10% (£130 a year) off the average annual fuel bill, and some drivers have been known to save up to a third (over £400)!

Buying a car

In general, you will save money if you buy the smallest, most fuel-efficient vehicle that meets your needs.

The AA Car Buyers' Guide offers comprehensive advice on getting the best deal.

This can help you:

  • save money by getting the best deal when buying a new or used car
  • avoid losing money by buying a lemon and/or being ripped off, and
  • if you are trading in or trading up, to maximise the sale price on your existing car.

Car maintenance

When it comes to looking after your car, prevention is better than cure. Reduce the risk of expensive car problems by having your car serviced at recommended intervals. Regular servicing will also ensure your car is running efficiently, helping you to minimise running costs. Combining a service with an MOT will usually reduce the price.

Making regular checks yourself will also help you to prevent problems, and to stop minor issues growing into something costly and potentially dangerous.


Shop around and get more than one quote before choosing a garage to do the work – costs vary widely according to location and size of company.

Cheaper doesn't always mean better – avoid cowboys. Make sure the garage you choose is reputable. Ask friends, family or colleagues for recommendations. Also, a cheap deal is no use if they can't do the work for a month and you need the car tomorrow.

Explore any special deals available through your car manufacturer, insurance company or breakdown service.

If you have a garage you trust, see if they will match cheaper quotes in your area.

Motor Insurance

Shop around

The car insurance market is highly competitive: compare insurance quotes from several providers before choosing – but make sure you look at policy features as well as price. Some companies offer policies that are stripped to the bone but they might not offer the sort of cover you would expect. Read the small print to know exactly what you are getting. A bit of false economy now could mean a lot of expensive pain when it comes to making a claim!

Things to consider are:

  • the levels of compulsory excess you'll pay for things like accidental or windscreen damage
  • the level of cover you'll receive against theft of your personal belongings
  • whether or not a policy covers you to drive other cars
  • whether a policy covers you for driving in Europe, and if it does, for how long

Price comparison websites

These can save you time because they allow you to view prices for several quotes at once. Although the cheapest quote may look attractive, look closely at the policy benefits as well as the price, particularly with cheaper quotes where you may receive fewer benefits if you decide to pay a lower premium.

What does the AA do as an insurance broker?

As a leading car insurance broker the AA compares car insurance quotes from a panel of over 20 top insurers to find you the lowest quote we can, saving you time and money. And if you choose the AA for car insurance we'll help you find the best deal again when you come to renew your car insurance with us.

We also show you all of our car insurance policy benefits up front, so when we search for your car insurance quote you'll already know about the policy benefits you can receive.

As an illustration of the benefits of comparing the market, research shows that 25% of people could save £200 by switching to the AA for their car insurance.

Reduce your car insurance premium

While it pays to shop around for cheap car insurance, there are also things you can do to cut the cost of your current premium.

Here are some top tips:

  • If you have a garage use it. Clear out the junk and keep the car in it. This could get you a 10% reduction. If you don't have a garage, using the drive will also mean cheaper premiums than keeping the car on the street
  • Stick to the speed limit: if you get flashed by a speed camera your premiums will go up significantly
  • Buying online can mean a discount – 12.5% in the case of AA Insurance
  • The average annual mileage is calculated at around 10,000 miles. If you do less than this you could be entitled to a discount
  • Add security to your vehicle to reduce the risk of having it stolen. Tracking devices and immobilisers are likely to attract the best discounts. And remember that fancy modifications and alloy wheels that attract thieves can add to your premiums
  • Add a named driver – especially if they have a good no-claim record and clean licence. Apart from being helpful if you need someone to drive your car in an emergency, a second driver may attract a premium reduction
  • What's your occupation? Insurers base premiums on claims experience for particular occupations. There are often differences in premium depending on how you can legitimately describe your job. For example, a 'lawyer' will pay less than a 'solicitor' and a 'landlord' less than a 'publican'. It is important not to lie – this will invalidate your insurance – but, for example, calling yourself a 'writer' rather than a 'journalist' will save you around £20
  • Think about how much you're prepared to fork out if you do make a claim. Add another £100 or £200 excess and your annual premium will come down

Young drivers

If you're a young or newly-qualified driver, consider the Driving Standards Agency's Pass Pluss initiative. The course helps you improve your driving experience in key areas like driving at night and on motorways, and could get you a discount on your car insurance.

Learn more about cheaper car insurance for younger drivers »

Older drivers

  • If you're approaching retirement and looking forward to putting the daily drive to work behind you, there's more good news. Once you retire you'll be able to tell your insurer about a significant reduction in your annual mileage, which could bring a reduction in your premium
  • If you're a parent with teenage children, who are learning to drive, it's worth encouraging them to buy their own car and insure it themselves, as you'll be helping them towards their own no-claims discount and cheaper car insurance in the long run. If you are thinking about getting your son or daughter insured as an additional driver of your car, it's worth bearing in mind that if they have an accident your no-claims bonus will be affected
  • If you're looking for a better car insurance deal, you could try Confident Cover the insurance comparison website for the over 50s

Breakdown Cover

Some tips on how to get the best value for money on breakdown cover.

  • Think carefully about your motoring habits and personal situation (single/married/with children/one or two cars/etc) and buy only the type and level of breakdown cover that you need .
  • Once you have taken out cover, keep your situation under review: if your circumstances change it might pay to change the type/level of your cover.
  • How you buy can also save you money – e.g. the AA offers up to 35% off when you buy online.
  • When choosing a breakdown provider, look carefully at what you actually get for your money. In the case of the AA this includes:
    • roadside and recovery assistance 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
    • the AA has more dedicated patrols than any other provider
    • the AA fixes more breakdowns by the roadside (80%) than anyone else
    • there is no charge for labour at the roadside, no matter how long it takes
    • the AA was rated best breakdown provider in the most recent Which? survey, for the second year running
  • And don't forget member benefits – in the AA's case, taking out breakdown cover opens up a wide range of discounts on everything from MOTs to car hire, airport parking, cruises and other holidays – which can more than pay back the cost of your membership.

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27 August 2010