How to save money on fuel

Person filling up car with fuel

If the rising price of petrol is making you feel like you might spontaneously combust, here are some fuel-saving hacks to ease the pressure at the pump.

By Steve Smethurst

Shop around

It’s always more convenient to fill up at the petrol station you pass on the way home, but do you check out the price? It’s getting more important to glance at the digital display of prices at all your local filling stations as you whizz by. Make a mental screenshot as you drive around to see which is the cheapest. Bear in mind supermarkets can be competitive on price and may fill up your points card too. Also, refuelling at a motorway service station may be ok for hungry bellies but tend to be expensive for thirsty engines.

Tyre pressure

Under-inflated tyres create more resistance when your car is moving, which means you use more fuel as your engine has to work harder. Checking and adjusting your tyre pressure regularly can help reduce fuel consumption and could help save you money.Footnote [1]

Lighten the load

Your car isn't a four-wheeled cupboard so try not to dump too much stuff in it. The heavier your vehicle the more fuel is needed to get it moving. Give the car a declutter if needed and keep only the important stuff in it like the hydraulic jack, early warning devices, and any tools you might need in an emergency.Footnote [2]

Don’t be a drag

If you have a roof rack, roof bars, a bike rack or a luggage box on the roof, consider removing it when not in use. These add greatly to fuel consumption at speed as they increase drag and therefore wind resistance. So, the faster you drive the bigger the drag and the weight on your wallet.Footnote [1]

Pay by credit card

This approach won’t be for everyone, but some credit card companies may offer cashback for spending money at filling stations. It’s an indirect way of saving, but it could be worth it if you’re able to pay off what you owe each month, otherwise any savings will be cancelled out by the interest.

Don’t idle

New cars tend to switch off the engine every time you stop. If you have a vehicle that doesn’t, you’ll save fuel by turning off the engine when you’re stopped for a while. It’s also worth remembering that stationary idling is an offence under Section 42 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.Footnote [1]

Do all your errands in one trip 

Once a car’s engine is warm it will run at its most fuel-efficient, whereas the more you press the start button or turn the key to tick off tasks on your to-do list, the more fuel you’ll use even though the total mileage could be the same.

Change your driving style

If you hit high speeds before your engine is warm, this will waste fuel. Also, the faster an engine spins, the more fuel it uses, so shift to higher gears as soon as possible. And avoid slamming your foot on the accelerator and brake for same reason.

Driving smoothly key in EVs

At high speeds, fuel consumption increases – this is particularly so for electric vehicles (EVs). keeping momentum is key to efficient EV driving. So take it easy on the accelerator and brake pedals.Footnote [3]

Rethink your plans

Think about whether you really need to drive. You might be able to car share, take public transport or get shopping delivered. This might not be the best option for every journey, but it could make a difference.

Finally, don’t forget about insurance

Fuel economy is a great way to save money on your motor, but it's not the only way. If you’ve got more than one car in the household it may be cheaper to consider a multi-car policy than a policy for each car. You should also make sure your policy is based on the amount of miles you drive – especially if you’re cutting back.

It’s also important to check what your cover includes – most policies have optional extras that you can add at an extra cost. Consider whether you're paying for things you may not need.

And as some insurers provide discounts if a car is parked off the road, you could save money by parking your car overnight on your driveway or in your garage if you have one.

Most car insurance policies have a standard excess if you make a claim. You could lower your premium by choosing a higher excess although, obviously, this could be a false economy as if you have an accident, you're likely to end up paying more.

Choose the level of cover that's right for you here.

Already have Aviva car insurance? Tap into MyAviva to view or make changes to your cover.

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