How To Cut Your Fuel Costs
Fuel price rises can be a painful addition to motoring costs; we have taken a look at some top tips to save up to 30% on your fuel bill.
The heavier your car, the more fuel is required to move it. Every ounce you lose will save money at the pumps, so only carry the bare essentials.
Air conditioning is less costly than open windows, but it still uses power and can increase the fuel thirst of a small engine by up to 10%. If already fitted you need to run it once a week to keep the system healthy.
As soon as you can, accelerate smoothly and gently up to a safe, appropriate (and legal) speed and select as high a gear as possible, keeping the revs down to minimise fuel use without labouring the engine. Between short fuel burns to maintain momentum, lift off the accelerator completely, which shuts off the fuel supply. Never coast in neutral; idling uses more fuel than running in gear on a closed throttle. If you're not moving at all, switch off.
Brakes turn fuel into waste heat and should be used as little as possible (try never on motorways). Approaching any obstruction, such as traffic lights on red (or green for a long time and likely to change), don't just drive up to it and brake; reduce your speed by lifting off the accelerator, aiming to roll to a stop at the right place. Make driving an enjoyable game of economy and accuracy.
Don't rush to replace a "thirsty" car until you've worked out the cost/benefit equation; you want to save money, not spend it. Used values are falling, and unless you're downsizing from a large car to a small car or a motorcycle/scooter (or indeed selling up altogether) you might be better off running your current car as efficiently as possible for as long as you can.
Get the car serviced regularly (according to the manufacturer's schedule) to maintain engine efficiency. Make sure you use the right specification of engine oil (check the handbook. Check tyre pressures regularly and before long journeys; under-inflated tyres create more rolling resistance and so use more fuel (check the handbook and increase pressures for heavier loads as recommended)
Many petrol stations sell 'high performance' fuels, yet there's little or no performance difference for most standard cars. So for an easy saving, don't fill up with the super fuels unless you have a sports car that you have been advised will actually use the petrol correctly.
Cold starts use more fuel so it pays to combine errands such as buying the paper, dropping off the recycling, or collecting the kids. If it's a short journey (a couple of miles or so) could you walk or cycle rather than taking the car?
The faster you go the greater the fuel consumption and pollution. Driving at 70mph uses up to 9% more fuel than at 60mph and up to 15% more than at 50mph. Cruising at 80mph can use up to 25% more fuel than at 70mph.
Leave promptly and don't start the engine until you're ready to go as idling wastes fuel and the engine warms up more quickly when you're moving; in the winter, scrape ice rather than leave the car idling to warm up.
Electrical loads increase fuel consumption, so turn off your heated rear windscreen, demister blowers and headlights, when you don't need them.
Supermarkets often run petrol promotions. As their forecourts are usually cheap for fuel (always check), these schemes mean you can make some decent savings. The offers are usually something like "spend £50 and get a 5p off/litre voucher".