10 ways to save on fuel costs

You’ve done your homework: found a dream used car, had all the history checks done to make sure it’s a legitimate bargain, and now you’re ready to drive it. Go ahead and enjoy – but use our top tips to help you save on fuel costs and get the most out of the valuable fuel you put in it.

The cost of living continues to squeeze households and, with conflicts around the world, energy costs still high, and a harsh winter on the way, it’s sensible to continue thinking about saving money in your motoring.

Driving is a pleasure and should remain that way, but there is no reason why you shouldn’t take prudent steps to keep your fuel expenses down so that you can go on enjoying the car that you spent your hard-earned money purchasing.

A recent survey by car servicing chain KwikFit revealed that 39% of drivers of petrol or diesel-engined cars are hitting the road less than they did at the start of this year. And, as electricity prices continue to rise, 23% of hybrid or electric vehicle (EV) owners have also reined in their car use.

As well as getting behind the wheel less than they used to, many owners say they have also delayed changing their current car. A fifth of drivers questioned (19%) say they will look for new wheels later while nearly one in ten (9%) say they have swapped their car for a more economical model, including moving over to an electric or hybrid model.

Getting a history check before buying any used car is a good use of your motoring budget. Motorcheck’s analysis starts at just £9.99 for a Single Check. It’s money well spent and, with the average cost of filling up a family car with petrol or diesel now around the £100 mark, you’ll also need our top 10 tips for keeping fuel costs down.

Top 10 tips for keeping fuel costs down:

1. Engine: Keep it regularly serviced or at least look after it yourself on a consistent basis so that it runs well. An efficient engine with fresh oil and clean air filters will perform much better in terms of fuel economy.

2. Tyres: Your tyres are as important for saving fuel as the engine. Any that are under-inflated even by 10 per cent can increase rolling resistance and therefore fuel use. And anyway, correctly inflated tyres are safer and will last much longer.

3. Windows: Having windows open unnecessarily is like driving around with a parachute open. Air is trapped so drag increases, making you put your foot down on the accelerator further, using more fuel. Air conditioning also uses engine power (and fuel) to work so limit its use when you can.

4. Filling up: There’s nothing wrong with shopping around to find the best pump prices, but don’t be lured into driving miles to save a penny or two per litre – getting to a distant fuel station could cost more money.

5. Gears:  Always use as high a gear as possible once you have got up to cruising speed. The higher the gear, the lower the engine revs, so efficiency is improved. Change up when you can and engage cruise control too to stay at a constant speed.

6. Smooth driving: The road is not a racetrack so there’s no need to drive like you’re on one. Aggressive acceleration and braking pushes up fuel consumption, so look ahead for traffic and decelerate early, cruising to a stop gently, to get the most mpg out of your car.

7. Excess weight: If you don’t need a load of bags, tools and other items rolling around in your boot, take them out. Unnecessary weight has to be lugged around somehow and this increases fuel use. As do roof racks and bike carriers – so take them off when not needed.

8. Bulbs: Fitting energy-saving bulbs can save emissions and money. Lighting such as Philips EcoVision produces less energy than standard headlight bulbs and can last four times as long, meaning fewer bills to pay in general maintenance costs.

9. Follow lorries: Racing drivers and Olympic cyclists don’t get in someone else’s slipstream for nothing – less air resistance certainly saves fuel so get behind lorries (not too close) on motorways and A-roads and make the most of the ‘tunnel’ of clear air behind them.

10. Don’t drive in neutral: It’s not the case for most cars, that coasting downhill in neutral will save fuel. That still leaves the engine ticking over which is using petrol. Coast along in a high gear and then use the gearbox to help slow you to a stop. That will save your brake pads too.