After the finance payments for the car, the next biggest expense is always fuel. Fuel prices have been rising steadily over recent decades as part of government campaigns to get us out of our cars and onto public transport. Many drivers simply shrug their shoulders and accept rising fuel prices as an unavoidable cost of motoring. That’s partly true in that you’re not going to go far without petrol or diesel in the tank. However, there it lots you can do to keep the cost of fuel to a minimum.
There is a link between how well your car is maintained and how much fuel you use. Check tyre pressures regularly – if your tyres are underinflated then this will have an adverse effect on your fuel consumption. Similarly, keep track of when your car is due to be serviced and have its MOT check. If the mechanic notices a fault during servicing, get it fixed right away rather than hoping the problem will fix itself. Check that you are using the right type of oil in the engine too. Scrimping on servicing is often a false economy as repairs will often cost a lot more in the long run. And if you’re tempted to drive on the road without a valid MOT certificate, you could end up with a huge fine too.
You don’t need to be an engineering expert to understand that the more streamlined your car is, the easier it is for the engine to pull it along the road. Keep your windows closed when driving, and don’t leave roof racks or boxes on top of the car when you’re not using them. Taking your roof box off the car can save as much as 20% on your fuel bills over the course of a year. Don’t carry around a boot full of gear which you don’t need either. Leave the junk at home, and the reduced weight of the car will also reduce your petrol bill.
Fuel economy is better at lower speeds, and you can greatly reduce the amount you’re spending on fuel by dropping your average speed from 80 miles per hour on the motorway to 70. According to motoring organisation the AA, this could save 25% on your fuel and will also have the side effect of eliminating the risk of a speeding ticket. If you do most of your driving on rural roads, the same theory applies. Think also about your driving style. The most economic way of driving is to go smoothly and steadily, without harsh braking and acceleration. Look ahead down the road, and try to predict when you’re going to need to speed up or slow down without leaving it to the last minute to react. Manuals use less fuel than automatic vehicles too. It’s probably not worth making the switch just to save in the short term, but it’s definitely something to consider when you’re in the market for an upgrade.
The idea of collecting points for every pound you spend on petrol is nothing new. All large retailers have their own scheme which rewards you for your loyalty. There’s nothing stopping you signing up for all of the offers from every local retailer, although obviously you’ll get maximum impact by spending with the same company on a regular basis. Supermarkets often run regular promotions offering you money off every litre of fuel when you spend a certain amount in store, and this can also be worthwhile if you’d be buying groceries in the store anyway. Look also for credit cards which give you points on spend, or will offer special promotions on fuel.