How to stop your motoring costs accelerating out of control
Many of us will be driving to a holiday destination in the UK this year and so for you – and for those thousands of unfortunate souls who commute to Cambridge each day by car – here are some tips on how to save money behind the wheel from Real PR.
Case study: Mark from Cherry Hinton
“When I was a child, I have vivid memories of us driving from Kent to holiday on the Gower Peninsula in Wales.
“I have even more vivid memories of Dad prepping the car before we left: Making sure the tyres were right, we weren’t taking any more than we needed to, the car was in good shape etc. Oh, and being packed off to bed at 8pm the night before we left, only to be woken at 2am to start the five-hour journey ‘so that your dad doesn’t have to drive through the traffic’!
“Three things invariably happened: We beat the traffic, we got to our holiday cottage hours before we could get in and we were all incredibly tired and grouchy for the first day.
“As a teenager, I thought my dad was a bit weird with all his pre-journey checks, but now, as someone who’s about to take his own kids to a holiday cottage for the first time, I think he may have been on to something. Money is tight and if I can save a few quid on the journey I’m in. Not sure about the 2am start, though.”
Firstly, and most obviously, be savvy when and where you fill up.
Despite a slight decline in fuel prices, the cost of diesel and petrol is still heinous, so don’t just stop at the first petrol station you clap eyes on. Supermarkets are generally the cheapest and Asda has recently started a price war, so you shouldn’t pay more than 111.7p per litre at any of its sites. Garages have cut their prices but, unlike Asda, don’t have one price across the whole country.
Away from supermarkets, websites such as petrolprices.com regularly update prices on around 8,000 garages, so you should be able to find the cheapest near you.
And whatever you do, avoid motorway services unless you’re in danger of running out. Their prices reflect the fact that you don’t have any alternative.
Unless you’re going on a long journey, don’t fill the tank to the brim. The more fuel you carry, the more you’re going to use to cart the extra weight around! Just put in what you need for the next few days.
Talking of weight, remove things you don’t need. Have a good clear-out and you’ll be amazed how many more mpg you can do. Not using roof racks or boxes? Take them off. They’re extremely wind-resistant and can make the car use up to five per cent more fuel.
And it’s not just the car that needs to be lighter. Making your feet lighter on the pedals and driving at 70mph rather than 80mph uses nearly 25 per cent less fuel.
Don’t just drive more slowly, drive better. Good anticipation can avoid the need for heavy braking and acceleration, which leads to improved fuel consumption and lower maintenance costs. Choosing the right gear helps too – try to change up at 2000 to 2500 revs.
Keep your car in good shape. Tyres at the correct pressure will use less petrol than those which are under-inflated. Having your car serviced regularly will make for a smoother, cheaper journey.
Do you need the air con on? In the recent heatwave the answer was clearly yes, but as a general rule, the more electrics that are on, the harder the car has to work.
Finally, plan your journey. Use your SatNav or Google Maps to find the best route, and don’t follow the lemmings and pile into the car at lunchtime on the first Friday of the school holidays, try to find a quieter time. You’ll have a faster – and cheaper – journey.
Our 10 top tips
1. Be savvy where you buy your petrol. Supermarkets are usually cheapest and there are price comparison sites to help.
2. Don’t fill your tank to the brim – unless you’re going on a long journey. Petrol is heavy: the more you carry, the more you use to ferry it around.
3. Remove unnecessary weight. Emptying your boot of clutter will improve your MPG.
4. Take off boxes and roof racks. If you’re not using them, they’re just extra wind resistance that will make your car work harder.
5. Be light on the pedals. Driving at 70mph rather than 80mph will use up to 25% less fuel.
6. Drive better. Good anticipation avoids heavy braking and acceleration, which can increase fuel costs.
7. Choose the correct gear. Try to change at between 2,000 and 2,500 revs.
8. Keep your car in good shape. Correct tyre pressures and regular servicing will help improve efficiency.
9. Plan your journey. Use your SatNav or Google Maps to find the most efficient route.
10. Avoid the crush! Unless you have to be at your holiday destination at a certain time, try to avoid travelling when everybody else is.