Fuel is the second biggest expense for drivers after insurance and the last year has seen some painful increases in prices at the pumps.
The last month actually saw a drop of around 5p per litre for unleaded and 2.5p for diesel but earlier this year prices reached a four-year high and have remained resolutely high despite recent drops in wholesale costs.
Short of switching to an electric car, we can’t avoid the cost of filling up but there are some steps we can all take to make forecourt visits less regular, potentially saving hundreds of pounds a year.
Warranty Direct recently calculated how much certain actions cost drivers as well as offering tips on how to lessen the costs. Its CEO Simon Ackers commented: “Our tips show there are lots of ways to reduce fuel consumption, both by using new technology and by modifying everyday driving habits.
“If eco-driving becomes the norm, it has potential to drastically decrease emissions, boost road safety and mean less wear and tear on your vehicle.”
Here’s how to save yourself money every day:
1. Consistent cruise – £67.79 saving per year
Tests have shown varying your speed up and down between 75 and 85 km per hour can increase your fuel use by 20 per cent.
Major roads make up 65 per cent of total road traffic in Great Britain and if you factor in the average mileage a year, (5,104 miles) you could save around £67.79 each year, by adapting your driving style.
As you get to know your vehicle, you’ll be able to tell what certain speeds feel and sound like without having to look at the speedometer too much, and you’ll adjust your foot on the pedal more naturally.
But especially when you’re first learning (and don’t have cruise control) you’ll need to glance at the dashboard every so often, to make sure you’re not speeding up or slowing down.
2. Stick to the speed limits – £27.87 saving
Speed limits are maximum, not recommended speeds. You should constantly assess how fast is safe while you are driving and make adjustments accordingly.
Cruising at 70 mph uses up 25 per cent less fuel than 80mph and as UK motorways make up nearly a quarter of all roads, maintaining the correct speed limits could save you up to £27.87 per year in fuel costs.
3. Check your fuel consumption – £79.62 saving
Many drivers could save fuel by acting on the feedback that fuel consumption displays provide. It might seem pretty minor, but being more diligent and following advice from the car’s systems could save you a whopping £79.62 a year.
Even if your car doesn’t have a trip computer you can calculate your economy. If you know the distance you drove and how many litres fill in your tank, you can simply divide the miles by the fuel.
You can do this every time you fill your tank if you want create a long-term record of your fuel usage and gauge how different driving styles or routes affect your usage.
4. Drive in the correct gear – £78.22 saving
To get the best out of your engine when driving in different road, traffic and weather conditions, you need to be able to change to the most appropriate gear at the right time.
The best way to determine when to change gears in a manual car is to listen to the sound of the engine. The more you practice, the more familiar with it you’ll become.
When it sounds like it’s starting to work too hard, it’s time to change up gears. If the engine is starting to struggle and is making a lower sound after you’ve slowed down, then you need to change down gears.
Many modern cars feature shift lights designed to help you chose the most economical gear for the situation.
Correct use of gears can make huge savings on your fuel bill of up to 15 per cent, around £78.22 per year.
5. Check your tyres – £15.64 saving
An under-inflated tyre can increase fuel consumption by 3 per cent. Michelin and Kwik Fit claims four in ten cars have at least one under-inflated tyre, so for 40 per cent of drivers it could save them £15.64 per year.
Tyre manufacturers and road safety organisations recommend drivers perform checks of vehicle tyres at least once a month.
The vehicle handbook, or user manual, will detail the correct air pressures to be used in your car’s size tyres.
Remember, if you are driving the car with a full complement of luggage and people, or intend to carry heavy loads or tow, tyres will need to be inflated to a higher air pressure than they would during normal driving conditions.
6. Streamline – £52.15 saving
A roof rack, even unused, adds wind resistance to a car, increasing drag and making the engine work harder. It can also affect fuel consumption by up to 10 per cent. So, try not to leave your roof rack on your car all year round and only use when necessary and save yourself up to £52.15 per year.
7. Turn off air con at lower speeds – £30.11 saving
At motorway speeds, air con can affect fuel consumption by up to 4 per cent and up to 10 per cent in stop and start traffic. So, leaving your air con on all the time could cost you around £30.11 each year.
8. Don’t ‘warm up’ the engine – £10 minimum saving
When starting on those cold mornings, don’t leave your car running to warm it up. It causes unnecessary engine wear, as well as wasting fuel. Instead invest in some decent de-icer and try to drive off straight away – so long as you can see where you are going.
Leaving your car running will cost between a minimum of £10-15 each year.