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Put your car on a diet and see how much you can save

Published 28 January 2015 by

Even though the price of fuel has been falling recently, it can still cost £50 or more to fill the tank of even a small family car. If you’re concerned about how much of your income you’re spending at your local petrol station (or can think of a million things you’d rather spend your money on than fuel!) we’ve got some top tips to help you keep more money in your pocket.

First things first, exchange your car for a Volkswagen XL1, the most fuel efficient car on the planet. Okay, not really… that was a big ask! A Volkswagen XL 1 might be able to do 313 miles a gallon, but it would set you back close to £100,000… which I’m guessing you don’t have lying around in your bank account. And if you do, well, cutting your petrol spend probably isn’t high on your priority list! Here are our real tips…

1. Get pumped up

Scrambling around for change to put in the air pump at the garage, and then racing around each side of your car before your allocated time is up, mightn’t seem like your idea of fun on a Sunday afternoon, but it could really help you be more fuel efficient. Try to check your tyre pressures regularly (not just before you go on an extra-long drive or when the MOT is due!) If you have low tyre pressure your car will need more fuel, so get pumping! To find out what your individual tyre pressure needs to be, you can use Kwikfit’s free online tyre pressure tool.

2. Remove the excess weight

How does your car boot compare to one of the most famous car boots in history – the one at the start of Goodfellas? Hopefully there are no bodies hidden inside, but if you have so much stuff you’d struggle to fit a postage stamp inside your boot, never mind a body, now might be time to clean it out. (You could spend ages sorting through everything or take a quick ‘stick everything in a bin bag and put it in the garage’ approach). Emptying your boot might seem like a drag, but the lighter your car is, the less petrol you’ll use when accelerating.

3. Don’t let anything hold you back

It sounds simple, but don’t be a dawdler. Sitting in your car with the engine running while you chat to a friend outside their house is going to use up fuel. Simply park up and turn the engine off. If your friend could talk the hind legs off the world’s biggest donkey, then you could save yourself quite a bit of money. (If you’re interested, the world’s biggest donkey is called Romulus, he’s 5ft 8 inches tall and lives in Texas). The same goes if you’re sat in a traffic jam and don’t think you’ll be moving for a while – turn the engine off to help save those pennies.

4. Don’t overdo the resistance training

If you arrive at destinations with hair like Dumb and Dumber’s Harry Dunne, you might want to think about turning off your air con, especially on short journeys. I’m no Nicky Clarke, but crazy windswept hair surely isn’t a good look, and even the air con in the most modern cars use a substantial amount of fuel. So, turn it off when you can to save both your money and your hair ‘do’.

As a general rule of thumb, when driving around built up areas at low speeds, turn the air con off and open the windows instead if you feel too hot. When driving at high speeds on the motorway, don’t have your windows down as the drag will impact on your fuel efficiency, so it’ll probably be better switching on the air con.

5. Take time to adjust

If you have a roof or bike rack that you only use once in a blue moon, but is firmly planted on the top of your car, like a superglued toupee, i.e. it doesn’t look good and it shouldn’t be there!, now might be the time to send it into retirement (at least until you next need it again).

6. Little and often

If you fill your petrol tank right to the top, you’re adding weight that you simply don’t need if you want to be fuel efficient. Why not only fill it up half way and make an extra trip to the petrol station instead?

You don’t want to be paying over the odds either, so before you visit your usual petrol station to fill up, check out how they compare to others in your area by using free petrol comparison website

7. Drive better

You don’t need to drive like The Stig to benefit from adjusting your driving technique to be more fuel efficient. Try to accelerate gradually, rather than over-revving and always try to be in the right gear.

If you have to drive a lot of miles to work, see if there’s someone you could car share with. You could ask around in your workplace or join the UK’s largest car share website LiftShare to see if there are any suitable matches. Fewer journeys = less petrol!

By Sarah Symons