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Car money saving tips – 8 tips to reduce your fuel consumption.

Person pumping fuel into a car

This post was originally published 25 March 2022 and was updated 13 Feb 2024

When fuel prices fluctuate it can often leave motorists feeling concerned about the cost of filling up their vehicle, and rightly so. But the fluctuation of prices needn’t be daunting.  

What is meant by fuel consumption?

Fuel consumption is the rate at which an engine uses fuel. In the UK we measure a car’s fuel economy in miles per gallon (MPG). If your car does 50MPG, it will cover 50 miles on one gallon of fuel. The higher the MPG, the more economical the car and the less you’ll spend on fuel.  

How do I work out my fuel consumption?

To work out your cars miles per gallon you need start with a full fuel tank to know exactly how much fuel your car has consumed. For example, if you drove 400 miles before refuelling your car and you filled your car up with 12 gallons of fuel, your fuel consumption was 33.3 miles per gallon, or mpg (400 miles / 12 gallons = 33.3 mpg). Bear in mind this is an approximate, as you may be stopped in traffic, idling or travelling at speed on the motorway so it may be worth checking this a couple of times to get a better understanding of how many mpg your vehicle is doing. 

Alternatively, your average mile per gallon should be displayed on your car’s dashboard. This is usually displayed near the part that tells you how much fuel you have left. The instructions on how to find this should be in your manufacturer’s manual. 

Alternatively, your average mile per gallon should be displayed on your car’s dashboard. This is usually displayed near the part that tells you how much fuel you have left. The instructions on how to find this should be in your manufacturer’s manual.

How much is my fuel consumption really costing me?

FleetNews have produced a handy fuel cost calculator where you simply enter your car make and model and the information is provided. Work out your fuel consumption with FleetNews Fuel cost Calculator 

How do I reduce my fuel consumption?

By just making some small changes to the way you drive your vehicle can make a massive difference to your fuel consumption and may even make you a “Hypermiling expert”. Hypermiling is essentially a fancy way of saying that you drive in a fuel-efficient manner. It involves everything from choosing cheaper petrol, consistently keeping tyre pressure at the optimum level, and driving smoothly.

Here’s are some handy tips on how to save fuel and ultimately save your hard-earned money: 

  • Maintain your Vehicle 
  • Check Your Tyre Pressure 
  • Choose a green eco tyre  
  • Don’t accelerate or brake too quickly 
  • Use your gears. 
  • Monitor your speed / maintain a constant speed 
  • Use cruise control  
  • Avoid using your Air Con 
  • Ditch the extra weight  
  • Plan your Route. 
  • Don’t Make short trips (if you don’t need to) 
  • Change your car 
  • Check fuel prices 
  • Use fuel loyalty schemes 
  • Only fill up when you need to  

Maintain your vehicle

Does driving slowly reduce fuel consumption? Driving at a high speed is the most obvious drain on your fuel so it’s always a good idea to minimise the effect this will have by being gentle when you set off. Although it’s only a small thing, resisting the urge to speed away will have a big impact on how fast your fuel drains. You must always aim to stay under the speed limit.

Filling up engine oil using funnel

Maintaining your car is key to improving fuel consumption and ensuring that there are not mechanical or electrical issues. Here’s a quick guide to how you should maintain your car; 

The Engine 

Check Engine Oil Regularly: Your engine oil is crucial because it lubricates the engine, helps control its temperature, and keeps it running efficiently. You should check your engine oil every two weeks to avoid engine problems or breakdowns. 

No Dipstick? Check the dashboard: Some modern cars don’t have a dipstick. Instead, they use an automatic oil monitor. You’ll usually find this information on your car’s dashboard. If you’re not sure how to check this, look in your car’s manual for instructions. 

Remember, keeping the right oil level is key to a healthy engine. If you’re ever unsure, consult your car’s manual or ask a professional. 

