Wednesday 17th April 2024

How to save money on petrol

save money on petrol

It won’t have escaped your notice that we’re in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis right now. Therefore, here’s our guide on how to save money on petrol.

One early sign of this was petrol (and diesel) prices shooting up. Thankfully in the last few weeks they have come down a bit, but the situation remains volatile. And with no end in sight to the war in Ukraine, further increases remain very possible.

So today I thought I’d look at some ways you may be able to save money on petrol. I’ll start with an old favourite.

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Shop around

I must admit in the past I’ve been guilty of paying insufficient attention to this. 

I would just go to the nearest supermarket, put in £20 or £30 worth of fuel, and not look too closely at the cost per litre. But that’s a luxury few of us can afford now.

Obviously driving around all the local filling stations looking for the cheapest wouldn’t be sensible, but there are a few websites which will do this job for you. The best known – and the one I’m recommending here – is Petrolprices.com.

You do have to register on this site before you can use it, but don’t be put off – it’s free and only takes a moment. Once you’ve signed up you’ll be able to see a map showing petrol stations in your local area and what they are charging. 

This can be quite an eye-opener. In my area, when I tried this today, prices ranged from a cheapest of £157.9p a litre to a most expensive £166.9p a litre. That’s a difference of 9p a litre. Obviously, if you’re filling up your tank this could make a big difference to how much you pay.

Petrolprices.com will also (if you opt in) send you a weekly email with price updates and other useful info. 

Drive for fuel economy

Another great way to cut your petrol costs is driving for fuel economy. Here are some tips for doing this.

  • Avoid braking and accelerating sharply. That means reading the road, anticipating changes in gradients and traffic conditions, and making any necessary adjustments in good time. A good satnav can help with this.
  • Keep your speed moderate. According to government stats, driving at a steady 50 mph rather than 70 can improve fuel economy by 25%. For most cars the ideal is between 50 and 60 mph. Once you get much over this, fuel economy starts to drop rapidly.
  • Avoid revving the engine when starting. This is something that till recently I was guilty of myself, having grown up when you had to do this to prevent a cold engine stalling. But with modern cars, many of which have computer-controlled ignition systems, it’s no longer necessary. If you still do this habitually, train yourself to keep your foot well away from the accelerator pedal when starting the engine. This will save petrol and help with fuel economy.
  • Keep your tyres inflated to the correct pressure. According to the RAC, tyres under inflated by 15 psi – a difference you might not notice visually – can use 6% more fuel. Under-inflated tyres also wear faster and can be a safety hazard.
  • Travel light. The more weight you carry in the car, the worse the fuel economy is likely to be. So empty your boot as much as possible and remove the roof rack if you’re not using it. The latter will also aid fuel economy by reducing air resistance.
  • Similarly, try to avoid driving around with a full tank. Petrol is heavy, and the added weight will reduce your car’s fuel economy. Ideally don’t fill your tank more than half-way, though of course this may not always be practical.
  • Finally, having lots of electrical devices running – from heating to aircon – can reduce fuel economy as well, especially at lower speeds. So try to keep this to a minimum, but without of course compromising your comfort or safety.

Go electric?

This is really a subject for another article. But if you’re thinking of getting another car, switching to an EV (electric vehicle) could certainly save you money in the longer term.

Admittedly, electricity prices are going up too. However, a growing number of energy companies are offering special deals for EV drivers. 

Octopus Energy, for example, recently launched their OctopusGo tariff. This allows people who own (or lease) electric cars to charge them at a much cheaper rate between 00:30 and 04:30 every night. Note that you will need to have a modern smart meter (as discussed in my article last month) to take advantage of this.

Electric cars are obviously expensive but prices are beginning to fall and there is a growing second-hand market too. 

There isn’t much doubt EVs are the future, but whether to switch now or later is a decision every driver needs to make for him- or herself.

As always, if you have any comments or questions about this article, please do leave them below.

Nick Daws writes for Pounds and Sense, a UK personal finance blog aimed especially (though not exclusively) at over-fifties.

Photo by Sophie Jonas on Unsplash

Nick Daws

Mouthy Blogger

Nick Daws is a semi-retired freelance writer and editor. He is the author of over 30 non-fiction books, including Start Your Own Home-Based Business and The Internet for Writers. He lives in Burntwood, Staffordshire, where he has been running his personal finance blog at Poundsandsense.com for over seven years.

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