The coronavirus outbreak has brought no short supply of uncertainty to people right across the UK, as many are left fearful for their financial stability and that of their family.
Scores of workers have already lost their jobs to the disease, with thousands forced to tighten purse strings in an effort to ride out the storm of unemployment and economic downturn.
With the vast majority of the nation’s 32.5 million passenger vehicles sat in stasis on driveways and in garages, many motorists will be eager to find ways of cutting costs when it comes to maintaining their car during lockdown.
To give drivers a helping hand, we’ve put together just some of the best things that they can do to preserve their precious pounds.
Declare your car SORN
Insuring your car can be pricey at the best of times but can seem especially so when the vehicle is getting little or no use.
However, a lot of people are unaware that even if you do not use your vehicle, you must still have it insured, unless you declare it SORN.
This is only permitted if the vehicle will be kept on private ground – if you plan on storing it on public land, you will still have to pay insurance.
To declare your car SORN, get in touch with the DVLA, who will ask you to state the date from which you want the removal of the vehicle to come into effect.
If you do not want to declare you car as SORN, then you still see if you can reduce your bills by comparing car insurance costs and switching to a cheaper deal.
Ask your car provider about payment holidays
Those who have purchased a car on finance, using a personal loan for example, may be worried that they won’t be able to keep on top of the payments should they find themselves out of work.
Car manufacturers are recognising this struggle and are offering relief to customers in the form of payment holidays.
Inspired by similar assistance from the government for people with mortgages, these could see customers having their payments frozen for a period of up to three months.
Though some car companies have already introduced payment holidays, many more are still investigating the practicalities of doing so. Therefore, motorists who are on a plan should contact their provider to see if this opportunity is available for them. Tip: Be sure to find out how any payment holiday would affect your credit score.
Keep journeys down to a minimum
The government has been urging people to keep all non-essential travel to an absolute minimum, with journeys to work or for food and urgent medical supplies some of the few exceptions.
Drivers should recognise the financial benefits that come with heeding this advice. By cutting out all travel that isn’t vital, motorists can make big savings on their average fuel expenditure, freeing up cash to be used elsewhere.
Where essential journeys must be made, people should also consider whether they can go on foot rather than by road.
There are many little hacks you can use to bring down the costs of running and maintaining your vehicle, as we describe in our cost cutting article for taxi drivers.
Having the correct pressure can help drivers to get better fuel efficiency out of their car, yet regularly checking tyre pressures is a simple but easily forgotten way of being economical.
What’s more, air is free at a large number of the UK’s petrol stations and garages, which have been allowed to remain open.
Another easy hack to make is removing unnecessary baggage and items from your boot, as carrying this extra weight around can have a detrimental impact on your vehicle’s fuel efficiency.
Whatever people do, they should ensure that their spare tyre is kept in the car at all times. You never know when you might need to replace a tyre, or how easy it might be to get a new one when supply is stretched so thin.
Switching off air conditioning can also help to save fuel, and motorists should instead consider driving with the windows down, where possible. However, this is only effective at suburban speeds, as having the windows open on motorways or lengthy journeys can be bad for fuel economy.
Covid-19 has already hit the wallets of thousands – perhaps millions – of people pretty hard, and with no light at the end of the tunnel clearly within sight, it’s likely that many more will suffer financially in the months ahead.
At such a trying time, it’s therefore important for people to be as protective over their finances as they can possibly be and saving money on their cars is a great way of achieving this.
Don’t assume you have to continue pumping pennies into your vehicle if it won’t get used – it could end up making all the difference.