How to beat high fuel costs

Published:
29 January 2013
Topic:
News,Insurance,Motoring,Car

The price of petrol and diesel could rise by as much as 4p per litre at the pumps as retailers pass on the increase in wholesale fuel prices on to motorists.

This could push prices towards and even beyond the psychological barrier of £1.50 per litre. A number of action groups have threatened fuel protests if this level is breached.
 
And with the average cost of fuelling a car coming in at around £51 per week, it's feared that this latest set of price hikes could drive some already cash-strapped families off the road completely.

But there are a number of ways in which you can save money, so consider the following ways to fight back against high fuel costs...

Shop around

We're all used to shopping around for the best deal on car insurance, but how many of us shop around for the best deal on petrol and diesel prices?

If you don't shop around, you could be paying as much as 9p over the odds for every litre you buy -more than twice the amount of the expected price hike.

The best way to compare prices is to tap your postcode into www.petrolprices.com/ which will then give you a rundown of the prices in your immediate area.

Convert to LPG

Converting your car to LPG will slash what you spend on fuel. LPG is relatively cheap simply because the duty imposed upon it is much less than that on petrol and diesel.

Not only is it cheaper, it's a cleaner-burning fuel that is better for your engine and the environment - which means you'll also benefit from a slight reduction in your road tax.

The only downside is you'll have to fit secondary fuel tank - at a cost of around £1,500. If you're spending £50-odd a week on fuel and get that down to £25 with LPG, you could earn back the cost of the modification in about 14 months.

Remember to tell your insurer if you decide to modify your car!

Shed extra weight

The heavier the car, the more fuel it consumes, so offload any unnecessary items kept in the boot to cut costs.

Increased drag can also add to your fuel consumption so take off any roof racks when not in use and try not to drive with the windows down.

Adapt your driving

If you're the sort of driver that treats every set of traffic lights like the starting grid at Silverstone then you'll be eating up the petrol with every unnecessary rev of the engine.

You can save money by cutting back the engine revs and accelerating smoothly. This also goes for starting up the engine, when you should take your foot off the gas and let the vehicle's control system do the work.

Also try to shift up to the higher gears as soon as possible as lower gears usually mean higher fuel consumption. Keep gear changes as smooth as possible and avoid sharp acceleration and braking.

If your car has cruise control it's a good idea to use this on motorways as this can cut fuel costs by maintaining a steady speed.

Don't idle

If you're parked up, turn off your engine and restart it when you're ready to drive off again - unnecessary idling is a needless waste of fuel.

Wrap up in winter

Winter driving can increase engine workload by up to three per cent as 'warm-up' idling and increased use of windscreen wipers, heaters and headlights all put extra strain on the engine. Cut this down by covering windscreens on winter nights, using a scraper to clear any ice from windows and turning off unnecessary car electrics.

Regular service

Getting your car regularly serviced will mean that it will not only last longer but be more fuel efficient.

Carry out simple monthly checks on oil and water levels and make sure your tyres are inflated to the right level - a drop in pressure of just 6 PSI can result in a 20% increase in fuel consumption and a 30% increase in tyre wear.

Plan ahead

Carefully planning your route means you can avoid busy roads and possibly lengthy spells sat in traffic - idling equates to zero miles per gallon! And you won't get lost.

Don't drive as much

It's obvious, but big savings can be made by cutting down the number of miles you drive. Car-sharing and combining several errands in one trip can cut down on fuel costs and reduce the wear and tear on your vehicle.

Hybrids hit by London Congestion Charge

Transport for London, which runs the capital's Congestion Charge scheme, wants to remove the £10 charge exemption enjoyed by most hybrid cars. If approved, TfL's proposal to replace the Greener Vehicle and Electric Vehicle discounts with an Ultra Low Emission discount will mean only pure electric  or plug-in hybrids that emit 75g/km or less of CO2 (and meet the Euro 5 standard) will qualify. All diesel cars would have to pay the charge. The change, if agreed by Boris Johnson, mayor of London, would take effect this spring.

Please note:
Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.

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Les Roberts

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