Changing Oil and Air filters 

Fuel filter

To keep your car’s engine in good shape, it’s not just about checking the oil level. You also need to change the oil and filters regularly. A good rule is to change the oil about every 3 months or every 3,000 miles. Doing this helps keep your engine clean, protects its parts, and makes sure it runs well. 

Usually, when you take your car for a service, they’ll change the oil and filters. So, if you’re planning to store your car for a while or just want it to run smoothly, make an appointment with a mechanic to get this done. 

Check your tyre pressure!

Woman Inflating Car Tyre With Electric Pump On Country Road

Your car works best when the tyres have the right amount of air. If they don’t, your car must work harder to move. Keep your tyres at the right pressure to make them last longer and save fuel. You can find the right pressure in the manual or on a sticker inside the driver’s door.  

To check the pressure, remove the cap from the valve stem on the tyre, press a tyre gauge firmly onto the valve, and read the pressure. If the pressure is too low, you’ll need to add air. Most petrol stations have air pumps where you can fill your tyres. Adjust the pressure until it matches the recommended manufacturer level. Remember, proper tyre pressure ensures optimal performance, better fuel consumption and above all safer driving. 

Choose a green eco tyre

Close up of car wheel on a road in very bad condition with big potholes full of dirty rain water pools.

Green / Eco tyres are not just good for the environment, but they can also help save you money over time. Here’s why they’re a great choice: 

  • Saves Fuel: These tyres are made to lower rolling resistance (rolling resistance refers to the resistance experienced by your car tyre as it rolls over a surface. The higher the rolling resistance the more fuel is needed), which means your car won’t need as much fuel. You’ll save money on fuel and help reduce emissions. 
  • Safer Driving: Green tyres often offer better grip and handling compared to some standard tyres, making your drive safer. 
  • Quieter Ride: These tyres are designed to make less noise, so your rides are quieter and more peaceful. 
  • Lasts Longer: Green tyres tend to wear out less quickly than regular tyres, so you won’t need to replace them as often. 
  • Eco-Friendly: Made from natural or recycled materials, green tyres are more biodegradable, making them a better choice for the planet. 

Don’t accelerate or brake too quickly

The more quickly you speed up, the more fuel your car uses. The website states that driving aggressively, like speeding up or braking hard, can increase your fuel usage by up to 60% [1]. In everyday driving, it’s better to shift down gears instead of hitting the brakes hard. This helps save fuel and makes your trip more efficient in terms of fuel use. 

Use your gears.

Female driver putting automatic car into gear

Using your gears wisely can help save fuel and make your driving more efficient. The key is to shift up to a higher gear as soon as possible without making the engine struggle. Driving at lower RPMs in higher gears reduces fuel consumption. Aim to shift up before the engine revs too high. Also, when slowing down, instead of immediately braking, let the car naturally decelerate in gear. This method uses less fuel than braking while in a lower gear. Remember, smooth, and steady gear changes, along with anticipating road conditions, can significantly improve your fuel efficiency. 

Monitor your speed / maintain a constant speed

Maintaining a steady speed is one of the most effective ways to improve your car’s fuel consumption. When you drive at a constant pace, especially at moderate speeds, your engine works more efficiently, using less fuel. Frequent speed changes, such as constant acceleration and braking, make the engine work harder, leading to more fuel being used.  

Use cruise control

Using cruise control on motorways can help maintain a consistent speed and reduce fuel consumption. By avoiding rapid acceleration and sudden stops, and by keeping a smooth, even pace, you can significantly reduce the amount of fuel your car uses, making your drives more fuel-efficient and cost-effective.  

Avoid using your Air Con

Research suggests that by using your air conditioning in your vehicle, you can increase your fuel consumption by around 8-10%. 

Avoiding the use of air conditioning in your car can lead to noticeable fuel savings. The air conditioning system draws power from the engine, which increases the engine’s workload and, consequently, its fuel consumption. When the A/C is on, especially at lower speeds, the engine must work harder to compensate for the extra load, leading to more fuel being burned.  

