By Daniel Jones, Consumer Affairs Editor for the Mail on Sunday
The cost of filling an average family car has topped £100 for the first time – it’s £33 more than 12 months ago and comes as energy, broadband and food bills are also increasing more and more.
There are ways to mitigate the spike in prices at the pump, but you have to be careful about this.
And by following a few simple driving tips you’ll dramatically improve the distance you can go on the same amount of fuel – it’s also good to know that getting just one extra mile per gallon equals saving 3p per liter the next time you drive. you fill up.
SHOP FOR GAS
Supermarkets, particularly Asda and Morrisons, tend to be cheaper than specialists such as BP, Shell and Esso.
The price gap has recently narrowed to 3p a liter on average, but can be as high as 6p in some areas, according to AA figures.
Prices rise even further at motorway service stations, with Martin Lewis’ Money Saving Expert site spotting it at 12p a liter more. Diverting a motorway for ten minutes can save £10 on filling a tank. The petrolprices.com website is a great tool to help drivers find the best price. Enter your location and the distance you are willing to travel.
PLAY YOUR CARDS WELL
Loyalty programs are key to increasing savings on all purchases and can also be a big fuel boost. The main ones are Nectar, Tesco Clubcard, Shell’s Go+, BPme and Texaco Star Rewards.
Nectar offers one point for every liter purchased at Sainsbury’s or Esso petrol stations, while Tesco offers one Clubcard point for every £2 spent. If you put £60 of petrol in your car every week at Tesco – that’s £3,000 a year – you’ll earn 1,500 Clubcard points.
Diesels still cost more to buy, but fuel doesn’t cost less – and they’re now only marginally more economical than the latest petrol engines (file image)
NO MORE TIRED TIRES
Worn or soft tires increase your car’s drag, burning more fuel. Pump them up to the right pressure and the car is three percent more efficient, according to Money Saving Expert.
The type of tire is also essential. A good quality energy efficient tire improves fuel economy by 2.5 miles per gallon over the worst, which one? found. That’s a saving of £50 a year on fuel.
Pay attention to the tire label – A is the best rating and G is the worst. More expensive brand name tires tend to be better, but the fuel savings make up for that.
LIGHT YOUR LOAD
Making the car as light as possible and reducing any additional drag are big fuel efficiency gains.
Carrying garbage in the trunk of your car consumes extra gasoline. Each 110 lb uses 2% more fuel.
Roof racks weigh up to 11 lbs and also increase drag, using ten percent more fuel. A roof box is worse, with three times the drag, according to the Energy Saving Trust. It gets worse the faster you drive.
Air conditioning and heating also consume fuel, so dress for the weather. But don’t open the windows wide when you’re hot and driving fast – it creates drag like a roof rack.
Releasing the accelerator and brakes can reduce fuel consumption by 30%.
Rapid acceleration consumes more fuel, which is wasted when the brakes are applied. Instead, predict when you’ll need to slow down at intersections, traffic lights, and roundabouts.
Drive to a roundabout, and if the route is clear, you save money because you don’t have to restart the car from a standstill – the most fuel-intensive manoeuvre.
Watch your speed. Going 70 mph rather than 80 mph uses around 25% less fuel, according to the AA. Going to 60 mph again uses nine percent less.
Driving less like Lewis Hamilton and more like your sensible dad can cut fuel bills by a quarter, or around £750 if you invest £60 a week.
BE SMART IN INSURANCE
Auto insurance is the biggest automobile cost after fuel and the vehicle itself.
The average annual premium is £416, according to the Association of British Insurers, and it’s one of the few costs to fall, down 5% from a year ago. But don’t accept your renewal quote – call and haggle, or compare offers on a comparison website.
Insurance costs can be further reduced by driving fewer miles or by parking your car in a garage. Fine-tuning your job title (without misrepresenting the truth) can also help – for example, using ‘marketing manager’ rather than ‘creative director’ to describe yourself can save £300.
For years, diesel has been an economical alternative to petrol: the cheaper cost per liter and the higher mileage have compensated for the higher price of the car. But the RAC says that is not the case now. Diesels still cost more to buy, but fuel doesn’t cost less – and they’re now only slightly more economical than the latest petrol engines.
You would have to drive a high annual mileage, over 10,000 and mostly on highways, for real savings. Diesels also face more punitive congestion charges for driving in cities and towns.
The cost of filling an average family car has topped £100 for the first time – it’s £33 more than 12 months ago and comes as energy, broadband and food bills also increasing more and more (file image)
AN ELECTRIC REVOLUTION
Electric cars were once the future, but now Teslas, Renault Zoes and Nissan Leafs are becoming more commonplace. One in ten new cars registered is electric.
They are more expensive to buy but have lower running costs – no road tax, electricity rather than fuel and waiver of congestion charges can cover that premium in a few years, experts say.
Transport research group New AutoMotive has calculated that someone who drives a Peugeot 208 280km a week and travels to London a few times a month could save £810 a year by going electric.
Taxing your car costs an average of £145-155 a year, but it can be up to £600. But dodging it will cost more: a fine of up to £1,000, or having your car blocked, resulting in a release fee of £200 and an additional £21 per day until you pay it.
If you drive in certain cities in Europe, including Paris, Marseille, Berlin and Munich, you risk a fine of £70 or more if you don’t have an emissions sticker.
…OR DON’T OWN A CAR
If you live in town and only need a car occasionally, you can now rent one for the day or even just for an hour or two.
Zipcar has 3,000 cars across the UK, parked on residential streets, and prices start at £3.50 an hour. You can also make one-way rentals to, for example, the airport.
Ubeeqo, owned by rental giant Enterprise, does them too, from £7 an hour.
Others, like Turo and Getaround, are like Airbnb for cars – you can rent out your car when you’re not using it, or you can use the service to rent a car.
Another option is to take an elevator with someone who is already on the same trip and contribute to the cost of gas. The blablacar.co.uk site is the place to list the rides.