How to cut your petrol or diesel car fuel costs

Old style petrol pump

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Over the past 10 years petrol and diesel prices have almost doubled - rising well above inflation.

According to the AA, some drivers have had to pawn possessions to pay for car fuel.

Here are some simple steps to cut the costs of motoring.

1. Know your motor

Start Quote

To improve fuel consumption by up to 2%, check your tyre pressures regularly”

End Quote The RAC

Before you start taking fuel-saving measures it's worth finding out exactly what your consumption and costs are right now.

Your car is likely to be less economical than the manufacturers claim.

There are various apps or websites that can help you get a more accurate picture.

As a basic way of working out your costs fill your tank to the top and zero your trip meter.

On your next visit to the fuel station, fill up again and divide the total cost by the mileage you've clocked up to get your cost per mile.

2. Get it cheaper

Check out websites like PetrolPrices.com or Whatgas.com to compare fuel prices in your area.

The prices can vary as much as 20 pence per litre between the cheapest and most expensive. If you fill your tank every fortnight that's a difference of about £360 a year.

It's also worth keeping up to date with current fuel offers.

3. Lighten the load

Anything that's weighing your car down is costing you unnecessary fuel.

You don't need to get rid of the car's spare tyre but it's worth clearing out anything unnecessary from your boot.

If you have a roof rack take it off to reduce weight and unnecessary drag.

4. Drive for consumption... not for speed

Do fuel additives help?

Refuelling

Consumer group Which? tested various fuel additives to see if they improved fuel economy, power or emissions.

Their conclusion was that generally fuel additives were not worth the cost

The way you drive can have a considerable impact on how much fuel you use.

The AA recommends:

  • Driving smoothly, accelerating gently and reading the road ahead to avoid unnecessary braking.
  • Decelerating gently by releasing the accelerator and leaving the car in gear.
  • Avoiding bringing the car to a stop whenever possible. Starting from a halt uses more fuel.
  • Changing gear earlier so the engine isn't laboured. The AA recommends changing up at an engine speed of around 2,000 rpm in a diesel car or around 2,500 rpm in a petrol car.
  • Taking your time. Driving at 60mph instead of 70mph uses 9% less fuel.
  • Switching the engine off if you're stuck in traffic and could be waiting more than three minutes.

There are various driving courses available that can teach you to become a more economical driver.

5. Maintain your motor

The RAC says keeping your car well serviced and maintained will make it more fuel efficient.

"Over time, your car tyres will naturally leak a bit of air." says the motoring association.

"To improve fuel consumption by up to 2%, check your tyre pressures regularly and keep them pumped up to the correct pressure."

6. Turn it off

Air conditioning uses fuel so only switch it on when needed.

7. Plan ahead

Wherever possible, plan your journey to find the shortest route and to avoid heavy traffic.

Remember, getting lost and covering extra miles will cause you unnecessary expense so get your maps, directions or satellite navigation in order.

If you are running errands, try to get as much done as possible. A cold engine uses up more fuel than a warm one so a long, multi-purpose trip is more efficient.

8. Car share

If you have any friends or colleagues making the same journeys it's worth sharing a car and splitting fuel costs.

If you don't know anyone, websites like carpooling.co.uk, Liftshare.com or BlaBlaCar can help. You can either offer spaces in your car or get a lift with someone else.

It works especially well for longer journeys. As an example, taking 3 passengers from London to Newcastle could earn you over £70.

If you do use a car sharing website make sure you take relevant precautions.

How the Boult family cut their fuel costs

The Boult Family

The Boult family have been making efforts to cut their fuel costs for the past few years.

In 2011, mum Heather and dad Martin took an eco-driving course. They ended up saving 54% on their fuel bill - about £619 a year.

According to Heather the family cleared out the car boot and changed their driving habits.

"I used to pull up at traffic lights and think they would go green in a little while, and leave my feet on the clutch and accelerator," says Heather.

"But now I put it into neutral, put the handbrake on and take my feet off the accelerator, which can save about £10-20 a week."

These days the family also travel more by bus or bike.

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