As the UK Lockdown continues, and the general populace continues to come to terms with their new reality – both logistically and financially – we at Carsnip thought we could provide some support to the… read more...
As the UK Lockdown continues, and the general populace continues to come to terms with their new reality – both logistically and financially – we at Carsnip thought we could provide some support to the users of our platform by creating a ‘Top Tips’ for the car owner!
So without further ado; here are our tips for the best ways car owners can save money and look after their vehicles during this prolonged period of low usage.
Admiral (the UK’s largest car insurance group) announced earlier this week that all of its customers will be receiving a £25 refund on their policies for each car covered – calling it the ‘Stay At Home Refund’. This is due to Admiral receiving a lower number of claims (as far fewer vehicles are on the roads) and are saving money as a result. Admiral are the first insurance group to take the initiative and offer something like this to their customers; although there is pressure for others to follow suit. Whilst we can all agree that a £25 refund isn’t exactly a huge amount – especially given the premiums that some of us pay – the gesture is very much appreciated and is sure to be remembered when Lockdown finally ends (and renewal time comes around)! Hopefully we will soon see more offers of this nature from the other insurers, and from other similar businesses as well.
Further to this however, if the Lockdown – or any other factor – causes you to travel significantly less miles in your insurance year than you stated when taking out your policy then you can apply for a refund. Simply contact your insurance provider to do so.
However it is worth bearing in mind that insurance quotes are produced on a ‘personal’ basis, and there may be other factors in play causing price fluctuations. Essentially there is never a guarantee of a refund – but it may be worth your time to check!
There are also usually admin fees for making policy changes like this, so ensure any saving outweighs the applicable admin fee!
‘SORN’ Your Vehicle
‘Statutory Off-Road Notification’
This is a drastic move and won’t be feasible for most; but for example if you live in a household with two or more vehicles you could consider ‘taking your vehicle off the road’ – both legally and literally speaking. To SORN a car it must be off the road and on private property. Essentially it removes the requirement for a car to have live tax and insurance (although it obviously means that you won’t be able to drive the car).
This could save some households money; but whether it is worthwhile very much depends on how long Lockdown lasts. If it only lasts until the end of the current announced period this is a lot of hassle and paperwork for an arguably small saving – but if it lasts considerably longer (or if you can live without use of the vehicle in question to begin with as Lockdown is gradually lifted) then it may be worth doing.
Remember that applying for a SORN takes time and effort, you only get a refund of tax for full months left unused (if you paid for car tax in advance), and cancelling an insurance policy usually involves a cancellation fee. Crunch the numbers thoroughly before committing to this one!
We bought news to you at the time when this was announced; but for those that aren’t already aware – the government announced a few weeks ago that all valid MOT certificates with an expiry dated AFTER March 30th would receive a 6 month extension of said certificate. Simply put, if your MOT was due for renewal after that date, you don’t have to worry about it for 6 extra months. This was introduced in a bid to reduce strain on garages, allowing their reduced staff levels to concentrate on repairs and upkeep jobs for key workers – to ensure that they of all people can stay on the move.
This is good news for everyone affected, but to maximise the potential savings from this you can use some of your Lockdown-induced free time to fettle your vehicles and keep them in tip-top condition, and potentially make some small repairs/replacements that would otherwise have caused you to fail an MOT.
I am by no means suggesting here that everyone rushes to Halfords and stocks up on 10mm sockets and jack-stands, in order to replace their cars track-rod ends since many people (including several of us in the office) wouldn’t have the first clue where to start! However, small items like bulbs (headlights, indicators etc) can often be changed with few tools and little prior experience and washer fluid can be topped up, etc. See the list here of things that are checked during a MOT.
You can also help local businesses at this time by booking your MOT in advance and prepaying; giving garages and MOT centres much needed cashflow during these turbulent times.
Car Finance Payment Holiday
Carsnip published a full summary of the options that are appearing from various finance houses to help their customers in response to Covid, and the final governmental position on the matter is expected to be announced on April 24th.
