Fuel is one of the biggest expenses motorists have to contend with. But did you know there are lots of things you can do to save money on fuel costs? Something we’re going to tell you all about in this ultimate guide.
It focuses on what you can do to your car (or any vehicle) to make the most of every litre, highlights how you can change the way you drive to save money on fuel, and looks at some additional things you may want to introduce to cut your fuel costs.
What to do to your car to save money on fuel
Optimise engine performance
Having an engine that’s well-tuned and performing to its full potential is critical to improving fuel economy. So always follow your car manufacturer’s recommendations on how best to service your vehicle’s engine.
Remove extra weight
Review what’s in the boot of your car, in your van or inside your cab or on your lorry. The RAC says that, on average, every extra 50kg will increase your fuel consumption by 2%. A small percentage that really adds up over a year.
Only buy the fuel you need
Only topping up your tank with what you need for the short term, rather than driving around with a full tank, will help your fuel go slightly further. Although this may seem like a nuisance, think about how much weight you’re carrying around when you’ve got 100 litres of fuel in your tank.
Be as aerodynamic as possible
Car designers earn a lot of money trying to make a car’s body as aerodynamic as possible. That’s because drag can have a big impact on fuel consumption. So make the most of their hard work, and save yourself some money, by not opening your windows or sunroof or leaving roof bars and boxes on your vehicle.
Spend a bit of extra cash on good tyres
Do good tyres save money on fuel? Absolutely. Research conducted by the independent organisation Which?1 reveals that a good quality ‘energy saver’ tyre improves fuel economy by around 2.4mpg in comparison with the worst tyre for rolling resistance. An investment that could cut your yearly fuel bill by £50 or even more, lower your CO2 emissions and reduce the number of times you need to replace your tyres.
Inflate your tyres correctly
Did you know that if your tyres are under inflated by 15psi you could use, on average, 6% more fuel?2 So always make sure your tyres are inflated correctly, because this small act can save you money on fuel and make your tyres less susceptible to failure.
How to change the way you drive to save money on fuel
Idling (running a vehicle when it’s not moving) is bad for the environment and can be an expensive thing to do, and especially for fleets of large trucks. For example, US research3 reveals that when an average car with no load idles it uses 0.16 gallons (0.6 litres) of non-diesel fuel per hour; while a heavy-duty truck can use 0.8 gallons (3 litres) of fuel per hour when idling. Over a year, this may result in a cost of around $4,000 (£3,275) in idle fuel waste for just one truck.
Use your engine stop/start
If your vehicle has an engine stop/start system, make sure you make the most of it to save yourself some money. This type of system is a handy alternative to switching your engine off and on again and a much better choice than keeping your car running if you stop at some traffic lights.
Drive steady and slower
High and inconsistent speeds can have a negative impact on your fuel efficiency, especially because driving faster will increase wind resistance on your vehicle. That’s why it’s smarter to travel at lower and regular speeds as much as possible, and to avoid hard braking.
Drive in a higher gear
Whenever it’s possible and safe to do so, change up a gear without labouring your engine or redlining your rev counter. Driving in a higher gear means you lower your engine speed, which in turn can improve fuel efficiency.
Drive gently when your car is cold
A cold car is a low-efficiency car. So if you drive quickly after starting up your car you are going to double up on wasted fuel and wear out your engine quicker. That’s why it’s important to initially take it easy on your car after you fire it up.
Don’t drain your battery
Anything that puts a drain on your battery will impact on your fuel economy. Therefore, use air conditioning as little as possible, as excessive use can add up to 10% on fuel usage.4 Also remember to turn off heated seats and steering wheels when you don’t need them anymore. Plus, it’s also a good idea to make sure your battery is in good nick, as a battery in poor condition can start to increase fuel costs too.
Avoid the rush hour
Driving in traffic that is always stopping and starting can have a negative impact on your vehicle’s fuel economy. So if possible, ensure you and your drivers avoid the rush hour.
Plan your trip in advance
Before heading out in your car, van or lorry, plan when you will need to refuel and where you can do this. This should prevent the need to buy expensive fuel on motorways and result in you purchasing cheaper fuel at local petrol stations and supermarkets.
Make small driving adjustments
Many drivers form lifelong bad habits which increase their fuel costs throughout their time on the road. But it’s definitely not too late to reprogram yourself and start to save money. For example, slow down early to let traffic lights change, rather than stopping completely; speed up a little before you reach the foot of a hill; and leave a sensible distance between you and the car in front so you can brake evenly.
Take an advanced driving course
All the above points should help to improve your driving style so you save money on your fuel costs. But if you want to take this to the next level, it may well be worth you going on an advanced driving course. This will help you to drive more safely, more effectively and in a more economical way.
Additional things you can do to save money on fuel
Find out how much you really spend on fuel
This is a pretty obvious one, but there’ll be plenty of people out there who don’t do it. So just to emphasise, it’s vital you know how much your vehicle or fleet is costing you to run each week, month or year before you start to look to save money. That’s because this will give you an overall figure you’ll want to beat as you begin to introduce new ways of driving.
Install a telematics system
The proverb goes “Knowledge is power”, which is definitely the case when looking to reduce fuel costs. That’s why installing a telematics system is definitely a good investment if you run a fleet of vehicles.
Telematics combines a GPS system with on-board diagnostics so you can:
- Assess the miles per gallon / litre performance of all the vehicles in your fleet.
- Identify the best routes for your vehicles so less is fuel used.
- Monitor poor driver behaviour, such as fuel inefficiency.
Use a fuel card
Choosing a fixed weekly price (FWP) fuel card or pump price (PP) fuel card for you and your drivers is an easy way to save money on fuel costs. That’s because they deliver the following benefits:
- A fixed weekly price for fuel that is closely linked to the wholesale fuel market, helping you to save money. (FWP only)
- Transparent pricing because you’ll always pay the price at the pump. (PP only)
- No interest charges applied to fuel purchases, and no non-usage fees too. (FWP and PP)
- A reduction in admin costs, because invoices and VAT are much easier to manage. (FWP and PP)
- You’re far less likely to be affected by fuel fraud, because every transaction is tracked and your company is billed directly. (FWP and PP)
Find out more at rightfuelcard.co.uk/fuel-card
Take advantage of money-off vouchers
Supermarkets often compete against each other by occasionally releasing vouchers that give you money off fuel purchases. Keep an eye out for those and save yourself some cash.
Use the fuel recommended to you
Always check the manual for your car, van or lorry to find out what type of fuel your vehicle’s manufacturer recommends for you to use. By sticking to this advice, your vehicle should perform well and you should avoid paying for expensive fuel that you may not need.
1. Source: Which.co.uk
2. Source: Tyrepal.com
3. Source: Verizonconnect.com
4. Source: Express.co.uk