If you think your car is expensive to run, you’re probably thinking of the high price of fuel, MOTs, insurance and tax. But there’s another cost that’s really starting to bite into Brits’ budgets.
Recent figures from Confused.com show more than one British driver in five spends over £150 on parking every single month. £150 a month adds up to £1,800 a year – that’s even higher than my car insurance!
In total, the price comparison website worked out that British drivers are paying £8 billion a year simply to park – a rise of 12.5% on the previous year.
Of course, it’s much worse for some. One car park in Knightsbridge, London, charges £36 for three hours of parking!
So what you can do to keep the price of parking down?
[Related link: Could you save on car insurance? Compare quotes now]
Get the technology
If you have a smartphone, or just hop online before you drive anywhere, it’s fairly straightforward to compare parking costs and find the cheapest.
The AA parking app costs £1.99 and has wide coverage of all paid and free car parks in the UK and Ireland.
It can even flag up park and ride locations, and show you parking space availability in real time.
Confused.com has just launched an app that directs you to the nearest, cheapest car park, while ParkNearby is free and searches for cheap and free spaces in London – but is expanding to cover the rest of the UK soon.
[Related story: Airport parking cheaper for planes than cars]
One answer to expensive car parks is to abandon them entirely. If you regularly park in the same location, perhaps for work, it might be worth looking for a private drive or garage you could rent during the day – while the owner is out at their own job.
Admittedly, most people won’t advertise their car parking space on classifieds websites (it’s like telling burglars: “Hello, no one’s home at these hours on these days!’).
But there are companies that pair up spare driveways with drivers, such as Parkatmyhouse.com.
The company claims that drivers can save up to 70% of their normal parking costs by booking a private driveway or parking space through its system.
You don’t even have to book an ongoing space; you can find and pay for spaces through the website when you’re out and about.
I ran a trial search for parking spaces near my local station. The official car parks all charge a minimum of £6 a day. However, through this website I found several spaces nearby for just £15 a week.
Of course, I live in a small town, the rents can be higher in cities – but then, so can the savings.
If you’re spending a fortune on parking, you could offset that cost by renting out your own driveway. According to ParkatmyHouse.com, customers who live near sports stadiums can earn around £400 a space per year, while you can earn as much as £1,000 if you’re near an airport.
One customer, Katie, lives close to Southampton's cruise terminal and has two parking spaces. She charges £25 for a week's parking – much cheaper than the official parking in the area. Over the last three years, she’s earned £4,500 to help support her family.
Fight parking tickets
One of the most frustrating parking expenses is a ticket, especially if you don’t feel it was justified.
Have you ever appealed a parking ticket you felt was unfair? The financial penalty for a standard ticket can be between £60 and £130, depending on the council, making it a particularly expensive day’s parking!
Only a handful of parking tickets are ever appealed, but the majority of appeals are successful. So, if you’re confident that you’ve got a case then don’t just accept the parking ticket – fight it!
If you feel the ticket was unfair because the road markings were not clear or there were no obvious signs, or because you had actually paid for your parking, then take photographs of the evidence if you can. If you have any witnesses who support your case, get their details and take a quick signed statement.
Of course, if the ticket has been fairly issued then you’re best off paying immediately. Councils usually only charge half the penalty if you pay it within a set period, usually 14 days.
If you think a car parking ticket was unfair but you’re unsure about how successful your claim will be, then pay the fine while it’s still half price and then appeal it. Paying is not an admission of guilt.
[Related feature: How to beat parking fines]
Fight private parking tickets
If a council-issued fine is painful, a privately-issued one can be even higher. There have been endless complaints and news stories about extortionate charges from private car parks.
Perhaps the most frustrating are the fines for overstaying in free car parks, especially if you’ve spent the time visiting the surrounding shops.
The good news is that from October, there’s an independent appeals service. So, if you complain about an unfair charge and the private company won’t repeal it, you’ll be able to take your fight to an independent adjudicator.
Check out the British Parking Association’s information page for more details on your new rights.
How much do you pay for parking? Have you ever fought an unfair ticket? What happened? Share your thoughts and experiences with other readers in the comments below.