How can I keep my motoring costs down?

The cost of living crisis continues to deepen – so how can you save money when behind the wheel?

Car insurance
Car insurance

The cost of living crisis continues to be felt across the UK, with households set to feel the pinch even more as an increase in the energy price cap will send bills skywards. For many families, a car is absolutely crucial, which is why ensuring that costs are kept as low as possible is so important.

But with rising fuel costs that challenge has become even more apparent. So how can you make some adjustments to bring down the price of motoring? Let’s take a look.

Think about where you’re filling up

Fuel prices
A display sign showing unleaded petrol prices at 164.9 per litre and diesel prices at 172.9 per litre at a Shell petrol station in Leamington Spa. Drivers continue to be clobbered by record fuel prices as petrol reaches an average of �1.65 per litre. Picture date: Wednesday March 16, 2022.

Fuel prices are really high at the moment which is why picking a petrol station with the best price possible can make a real difference. If you can find one, you’re likely to get the best price from supermarket retailers, so opt for one of these if you’re looking to do a big fill up.
However, make sure that the station you’re driving to is relatively nearby. Travelling further afield in search of cheaper fuel will dent your savings overall.

Make sure you’re not carrying any items you don’t need

Removing items can help to make a car as efficient as possible

Extra weight is a real killer of fuel economy, so one quick way to save some money is to make sure you’re not carrying any unneeded items in your car. Bags, clothing and even books can quickly add up weight-wise, so it’s a good idea to take them out.
Though it’s not going to make a massive difference, it’s a quick and easy measure – and one that costs nothing to do.

Drive as smoothly as possible

Manual gearbox
Being efficient with your gearshifts can make a real difference

Making some changes to your driving style can also help to improve your fuel economy. It’s a good idea to smooth out your inputs, becoming measured with the throttle and brakes to make steady progress. Also, try to be aware of what is coming up ahead of you in terms of the road layout. You might be able to lift off the throttle at the top and coast for a short amount of time.
It’s also a good idea to move through the gears steadily, rather than hanging onto a lower gear which will, in turn, increase engine revs and use more fuel.

Slow down

Move for 50mph limit on rural roads
File photo dated 29/10/08 of a national speed limit sign with a speed camera symbol underneath.

The speed that you’re travelling at can have a huge impact on how much fuel your car uses. Exceeding the speed limit isn’t just illegal but will really dent your fuel economy, so keeping to these limits not only keeps you within the law but will save you money, too.
Even lowering your speed by 5mph can make a big difference, so always bear that in mind if you’re trying to save fuel.

Make the most of free charging points

Electric Car Charging Stations – London
A Volvo car being charged using a Ubitricity lampost EV charging point, London. Picture date: Friday March 5, 2021.

If you’ve made the switch to an electric car, then you’ll likely feel the impact of increasing costs for electricity. However, there are still plenty of free charging points dotted across the country which you can use to get a no-cost charge.
Though most of these charge at slower speeds and will therefore require you to keep your car connected for longer, they’re still a great option. You’ll frequently find them located at Tesco superstores, for instance.

Keep your tyres properly inflated

Bentley Continental on winter tyres

Ensuring that your tyres are properly inflated is another way to ensure that you’re not using more fuel than you need to. It’s really simple and easy to do, too. Simply find a compressor (they’re usually located at most garages and service stations) and inflate your tyres to the required pressures.

Where can you find these pressures? They’re usually displayed inside the fuel filler flap or on the car’s door shuts. Failing that, you’ll be able to find them in the vehicle handbook.

Switch to a more fuel-efficient car

Volkswagen Tiguan eHybrid
The charging port is handily located

Now of course for many people simply buying a new car isn’t an option. However, if you’re in the position to change then switching to a more efficient car could make a difference. Plus, used car prices are particularly strong at the moment, so you’ll likely get a good deal for your existing car if you have one.

There’s the option of going electric, of course, which will dramatically bring down fuel bills – though you’ll have to work out how much it’ll cost to charge. That said, even switching to a more efficient petrol or diesel model could really help.

Remember to keep your car regularly serviced

Mechanic checks car oil
(Kwik Fit)

Thought it can be tempting to miss out on servicing your car in the short term, it’ll only come back to bite you later on. Missing our smaller maintenance jobs can only lead to bigger, more expensive bills further down the line.

So make sure that your car is kept in good mechanical shape. Not only will it avoid stingier bills later on but it’ll also ensure that your car is as safe and as efficient as possible.

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