However many car finance providers are already offering (of their own accord) options to their customers to help them; as large numbers of consumers are struggling to meet their financial obligations due to reductions in earnings or even losing their jobs entirely. The most common of these support mechanisms is the ‘payment holiday’; which is being broadly employed to essentially delay the customers requirements to make payment for a 3 month period – although their finance contract will continue for 3 months longer than originally agreed to to balance this out. No interest is being charged to penalise those who make use of this, and similarly regulatory guidance so far has shown that customers who make use of this offer will not see any negative impact on their credit files; in other words they do not count as the dreaded ‘missed payments’ with their associated red mark.
Our advice would be to only utilise this option if you are genuinely struggling however, as it may otherwise not be for the best in the long run to extend your financial commitments for 3 months (despite the fact that it technically doesn’t cost you extra)! It is also important to bear in mind that even if it is not requested upfront, at some point you may be required to prove the financial hardship that led to you applying for the payment holiday! Basically as with everything else (particularly with the world how it is now) only make use of this if you genuinely require it.
Driving Charges (London)
We have previously released more in depth guidance on the London Congestion Charge, and the ULEZ charge, as well as updating our followers on our social media accounts in real time when the government announced the temporary suspension of these charges in the current crisis.
The action was taken to assist key workers in getting around the capital city as easily and freely as possible; given their vitally important roles in keeping our country going. For now the suspension remains in place, and – at least whilst the Lockdown is in place – this is unlikely to change.
This is not an encouragement to go out driving in the city unnecessarily, as we should all still be staying at home to reduce the spread of Covid as per the government guidelines. However for those that do have an essential need to travel in London, you now temporarily have no need to worry about the road-user charges that have applied for several years to the streets of the capital.
TFL will update their website when this changes.
Protect Your Vehicle
One key way to save yourself some money in the long run is to ensure that right now (whilst your vehicle isn’t moving much – if at all) you are doing everything you can in the name of upkeep. For example:
- Purchase a car cover. If your car rarely/never moves at the moment then a car cover may be a good idea to protect it (mainly the paint work) from the elements – and from, erm, bird-related disasters! (We’ve all had this happen before, come on). A car cover saves your paint from all of these things; but the initial cost is quite high – so it may depend on the value of your car, or if your driveway has lots of trees overhanging it etc as to whether this is worthwhile for you.
- Turn your car on regularly, or purchase a trickle charger. This is because your car’s battery will drain over time if it isn’t used – so turn it on every couple of days (minimum) or buy a trickle charger to save yourself the effort. A dead battery is the last thing anyone needs if for any reason they needed to use their car for an emergency!
- Drive your car if possible (occasionally)! Only do so for something that you were already going to do which is essential – for example going shopping. But try and make sure your car properly moves around once a week, as this is the best way to avoid things ‘seizing’ up.
If you bear all of these things in mind and action only the ones that are most appropriate for you; then you should be well set to look after your vehicles and hopefully save some money as you are doing so.
If you can think of anything missing from this list then let us know, and we will relay the best suggestions to our audience in the future. Remember, in times like this all we can do is assist each other wherever and whenever we can!
Carsnip is the UK’s largest used car search engine, with over 500,000 dealer sold used cars across the UK. We operate a natural language search engine, to help you find your perfect used car, and narrow down the choice by what’s most important to you.
About the Author
Sam Wardega is a freelance car journalist working on behalf of Carsnip.com.
A lifetime Petrolhead who started with Hot Wheels aged 2, and now just spends his life savings on owning his dream cars. As they say, boys don’t stop playing with toys; they just get bigger and more expensive!
Disclaimer: The content contained in this article is for information only purposes, and does not constitute financial advice in any way. Carsnip is a search engine for buyers to find a new car, and does not endorse any of the finance products presented by the dealers who may advertise through our website. This information is correct at the time of publishing. Any queries should be directed to email@example.com