It’s no secret that owning and driving a car in London can be a fair bit more expensive compared to in other parts of the country. While purchasing a car might not be much different in price compared to elsewhere in the UK, running a car in London can get very pricey with high fuel costs, expensive parking charges and congestion charges to be paid. The good news is that London has an excellent public transport system, which reduces the need for most people living in the capital to have a car at all. Most Londoners don’t drive because they see no need to thanks to the highly regular and reliable Underground, Overground and bus services along with access to excellent train links to other parts of the country from central transport hubs such as Euston and Kings Cross St Pancras Stations.
That being said, sometimes owning a car is inevitable – even if you live in London. Keep reading for some tips and tricks to help you cut the cost of owning and running a car in the capital and keep your vehicle running costs as low as possible.
Drive an Electric Car
While an EV might cost you more to buy initially, it can be well worth the initial outlay for Londoners, as the running costs for an EV in London are much cheaper. When you drive an electric car, you will not only be exempt from the congestion charges in the central zones and the ultra-low emissions zones, but you’ll also have no need to fill the car up with fuel which can take up a significant amount of your car budget otherwise.
The best part is that there is no need to fork out tens of thousands to buy an electric car outright to use in London, either. As EVs become more and more popular, there are lots of lucrative leasing deals available that likely cost less per month in comparison with all the costs of running a petrol or diesel car in the capital. Why lease an electric car? Not only is it cheaper compared to buying, but there is also the option to swap your car for a newer model every few years, which is ideal for electric as they’re always improving, so you don’t miss out on any of the latest features.
Shop Around for Insurance
Insurance can be quite high in London due to the heavy traffic levels leading to a higher number of road accidents compared to elsewhere in the country. So, no matter what kind of car you opt for when it comes to driving in the capital, it’s worth spending some time shopping around for your insurance policy to make sure that you are getting the best deal. Staying loyal to the same insurer might be more convenient but it very rarely makes financial sense, as most insurance companies offer more perks to new customers compared to those who stay with them for a long time.
Each time your policy is up for renewal, it’s worth using comparison sites to find the best deal available to you right now. Starting early can bag you a better deal, as the closer you are to the date you need the insurance for, the higher you can expect your quotes to be. You may also want to consider opting for telematics insurance, which can help you save money for being a safe and careful driver.
If you live and work in London, then you might find that you don’t need to use your car to get to work, even if you need it for other purposes such as visiting family in other parts of the country. With the high cost of fuel and parking in the capital, using public transport for the everyday commute and keeping your car parked and ready for longer journeys can actually work out cheaper compared to using the car all the time. If you have a traditional combustion engine car, this can help you save a lot in fuel. Your insurance is also likely to be cheaper based on the fact that you are driving fewer miles and not taking part in the London rush hour traffic.
Find Private Parking
It is no secret that parking your car in London can often be one of the most expensive parts of car ownership in the capital. If you own your home or are looking to buy a home in London, then opting for a place with your own garage or driveway can be worth the additional investment. However, given that these are often hard to find or significantly expensive in the capital, seeking out private parking elsewhere might be worth it. Many people rent out their additional driveway spaces as a way of making some extra money, which can work out cheaper for you compared to paying to park on the road outside your home, although you may need to be willing to walk a while home after you’ve parked.
Are you living with a friend or relative, or close to somebody you know in London who needs access to a car on the days that you are not going to be using yours? If this is the case, then car sharing can be an ideal situation to consider in order to help the both of you save money. Having two drivers on the insurance policy can be an ideal way to bring the price down if you both have a decent amount of driving experience and do not have any previous driving convictions or serious claims. And, whether you are driving an electric or combustion engine car, sharing it with somebody else can help you both save money as you will be splitting the running cost between both of you.
Consider Car Hire
If you live in London and only need to drive a car from time to time, then car hire might be an ideal option for you to consider. Car hire in the capital is becoming more and more accessible, so you don’t have to go to a traditional car rental place to hire a car for the time that you need. Car hire clubs where you can pay a nominal monthly fee to join, and then an additional amount each time you need to use a car, can be ideal. Many of these clubs have cars parked around London that you can simply book and access using your smartphone, which is very convenient.
There are also car borrowing schemes that you might be interested in. These allow you to borrow cars from other drivers in the capital on the days that they do not need them. This is also something that’s worth looking into if you have your own car, as a way to make some additional money from it to put towards running costs.
Living in London can get expensive if you have a car. While the great public transport means that a car is not a necessity for many, the good news is that there are several things that you can do to save money on driving in the capital if you need a car either regularly or infrequently.