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How to cut your fuel costs

  • How to drive economically and save money
  • Our guide helps you lower the cost of motoring
  • Top tips to help you cut your escalating fuel bills

As petrol prices have hit record highs, with no sign of dropping, driving economically is more important than ever. It has the capacity not only to save you money but to help the environment at the same time.

The following guide contains tips and advice to help you cut down on the cost of motoring. If you follow it closely you should see at least a 10% decrease in your fuel bills. 

So, in order to help you save cash by boosting your economy, follow these top tips on how to save fuel:

1. Simple car maintenance is important for all cars and vital to economical driving.

• Keep your car well maintained. Regular servicing will mean the car remains as efficient as when you bought it, but neglect this and you'll find you're using a lot more fuel. You can get your local garage or dealership to do the work for you as and when the car needs it - or even have a go yourself if you want to save more money.

• Always make sure you're using the correct engine oil for your car. In your manufacturer's handbook it will state which oil is best for your car. Using different oils can mean a drop in efficiency or even damage to your engine.

• Check your tyre pressures regularly. They should be checked weekly and always before embarking on long journeys. Under-inflated tyres will have an impact on economy - tyre manufacturer Goodyear claims that if your tyres are 20% under-inflated, you'll use 10% more fuel.

2. Preparing your car for each journey will greatly reduce how much fuel you use.

• Always make sure your car only contains the things you'll need for the journey you're doing. Extra weight means the engine will have to work harder, so you'll use more fuel.

• Ensuring your car is as streamlined as possible will also help, so ditch the roof rack or roof box unless you're using it - and keep the windows closed when possible.

3. Planning your trip in advance is a great way to cut down on mileage. If you get lost, you'll use more fuel.

• Try to visit several places in one long journey, rather than taking short trips for each of them individually. When your car is cold it uses more fuel, so making several visits at once will help save cash.

• Plan your route before you leave to avoid getting lost. If you've never done the journey before it helps to look at a map before you set off, and make sure you check the traffic news for any major problems.

• Try to avoid routes that may take you into city centres or through heavily congested areas. Repeated stop-starts and driving in traffic uses much more fuel than just cruising on motorways.

4. Adjusting your driving technique is by far the most effective way to save fuel. By making a few small changes to how you approach your journey will soon pay dividends.  

• Use high gears. Select the highest gear you can without making the car struggle, for example driving around town in 4th instead of 3rd. To save more fuel, attempt to change gear as early as possible and try not to exceed 3000rpm under normal driving conditions.

• Control your right foot. When using the accelerator make very small adjustments to regulate your speed. The more you push the pedal, the more fuel you'll use. Bear in mind that full throttle should never be used when you're trying to save fuel.

• Plan ahead. Try to anticipate the road ahead and use both gravity and traffic to your advantage. If you're about to go over the crest of a hill, back off the throttle until you're going downhill again. With gravity helping you, less use of the accelerator will be necessary to keep your speed up. Try to leave big gaps between you and the car in front in order to keep rolling. Stopping and starting constantly will use more fuel than keeping the car moving.

• Avoid using your brakes unnecessarily. Rolling up to a junction will be much more fuel-efficient than driving normally and then slamming on the brakes.

• Slow down. When on motorways, less speed is better. Although the national speed limit is 70mph, cruising at 60mph or even 50mph will save more fuel.

• Don't idle your engine. When in traffic for extended periods it's a good idea to switch the engine off to avoid using fuel unnecessarily, especially if you're not going to be moving for a while. Many new cars now come with with stop/start and do this for you.

• Open windows. In hot weather try opening windows instead of using air conditioning. Both methods of keeping cool use more fuel, but having the windows open is much more efficient than using power-sapping air conditioning.

• Coasting is wrong. Coasting - letting the car roll in neutral rather than being in gear - means you're not totally in control of your vehicle and the engine will still use fuel. If you leave the car in gear when decelerating then you'll use no fuel and can make use of engine braking - which also takes some of the stress off the brakes.

• Turn off any unnecessary electronics. Many electronic features on your car use engine power and can increase fuel costs. Turn off items like heated windscreens, de-misters and headlights when you don't need them.

Parkers Top Tip;

If you're thinking about changing your car to a more economical one, use our Cost of Motoring tool to see what savings you could stand to make.