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Running a car at uni? Don't let the costs hold you back

3rd October 2013

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If you are a student looking to buy a car, you are probably going to become rather popular with your colleagues. Unfortunately, as a student, you probably aren't rolling in money and your car is likely to be eating quite a bit of your cash. That's cash that could otherwise be spent on things like going out and enjoying a beer. Oh and books, of course. So how can you save money without ditching the motor?

Is your car fit for purpose?

The type of car most suited to the student life is likely to be small, with a fuel-efficient engine. Small cars are generally cheaper to insure, usually less attractive to thieves (although there are exceptions to this rule) and cost less to fill with petrol.

Yet while fuel is expensive, it is far from the only major cost involved in car ownership. Before you buy a car, get it checked over by a knowledgeable friend, or consider getting it inspected by the AA or RAC. The reason for this is simple: a car that is not mechanically sound, or is starting to show serious signs of age, is likely to cost you a small fortune in upkeep, repairs and servicing. If you can buy a small car which is, or has recently been, very popular, then this can also save you money because replacement parts are more likely to be easy to find and cheap.

Fuel facts

No driver can escape the cost of fuel, it’s expensive, but at least it is one area of motoring cost that is under your control. Tips for saving money on petrol include:

  • Go online and research petrol prices in your area. The price differences may well surprise you.
  • Ask your friends to chip in and help to pay for petrol. As a student with a car, you are likely to be in a pretty small minority and you are going to get asked for lifts. Probably quite often. It's only fair that your passengers contribute; in fact if they are regular passengers, they should probably be contributing to other running costs as well. Don't become an unpaid taxi driver. Consider who you give lifts to, especially if the people in question are not friends of yours. Being too nice can end up costing you hundreds.
  • Lose weight. From your car, obviously. Extra weight in a car increases its rate of fuel consumption. So if you have a bike, sports gear, boxes of books or the kitchen sink in the back of your car, get rid of it all and your bank balance will thank you.
  • Change the way you drive. Driving in a more fuel-efficient manner saves money. This means keeping revs down (always drive in the highest gear suitable), maintaining as even a speed as possible and avoiding unnecessary braking. Even turning off the car stereo or air conditioning and keeping your tyre pressures optimal can make a difference over time.
So you see, although running a car is not cheap, there is no need to let it restrict your student lifestyle. Follow a few of these tips and hopefully you will soon have all the funds for socialising that you need!

Feature contributed by Jamie Englert from

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