Regularly filling your car up with fuel can make a real dent on your bank balance.
That’s especially true right now, with fuel prices near to record highs: if you drive a petrol car then you can expect to pay an average of over £80 to fill it up at the pumps, rising to nearly £82 for a diesel , at the time of writing.
So, what can you do to spend less on fuel for your car?
Check your tyres
Fact: You may be surprised to learn that tyres account for 20 - 30% of your vehicle’s fuel consumption.
Under-inflated tyres have uneven contact with the road, meaning you’ll experience increased rolling resistance, which is the force acting opposite to the tyre’s direction of travel. You probably won’t even notice this, but you’ll be getting fewer miles to the gallon. It’s good practice to check your car’s tyre pressure once a month and before long journeys.
Powering an electric car is cheaper than filling up with petrol or diesel: the Energy Saving Trust has calculated that it could cost £568, on average, to charge an electric car battery at home for 10,000 miles per year, compared with an annual average fuel cost for a petrol Nissan Micra of £1,415.
Of course, there is more to consider than just the cost of fuel when switching to an electric car - read our guide to the pros and cons of buying an electric car.
Maintain your car
Ensuring you keep your car well maintained by having it regularly serviced, can help improve it’s efficiency and, as a result, its fuel economy.
As well as steps like ensuring your tyres are at the optimum pressure, this also includes things like having your car’s oil and air filter cleaned out regularly.
Fill up at a supermarket
Supermarket fuel tends to be cheaper than branded fuel at other garages. So, if you can, avoid petrol stations owned by oil companies and fill up at your local supermarket instead.
Don’t be worried that you’d be getting cut-price, poor quality fuel at a supermarket, as fuel from supermarkets must meet the same safety and quality standards as premium sellers.
If you’re not sure where to find the cheapest fuel, try using an app like PetrolPrices.com or WhatGas, which will show the cheapest fuel near you.
Use loyalty cards
Supermarkets often have loyalty schemes that can help save you money. For example, at Esso branded service stations with a Tesco Express shop, you can collect Clubcard points as well as use Clubcard vouchers. Nectar cards, which are valid at Sainsbury’s, BP, and Esso garages, will also give you points on fuel.
Some forecourt operators also have their own cards. For example, BP has its BPme scheme, where you can collect points on fuel purchased. Once you have 200 points, you'll be able to claim £1 off your next purchase on fuel or in the shop. So, much like with supermarket cards, you need to be a regular shopper to make it pay, but it can make a difference in the long run.
Turn off the air con or heating when you don’t need them
It can be easy to just turn up the air con or heating and forget about them.
But air conditioning and heating put a strain on the engine and can burn more fuel, especially at low speeds.
Energy Saving Trust says air conditioning can increase your fuel consumption by as much as 5%. On a hot day, it can be essential, but turning it down a notch could really help you save on fuel.
Read the road ahead
If you’re ever really short on fuel, you may find that you start driving differently in order to preserve what little is left in your tank. For example, you might take more care to anticipate obstacles, giving you time to slowly take your foot off the accelerator rather than slamming down on the brakes at the last moment.
But why not drive like this all the time? Why not take more care to read the road and avoid so much unnecessary braking or accelerating? By doing so, you could lower your fuel bill.
Ditch the junk
Are your car and boot full of accumulated junk that you don’t really use? If so, it can all add to a fair bit of extra weight, so be sure to clear it out. The same goes for that roof rack you never got around to taking down after your summer holidays. These things can all have an impact on your car’s fuel efficiency and ultimately your bank balance.
Research by the Department of Transport has found that driving at 80mph uses up to 25% more fuel than motoring at 70mph.
So, this one is easy: slow down to save fuel.