Minimising the cost of motoring is easier than counting to ten. The first step is to buy a car from a low insurance group, say 1 to 5 rather than 40 to 50. These include the Volkswagen Take up! (Group 1), the Ford Ka Studio (Group 2), the Citroen C1 VT 1.0i (Group 3), the Kia Picanto 1 Air (Group 4) and Fiat 500 Pop 1.2 (Group 5). Interestingly, insurance ratings are set by a panel of insurers based on information from research centre Thatcham. Various factors are considered. The first is the cost of parts to repair simulated front/rear impacts at 9.3mph. These could include bumpers, etc. The accessors also consider how long the repairs take as mechanics charge by the hour. As such, city cars that emerge from these collisions tend to have lower ratings than luxury saloons as the latter are more likely to have expensive features such as cameras, etc. Thatcham also evaluates the replacement cost of twenty-three common components. A motorist's insurance premium might be reduced - irrespective of the insurance group rating - by adding experienced named drivers to the policy, earning a no claims discount, moving to a low crime area and committing to a small annual mileage. New motorists – on occasions - can also save by completing the Pass Plus Course which takes about six hours.
The next consideration is road tax that includes rates for new (first year only), middle aged, old and classic cars. First year rates for petrol and diesel vehicles are based on carbon emissions so they sit in Groups A to M. The former emit 100g/km or less and – as this is low – can be taxed for free. Group M cars have emissions of at least 255g/km so the rate is £1,065. Alternatively fuelled vehicles also sit in Groups A to M but the rates are slightly lower (£0 to £1,055). Furthermore, middle aged petrol, diesel and alternatively fuelled cars - that were registered from March 1st 2001 - are classified in the same manner but with prices from £0 to £490. So, cash savers should buy cars with low carbon emissions. In contrast, models registered prior to March 1st 2001 are taxed on engine size, e.g. 1.2-litres. The cost for cars of 1,549cc or less is £140 rising to £225 for those above – so smaller engines save money. Finally, classics registered before January 1st 1973 can be taxed for free irrespective of carbon emissions, fuel type and engine size.
There are various other ways a motorist can minimise expenditure. He/she can, for example, save fuel by driving smoothly and keeping the engine revolutions low. Ensuring that the tyres are at the correct pressure saves fuel too – and extends their life considerably. Furthermore, whereas maintenance can be expensive it tends to save money long term. Why? Because minor faults can be fixed cheaply before they become serious and expensive. And then there is depreciation, i.e. loss of resale value. This can be minimised by maintaining the service history and looking after the bodywork/interior.