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The cost of driving crunch: Motorists struggling to afford rising bills

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The cost of driving crunch: Motorists struggling to afford rising bills

One in four motorists struggled to afford the cost of driving in the past month, as the cost of running a car has risen rapidly.

The average annual cost of driving a petrol-fuelled car has risen by £313 annually to just over £1,800, a report calculates, adding more than a fifth to the yearly cost of running a car.

One in three drivers are worried that they won’t be able to cover the cost of driving in the coming weeks, saying the rising cost has impacted their work and mental health, according to the latest research from Compare the Market.

A third of those surveyed said they may be forced to take on additional debt just to stay on the road. 

Drivers are growing more concerned about the rising cost of owning a vehicle, as fuel prices continued to soar across the UK last week and insurance prices jumped by almost £100 a year

More than 80 per cent of motorists have said to have spent more on fuel in the last six months, with a third having to pay more for car insurance policies amid soaring costs. 

As a result, almost one in three drivers have said they are struggling to pay for fuel, with one in ten saying they have found it difficult to cover the cost of car insurance.

This sharp rise in running costs has mainly been driven by increases in the price of petrol which are within a penny of the record high already this month – and are tipped to continue rising.

Diesel reached 178p last week, as the average annual petrol cost has increased by £221 to £943 compared to 2021.

On Sunday, the price of a litre of diesel surpassed £1.80 for the first time on record. 

Meanwhile, car insurance premiums for petrol cars has risen by £82 year-on-year, due to a rise in the value of second-hand cars and replacement part inflation. 

Some 60 per cent of motorists now believe driving has become too expensive for most people to afford, as more than eight in ten drivers are now concerned about higher petrol and diesel prices. 

Around 40 per cent of drivers say they don’t earn enough to cover the high costs, increasing to 55 per cent for those aged between 25 and 34. 

One in three motorists are also now expecting to take on additional debt just to stay on the road, as one in five admitted to asking family or friends for financial support.

The increasing cost of driving is not only harming people’s finances but also their careers, as almost one in four drivers have said higher car running costs have meant their job has suffered. 

People’s social lives are another aspect that has been impacted, with 38 per cent of drivers saying their social life has deteriorated, rising to 52 per cent for those aged between 25 and 34. 

Four in ten motorists have also visited their family less, due to the cost of driving, as half of motorists said they are making fewer journeys, and using less fuel, as a quarter are cutting back elsewhere just to afford fuel. 

Alex Hasty, director at comparethemarket.com, said: ‘As the cost of driving increases, it is becoming difficult for many drivers to stay on the road. 

‘Lots of people who do not live in a major city rely on their cars to get around. However, the high fuel costs are now forcing drivers to make fewer journeys, and some are needing to cut back on seeing friends and family. 

Fuel prices have skyrocketed in recent months on the back of the war in Ukraine. A litre of diesel now costs more than £1.80, while unleaded is within a penny of the previous record high

Fuel prices have skyrocketed in recent months on the back of the war in Ukraine. A litre of diesel now costs more than £1.80, while unleaded is within a penny of the previous record high

‘It is concerning that a number of people expect to go into debt to keep driving.

There are a number of ways you could save money on your car, from cutting down the cost of your insurance, or driving more fuel efficiently.  

Hasty said, ‘There are a few ways motorists could save money to help offset the higher costs. Driving smoothly and removing heavy items from your car can help your vehicle use less fuel. 

‘Making sure your tyres are at the correct pressure not only improves the safety of your car, but it can also cut petrol costs, as well as help your tyres last longer.’

You should also make sure your care is in tip-top shape, checking your tyre pressure regularly, putting your car in ‘eco mode’, and avoiding any heavy breaking or accelerating when on the road.   

Meanwhile, short-term car rentals could be the way forward for households looking to save money but still have access to a vehicle, says Virtuo’s CEO, Karim Kaddoura, as the average personal car sits idle for around 95 per cent of it’s lifetime.

He said, ‘Coupled with the fact that on average UK car owners spend over £3,000 to run their cars each year, and the average purchasing cost alone is £20-40k, it is not surprising that more people are turning to shared or rented vehicles, as a way to save money. 

‘It is completely conceivable why consumers are now asking themselves, “do I need to own a car?” when they are having to watch every penny. 

‘On top of the obvious financial benefits, there is also an environmental element which is becoming a greater factor in people’s decision making.’

Younger drivers can also save on their car insurance by opting for black box policies.

Poll

Would you consider a black-box telematics car insurance policy if it saved you more than £89 a year?

  • Yes 640 votes
  • No 2301 votes

Telematics premiums are reportedly the cheapest insurance option for four in five drivers aged under 20 and two thirds of drivers aged 21 to 24 years old.

Two thirds of drivers aged under 20 could half their annual cost and save an average of £1,137 per year, according to other research from Compare the Market. 

‘Motorists could also save more than £100 by switching to a cheaper insurance policy ahead of their renewal,’ Hasty added.

Switching car insurance appears to be something that many motorists are not in the habit of doing, as 17 million drivers reportedly let their car insurance auto-renew last year at a cost of £830million.

And, while the cost of car insurance may have accelerated, you can still save around £120 a year by switching providers when your insurance is up.

Hasty added that setting up reminders is crucial to ensure you don’t overpay on your insurance when you are up for renewal.

He concluded, ‘With Compare the Market, customers can set up automated car insurance renewal quotes and be notified automatically, which could help find them great deals and save them money.’

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