Petrol and diesel prices are soaring all over the world. Here in the UK, we already pay a lot to run our cars; costs are the 13th highest in Europe. With worries that 2022 might see petrol hit £2 per litre, drivers are looking for tips to save fuel and cut down on driving expenses.
10 fuel saving tips for UK drivers
It’s easy to save on fuel costs by making a few simple adjustments to the way you drive…
1. Take it easy on the accelerator
Driving erratically or aggressively like a boy racer can can your car to consume 60% more fuel. If you can, the ideal speed to aim for is a steady 50mph in the highest gear. Pull away from lights smoothly and don’t overtake unnecessarily.
Even if you’re in a high gear at a reasonable speed, pushing the accelerator down a long way to avoid changing into a lower gear (into second from third, for instance) uses more fuel, not less. Go easy on the accelerator wherever possible.
2. Plan your trips for efficiency
Planning ahead can help optimise fuel usage. A cold engine uses much more fuel for the first five miles so, ideally, you'd combine all your daily errands into one big trip. Of course, that may not be possible with daily journeys to work, but try to avoid short trips at weekends. If you need to pop out for some milk, go for a nice walk instead.
3. Ditch unnecessary weight
The heavier your car, the more fuel it needs to move around. You wouldn't carry around a heavy suitcase unless you were on holiday, so don't forget to remove those golf clubs left in the boot or ski box on your roof bursting with equipment. The more pared back your car is, the lighter and more efficient it will be.
4. Stick to the speed limit
Going faster might save you time, but it won’t necessarily save you money. The temptation to hit 80mph on the motorway instead of 70mph can be very real, but it’s never something we recommend. The 20 minutes you save on a hypothetical 200-mile trip could cost you a significant sum in extra fuel costs.
5. Check your tyre pressure
The lower the tyre pressure, the more fuel the car needs to move it down the road. We recommend that you take five minutes every fortnight to check the tyres. If you're not sure what the pressure should be, you can normally find the figures near the lock inside the driver's door. Did you know you can order your tyres online from Lookers?
6. Switch off the aircon
British weather is a fickle thing. It’s tempting to leave the aircon on all year round; it stops the windows misting up in the winter and saves you worrying about the in-car temperature. But, and this is a big but, aircon uses a lot of fuel. It’s more economical to save it for extreme temperatures.
7. Keep your windows closed
It's not such a problem when you're driving around town, but when you're on the motorway and moving more quickly, the shape of your car is very important. You can't do much about how aerodynamic your car is (or is not), but you can avoid making it worse by not leaving the windows and sunroof open. It's better to use the air vents for most of the year, and the aircon when it gets too hot.
8. Change gear earlier
Don't labour the engine, but try changing up at an engine speed of around 2,000 rpm in a diesel car or 2,500 rpm in a petrol car. This can make such a difference and gear shift indicators can even be retrofitted to show the most efficient gear change points. Some brands like Vauxhall have these as standard on many models.
9. Try car sharing
Condensing multiple car journeys into one is always going to be a serious fuel saver. Look for car share partners in your workplace, some businesses encourage carpooling and can help organise the process. There are also car sharing apps and websites to coordinate longer journeys.
10. Keep your vehicle well maintained
Ensuring you keep your vehicle maintained and up to date with servicing will improve the efficiency of your vehicle, and therefore will improve your fuel consumption. Regular servicing can improve your Miles per gallon (MPG) and can help you run a more efficient engine. This is because services tend to checks the spark plugs, engine oil levels and filters, and changes them if required.
Is this what they call hypermiling?
There’s a difference between making a few adjustments to save fuel and hypermiling. Hypermilers go to extreme lengths to conserve fuel, including not driving at all wherever possible. To give you a taste of some hypermiling techniques, they include:
• Parking facing the sun on frosty days to avoid using fuel on melting a frozen windscreen
• Planning journeys when roads are less busy (or ideally empty) to cut down on braking and acceleration
• Removing all unnecessary weight from a car before driving
• Sticking to the flow of traffic on motorways to ride in the slipstream
Why is fuel so expensive now?
A post-pandemic boom in demand for fuel drove prices high, then Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent them through the roof. Russia is one of the world’s biggest oil exporters; disruption to the supply chain has had a catastrophic impact on the cost of fuel.
It’s impossible to say how long this disruption could last. Many UK motorists are using this as their cue to switch to driving an electric car.