We often like to complain about the current price of fuel - it’s always too expensive! Even if you’re only using your car for an occasional trip, rather than the daily commute, everyone would prefer to pay less for petrol and diesel. Unfortunately, we can’t control the rising cost of fuel. But there are still ways to save fuel, and thereby save money.
The obvious thing to do is to drive slower, right? Technically, driving at high speeds will use more fuel - driving at 70 miles per hour uses 30% more fuel than driving at 50 miles per hour. But this isn’t a general rule. Keeping your speed at 30 miles per hour won’t make your vehicle more fuel efficient. And anyone that has been stuck in stop-start traffic can attest that crawling at a few miles per hour isn’t a great fuel saving tactic.
In these scenarios, it’s more about MPG - miles per gallon. If you have a more modern car, you might be able to see this figure on your dashboard, but the optimum MPG for your vehicle will also be in your user handbook. The idea is to experiment with different fuel saving methods until you get the highest MPG. So what are these techniques? We’ve listed five easy ways to save fuel below!
1. Shop Around
Just like driving at sensible speeds, shopping around for the best petrol or diesel prices may seem obvious. But you may be surprised by how many people use the same fuel station just because it’s conveniently located, such as on the way back from work. If your fuel light has come on, then the closest station is understandable, but most of the time, it’s a good idea to compare fuel prices.
Generally speaking, supermarket fuel stations offer the cheapest fuel, though some independent stations also offer low rates. Ask your friends and colleagues where they get their fuel, and see if you’re able to save money. Just driving a few extra miles could save you a few pence per litre, so it’s well worth doing.
2. Turn Off Your Engine
When we say turn off your engine, we don’t mean never turn your car on, though that would certainly save you a lot of fuel! But there are times when you don’t need to keep your engine running, and just don’t think about it. For instance, when you’re sitting in traffic, or idling outside a friend’s house, waiting for them to come out, turning off the engine will help reduce fuel costs. And while it can be tempting to run your engine to heat up your car in winter, that’s a quick way to waste fuel!
Some modern cars have a feature known as ‘city mode’, which automatically switches off your engine if you’re sitting still for a little while. The first time it happens, you might panic a little, but you soon get used to it! City mode is a fantastic fuel saving method, so if you’re thinking about buying a new car, or changing your PCP agreement, this is a feature to look out for.
3. Clear Out the Boot
More weight in the car means higher fuel usage. So if you keep a lot of unnecessary things in the boot of your vehicle, taking those out can be the quickest way to see a better fuel consumption rate. Try clearing out your car at the weekend, and see whether you’re spending less on fuel over the next week. It really can make a big difference!
And if you have heavy things attached to the outside of your car, like bike racks and roof boxes, these can easily be removed to cut down your fuel costs. It’s unlikely that you’re using them on every journey, so don’t keep them there if you don’t need to.
4. Turn Off the Air Conditioning
Another simple way to reduce your diesel or petrol costs is to use less air conditioning. You may not realise that your air conditioning uses fuel, but the compressor that the unit runs on is powered using it. In fact, research has shown that if you regularly use your air conditioning to control the climate of your car, you may be increasing your fuel consumption by between 8% and 10%.
This can really add up! If it costs you around £50 to fill up your tank, £5 of that could be going towards your air conditioning! So if you’re too hot, perhaps try opening your windows instead, or if you’re cold, put on a few more layers.
5. Take Care of Your Car
Chances are, you probably do this already. You may realise that a smoother running car uses less fuel, particularly when it comes to tyre pressure. It’s recommended that you check your tyre pressure at least once a month, though every few weeks isn’t a bad idea if you use your vehicle daily. Tyres can lose a few pounds of air every month, so can quickly become under-inflated. This leads to increased rolling resistance with the road, giving you fewer miles to the gallon.
If you’re not sure how high your tyre pressure should be, you can check this information in your vehicle handbook. A lot of fuel stations have air pump facilities where you can inflate your tyres, or you can visit car servicing centres like Kwik Fit or Halfords.