By turning off the air conditioning and opting for natural ventilation, such as opening windows at lower speeds, you can reduce this extra demand on the engine. However, at higher speeds, open windows can create aerodynamic drag, which might counteract the savings, so it’s a balance. 

Ditch the extra weight – remove any roof racks or bike racks if you don’t need them.

Roof racks, boxes, open windows, and sunroofs can all make your car use more fuel. This is because they affect the car’s aerodynamics, making the engine work harder. It’s a good idea to pack your car carefully and take off roof racks and boxes when you’re not using them. Driving with a roof box can make your car use up to 25% more fuel.  

When you’re driving a long distance, like 100 miles, having a roof box or even an empty roof rack can cost you an extra £3.15 because they can increase fuel use by up to 15%.[2] 

Plan your Route.

Planning your travel route in advance can significantly help in saving fuel. By choosing the most direct and efficient routes, you can avoid unnecessary detours and reduce the overall distance traveled.  

It’s also helpful to consider traffic conditions; routes with less traffic congestion allow for smoother driving with fewer stops and starts, which in turn conserves fuel. Utilizing navigation apps or GPS systems can aid in identifying the shortest or fastest routes and provide real-time traffic updates, enabling you to avoid roadworks or heavy traffic areas. Planning your trips during off-peak hours can also lead to less stop-and-go traffic, further enhancing fuel efficiency.

Don’t Make short trips (if you don’t need to). Combine any short journeys you may need to take.

Saving fuel can be easy if you plan your car trips better. When your car’s engine is cold and you start it, it uses more fuel than when it’s already warm. So, instead of going on several short trips, try to do all your errands in one go. For example, rather than driving to the supermarket, then the post office, and school at different times, make one trip that covers all these places. This way, you start your engine less often when it’s cold, saving fuel. Plus, it’s easier on your car’s engine and saves you time. This smart way of linking your trips together helps both your wallet and the environment.

 Change your car

Handing car key over to new owner

Getting a car that uses fuel more efficiently can really help you save on fuel and cut down on your driving expenses. Newer cars are built to use less fuel. They have things like hybrid technology, better engines, and are made of lighter materials. If you pick a car that goes further on a gallon of fuel, you’ll end up using less fuel over time. This is especially good if you drive a lot or go on long trips. Smaller cars or electric vehicles use even less fuel and are better for the environment. So, choosing a car that’s good with fuel not only saves you money but also helps the planet by reducing pollution. 

Check fuel prices

Fuel pump at fuel station

Saving money on fuel can be as simple as keeping an eye on fuel prices. Prices can vary significantly between different petrol stations, even within the same area. By comparing prices, either by using a dedicated app such as PetrolPrices or Cheap Fuel UK, or by paying attention to the signs while driving, you can often find cheaper options.  

Some supermarkets or membership clubs also offer fuel discounts, which can lead to further savings. Regularly choosing the most cost-effective place to fill up can add up to considerable savings over time, making this a simple yet effective way to reduce your driving costs.

Use fuel loyalty schemes

Using fuel loyalty schemes is a smart way to save money on your fuel expenses. Many petrol stations offer loyalty programs where you can earn points every time you fill up. These points can usually be redeemed for discounts on future fuel purchases or other products and services. Some schemes are linked to supermarkets or credit cards, offering additional ways to accumulate rewards. 

By regularly using the same service stations and taking advantage of these loyalty programs, you can significantly reduce the overall cost of fuel over time. It’s a simple and effective method for frequent drivers to get more value out of their regular purchases.  To find out more read the Warrantywise guide to saving money on fuel while shopping.

Only fill up when you need to.

If you drive mostly in cities, try filling your petrol tank only halfway. But if you’re in rural areas, go ahead and fill it up all the way. Driving with less fuel in the tank makes your car lighter, which can help save fuel. 

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