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Drive prices down – Cut car costs by fuelling around

Irish News of the World

February 1st, 2009

Diarmuid MacShane

Are you being driven around the bend paying more to keep your car on the road, or are you cruising now that it’s costing you a lot less? This week we’ll look at the recent changes in motoring costs, and how to save a few quid here and there.

Petrol and diesel prices have plunged since October from a high of €1.40 per litre to less than €1. But have you noticed that petrol is slowly creeping up again recently, despite the price of oil remaining low? Do garages think that we won’t mind paying a few more cents than we should just to boost their profits because we’ve paid higher in the past?

Buying petrol up North won’t unfortunately save us cash, but you can use the website www.pumps.ie to find out the lowest costs in your area. And remember, if you see cheap petrol somewhere make sure you take advantage by topping up instead of always running to empty and reducing your options to chose the price you pay.

This week we found out that car insurance costs would be going up again. If 2008 was the safest year ever and a recent EU survey found that 8 in 10 Irish people felt safer on the roads, why the price hikes? Are insurance companies’ screwing customers to make up for falling profits because of losses on their stock market investments?

So how can you beat these unfair price rises? Remember that insurance companies depend on most people automatically renewing their car insurance instead of shopping around for better offers first.

Even if you think you don’t have the time it can be well worth your while calling 3 or 4 insurance companies for a quote. A recent Financial Regulator survey found that the same person could get quotes of between €426 and €840 for the same insurance cover. Threaten to leave your current insurer – they may drop their prices to get you to stay.

With car sales stalling during 2008 and already falling 16% in 2009, ValueIreland.com is being told two different stories about the price of cars.

On the one hand, some of our readers are seeing up to €10,000 being knocked of the price of new cars, and some 2nd hand great bargains in garages and at auctions. But on the other hand, some think that garages would rather go out of business than sell a car at a discount.

Because garages now are less likely to accept a trade in because they don’t know what the car might be worth in 6 months time and because they might not be able to shift it, if you are in the market for a new car though, you could try to flog your car yourself.

A new Irish website www.CarForeCourt.ie will let you upload your car details for any interested garage or individual who’s looking for a similar car to come to you. You can also see what cars others have to offer and even potentially see if you could arrange a swap.

And if you want 2 cars, you could always keep an eye out for the “buy one, get one free” that a couple of Irish garages have offered recently, mirroring what’s happening in the US and UK.

With the fall in new and second hand car sales, it might just mean that we’ll be forking out more on servicing, repairs and passing the dreaded NCT just to keep our cars on the road for longer.

However, because garages aren’t selling as many cars, they’ll be keen to get your servicing business instead. With this in mind, you should be able to drive a hard bargain by calling a few garages to see how low they might go. Don’t be afraid to haggle and play one off against the other. Make sure you get a written quotation – it saves any hassles later.

You could get your car serviced at home or at work. There are several Irish companies that will to come to you to service your car. Since their costs are lower, you should be able to get yourself a good deal.

A top money saving tip is to avoid paying for a “pre-NCT” service. Why not just have your NCT done and if you fail, you’ll know exactly what needs to be fixed rather than paying for stuff that might not need to be fixed.

Finally, how about getting your car serviced in Northern Ireland? We’ve been told that you can find significant discounts on servicing in Newry and Belfast. If you plan it right, you can drop your car off in the morning, do your shopping around town, collect your newly serviced car, and set off for home with your northern shopping bargains, saving yourself a bundle on the trip.

Check out these links below for more of the ValueIreland.com Top Tips for Motoring:

3 comments On Drive prices down – Cut car costs by fuelling around

  • Funny you should say that, Diarmuid, I’ve just gone and gotten a quote to service my car with the main dealer, got a better quote in the main dealership in Enniskillen, and came back to my local dealer who immediately dropped his price by €50, just like that. Unfortunately for him (and I like the guy, went to school with him and all), the Northern Irish quote was still beating him by about €80, so that’s where I’m going on Tuesday. They’ll drop me in to the shopping centre, call me when my car’s ready, send a taxi to get me, and I’ll drive home in my newly serviced car, with a boot full of cheaper shopping.

  • @Dermot – thanks for the comment. It’s not something I’d have thought of myself until I did a bit of research on the topic.

    If you can find an amenable garage like you have, you can get a lot done in one trip to the north.

    If you were a real glutton for punishment, you could probably fit in a trip to the dentist as well 🙂

  • The reason for this is that various tax and duty makes up most of the price at the pump. Subtract say 80% from the petrol prices and you’ll see the graph match up a lot better.

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