Tips for controlling the costs of motoring

This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for some time now, in fact every time I fill up my car and see the depressing amount of money that I’m spending on fuel I get reminded to do it, so here it goes: Tips for controlling the costs of motoring

My initial plan was to give this post the title ‘Driving down the cost of motoring’ with me passing on some great tips that would save your money. Sadly the current state of world oil prices means that these tips aren’t likely to really save you any money but hopefully they’ll steady your ship and ensure you will at least not increase your outlay to the same extend by which the pump prices increase.

So here are ten top tips to reduce the amount of fuel you use when driving…

1. Cut out erratic driving

I’m sure most of you reading this blog aren’t ‘boy racers’ and don’t consider yourselves to be erratic drivers. However even the calmest of drivers is guilty of some unnecessary use of the accelerator at times. By keeping focused on the road ahead and adjusting your driving in accordance with what is approaching you can reduce the amount of fuel you use.

Let’s take an example. If you’re steadily driving at 40mph and are approaching a set of traffic lights that are on red, about 50 metres ahead, there is no need to continue to accelerate. Instead ease off the gas pedal and let the car use its momentum to take you to the lights. This way there is also a fair chance that the lights will have changed by the time you arrive meaning that you won’t have to stop and restart further reducing your fuel consumption that is used when starting out from a stationary position.

This may not seem like something that will make a massive difference but if you introduce this sort of thinking to your driving you will begin to notice a reduction in the amount of fuel you use.

2. Choose the right route

When planning a journey try to choose a route that will give you the best fuel efficiency. This may not be the shortest route and it may not be the fastest route. If it’s a journey that you make regularly and there are various options try each one and record your fuel consumption to find out which is best. As a guide routes that have major roads (national speed limit, dual carriageways and motorways) with less chance of stoppages tend to be the most efficient. Slower winding roads where you need to constantly adjust your speed and stop will generally use more fuel.

3. Stick to the speed limits

Of course you should be doing this anyway but if you stick to the speed limits you will see better consumption levels. It’s often said that the optimum speed for fuel efficiency is 50mph, but this will depend on many factors such as your car, engine, fuel etc. However one thing we can be sure of is that if you start going over 70mph on a motorway you will start to use more fuel.

4. Avoid excess weight

This one’s simple, the more weight your carry the more fuel you use. So don’t cart any unnecessary luggage or items around with you. Like many of these tips the potential savings may seem small but combined they will help you to reduce your fuel consumption.!

5. Cut out the extras

All the little extras that our cars have such as lights, stereos, air-condition, satellite navigation etc use some additional fuel. Therefore it’s good practice to avoid using these whenever possible but not at the expense of safety. Don’t leave your lights switched off when it’s dark and raining but do switch them off in good daylight. Don’t avoid air conditioning if you need it to clear a steamed windscreen but if you just need it to cool yourself down try opening your window for a short time (but don’t forget to close it again as open windows reduce the aerodynamics and increase consumption!).

6. Buy at the right places is a great website for finding out the price of petrol or diesel in your local area. You need to register which is free, and then you will be able to see prices for most major fuel stations within a radius of a given postcode. The data is usually updated 2/3 times per week and is very accurate.

One thing I certainly would not recommend is checking the prices and then driving 15 miles to fill up at a station that is 2p cheaper than your local one, as unless you are filling up a huge tank you won’t save anything. Instead I use it to plan my week and when I will fill up. I know that the Tesco store on the way to my parents’ house has the cheapest fuel in the area so I always try to plan my usage around when I can fill up there.

7. Get the supermarket vouchers

Many supermarkets, most notably Tesco, offer vouchers that offer a discount off each litre of fuel when you spend a certain amount in the store. With Tesco it’s usually 5p off per litre if you spend £50 in the store.

When I have one of these vouchers I always try to fill the tank right up in order to take advantage of the maximum saving.

8. Don’t fill right up

Try to avoid filling your tank right up (unless you have a voucher – as above). For every extra litre of fuel that you add approx. 0.7kg of weight to your car, extra weight uses more fuel therefore costing you more.

If it’s convenient I would recommend filling up by just half a tank at a time. However with fuel prices raising so sharply this may not be the most useful tip as by the time you go to add another half a tank the price may have increased outweighing any saving made through weight reduction, but it’s still worth considering if prices begin to steady out (fingers crossed!)

9. Keep your car in shape

Regular services might not be cheap but if you keep your car in good condition it will perform more efficiently. You can also carry out some regular checks and maintenance yourself that will ensure maximum efficiency. Having the correct tyre pressure and having balanced wheels will improve your fuel efficiency and I even read recently that cleaner cars are more aerodynamic thus use less fuel!

10. Cut out short journeys

OK this isn’t going to reduce the amount of fuel you use when you drive but if you cut down on the amount of driving you do you will definitely save fuel! Avoid driving to the shop that are less than a mile away and walk or cycle instead, the added bonus of this is that you’ll get some extra exercise at the same time!