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The essential guide to cutting your fuel costs

calendar Published on: Thursday, 22nd February 2018 | female icon Author: Aminta Gagnon

Letís face it, filling up at the pumps can make a serious dent in your bank balance, especially if you use your car a lot. However, if youíre savvy, there are ways to bring your spending on fuel down. Keep reading for some simple but effective suggestions that could help you save money.

Your car

Firstly, it pays to try to find ways to make your car more fuel-efficient. For example, keeping your tyres inflated to the correct level has been shown to reduce fuel consumption by up to three per cent. Itís a good idea to check your tyre pressure at least every couple of weeks, and before you make long journeys. If you find that the pressure in your tyres keeps dropping unexpectedly quickly, they may be damaged. For this reason, itís wise to get them checked out by a specialist technician to see if you need to have new tyres fitted. 

Clearing the clutter from your vehicle is another way to make it more fuel efficient. This is because the lighter your car is, the less energy it requires in order to accelerate. So, if you have a habit of storing unnecessary items in your boot, itís time to find them a new home. On average, for every 50kg you remove, you could make fuel savings of up to two per cent - or even more in small vehicles. 

If you have a roof rack, make sure you detach it when youíre not using it. Although leaving it on all the time might seem like a time-saving solution, itís worth bearing in mind that the extra drag your roof rack creates can increase your fuel consumption considerably. In fact, the RAC estimates that the added resistance can add as much as 10 per cent to your fuel bills. 

Remember to get your car serviced regularly too to ensure the engineís working as efficiently as possible.

Your driving habits

The way you behave when youíre behind the wheel can also have a big impact on how much fuel you burn. One way to lower your spending at the pumps is to drive more slowly. Did you know that slowing down from 80 mph to 70 mph could mean you save up to 25 per cent in fuel, while dropping your speed from 70 mph to 60 mph could save a further 10 per cent? 

Another top tip is to make an effort to accelerate more smoothly and to avoid over-revving your engine. The harder you press on the pedal, the more fuel youíll use. Make sure you change gear in time too. As a general rule, try to switch up a gear before you hit 2,500 revs if youíre driving a petrol car and 2,000 revs in a diesel car.  This might mean you take a little longer to reach your target speed, but itíll help you to bring your spending down. 

Smooth driving is usually efficient driving. With this in mind, itís important to try to avoid unnecessary sudden braking or accelerating. For example, where itís safe to do so, allow yourself to slow down naturally. Also, if you can roll up to a traffic light as itís turning from red to green, rather than stopping and then starting again, youíll be able to reduce your fuel usage. 

Air conditioning can make car journeys much more comfortable, but it also burns fuel. So, unless you need it, itís best to drive with this turned off. If youíre travelling at low speeds, opening the window may be a more fuel efficient alternative.

Filling up

Think carefully when it comes to filling up your car. There can be big price differences between retailers, so itís wise to shop around to find the best deals on petrol or diesel. You should be able to get the information you need online. One simple way to scour the market is to use price comparison websites. These sites allow you to enter your postcode and specify the number of miles youíre prepared to travel in order to get fuel. They then list the cheapest petrol stations in your area. 

Keep your eyes peeled for loyalty schemes as well. Even if the savings offered by these schemes seem small, they can mount up over time. 

Plan your trips to fuel stations too. If you find yourself running low when youíre on the motorway and youíre forced to fill up at a service station, the chances are youíll end up paying a lot more than you need to. So that you donít get caught short and end up making emergency fuel purchases, itís good to get into the habit of refuelling at least 50 miles before your tank runs dry. This gives you extra leeway to find a cheaper fuel station. 

Donít be tempted to use Ďhigh performanceí fuels unless you know theyíre actually beneficial for your vehicle, for example if you drive a sports car or youíve been advised by an expert that your vehicle will use premium fuel correctly. Many people shell out for these more expensive fuels when it makes very little or no difference to the performance of their cars. 

Last but not least, donít be tempted to overfill your tank. Fuel adds weight to your car, so the more of it you have, the more youíll burn. Because of this, itís best to fill up with smaller amounts on a more regular basis.

If youíre sick of spending a fortune at the pumps, itís well worth paying attention to tips like these. Relatively small changes to your driving and fuel purchasing habits could lead to big savings, especially when you add them up over time.


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