Cost-of-living crisis: Fuel saving tips for motorists

Filling up with fuel - Bridgestone

Seven ways you can ease the pain at the pumps…

Whether you’re heading off on your summer holidays or coping with high fuel prices day-to-day basis, there’s no harm in trying to squeeze the maximum miles out of your tank of petrol or diesel.

We’ve teamed up with tyre giant Bridgestone to provide a series of fuel-saving tips to ease the pain at the pumps.

Bridgestone’s Technical Manager Gary Powell

By tweaking driving styles, Bridgestone’s Technical Manager Gary Powell believes that a typical tank can last longer, ensuring trips to the forecourt aren’t needed quite so urgently.

1. Make sure you purchase the best tyres for your vehicle

It’s important to invest in the right tyres for your vehicle while you may be tempted to go “budget” in the long-term this will cost you more money and be more expensive on your pocket in terms of fuel. Opting for a premium product can increase fuel-range. Bridgestone is one of the world’s largest tyre manufacturers and boast some of the best performing products in terms of low-rolling resistance.

2. Check your tyre pressures

It’s really important to make sure your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure as indicated in your owner’s manual. Underinflated and overinflated tyres both adversely affect fuel economy. Not only that you are compromising your safety – when your tyres are under inflated it compromises your ability to brake and manoeuvre safely. Vehicles with under-inflated tyres have increased rolling resistance that require more fuel to maintain the vehicles speed. This is not good for your pocket and equates to higher Co2 emissions too, which is not good for the environment either.

3. Check your tyres

If your tyres are not inflated correctly or are wearing it is both unsafe but will also have an effect on your fuel consumption. Try the 20p tread test. The legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm, so to check if your tyres are legal, insert a 20p coin into the tread to check. If any part of the coin’s border is visible, it’s time to change the tyres.

4. Easy on the accelerator

Excessive speed is the biggest fuel-guzzling factor so having a light right foot and ensuring all acceleration is gentle is very important to fuel-efficient driving. The best way to achieve high MPG (Miles per gallon) is to drive in the highest possible gear while keeping within the speed limit. The best advice in urban areas is to change up through the gears as quickly as you can with the lowest revs possible. The faster an engine spins, the more fuel it uses.

5. Anticipate

Anticipation is key. Try to anticipate what’s going to happen in front of you by looking well ahead. By doing this, you’ll see the traffic lights on red meaning you can ease back on the accelerator or slow down as you approach and potentially keep moving as opposed to coming to a stop. Keeping the car moving at the right speed is essential to fuel economy. Obviously, this depends on traffic conditions and what’s happening on the road ahead, but slowing down and having to accelerate again uses more fuel.

6. Cruise control

Cruise control only aids fuel economy when driving on a constant flat surface, hence why it is usually best reserved for motorway driving. One of the keys to saving fuel is driving at a constant speed, cruise control can do this effectively on flat surfaces, making your driving as fuel efficient as possible by negating unnecessary acceleration. However, if you were to use your cruise control regularly, not on flat roads, you would encounter problems that would increase your fuel consumption.

7. Lighten the load

Don’t pack things into your car that you won’t be needing once you arrive at your destination. Also, don’t leave your roof bars and roof box on because they create wind resistance and cause your car to use more fuel through the ‘drag’ effect. This is increased the faster you drive. Driving with an open window also has a similar effect. And while this isn’t going to make the biggest difference to your MPG figures, it stands to reason that the heavier a vehicle is, the more fuel it will use.

Fuel tax cut for UK drivers ‘among lowest in Europe’

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3 days ago
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Petrol station

The UK languishes near bottom of list of European countries which have acted to ease the burden of high fuel prices, claims new RAC research.

Motorists in the UK are paying as as much as 20p more per litre of petrol than drivers in France, for instance.

Out of 13 EU countries that have cut tax on petrol in order to ease the spiralling costs faced by drivers every time they fill up, only one – Luxembourg – has done less than the UK Government, with a duty cut in April worth the equivalent of 4.52p compared to the 5p duty cut announced at the UK Budget in March.

It’s a similar picture for diesel, with only Croatia doing less for its drivers than the UK, with a cut worth 4.5p.

The UK Government’s intervention back in the Spring looks paltry when compared to most other European nations, with Germany taking the equivalent of 25p a litre in tax off per litre of petrol on 1 June, Italy 21p, Portugal 16p and both Ireland and the Netherlands nearly 15p.

In addition, as an alternative to cutting fuel duty, governments of other countries in the EU have introduced fuel discounts at forecourt tills with Spain taking off 20 cents (about 17p) and France 18 cents (about 15p), while some fuel retailers including TotalEnergies in France and BP Spain have discounts running of up to 40 cents per litre (about 33p).

Of the remaining 15 EU states that haven’t taken steps to lower pump prices since March, all but six already charge less fuel duty than the UK even after the UK cut fuel duty by 5p in March’s Spring Statement, and almost all are cheaper at the pumps.

Although UK pump prices have finally started to fall in recent days – after significant pressure from the RAC on retailers to reflect the fact wholesale fuel costs have been falling for seven straight weeks – the average price of a litre of both petrol and diesel is well above the current EU averages of 159p and 161p respectively.

The UK is currently the joint-second most expensive country when it comes to the average cost of a litre of petrol (186p) – behind only Finland (190p) with Denmark also at 186p – and the second most expensive for diesel at 195p per litre, with only Sweden charging more (201p).

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More than half of parents financially contribute to their child’s first car, new research has revealed.

The survey, conducted by comparethemarket.com, found that a quarter of mums and dads (28%) covered the entire cost – at an average of £3,528.

City Average amount parents contribute to their child’s first car
Sheffield  £4,544
Edinburgh £4,230
Birmingham  £4,009
Newcastle  £3,802
London £3,779

Help from the bank of Mum and Dad didn’t stop there, with one third (34%) of parents paying for the entirety of their children’s driving lessons, with an average cost of £1,159 per child.

Of the parents who admitted to financially contributing to their child’s driving lessons – 48% helped out from their savings, while 44% used funds from the household budget.

The study also found that many parents contribute to their child’s initial on-the-road costs, with 18% admitting to contributing to MOT, road tax, servicing and fuel until their child can afford it themselves.

Alex Hasty of comparethemarket.com said: “The cost of insurance for new drivers is exceptionally high when compared to that of more experienced drivers, costing an average of £565 more than the average insurance premium.

“Therefore, it’s not surprising to see that so many parents are financially contributing towards their child’s first year of car insurance.

“It’s really important for new drivers to use comparison services such as ours to help find the right policy for them and to check for any potential savings.”

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More than one in three drivers have cut down on car journeys since beginning of the year as the cost of living crisis begins to bite, according to new research.

A study for Kwik Fit, the UK’s leading automotive servicing and repair company, reveals that 35% of drivers have cut down on car journeys they describe as “non-essential”.

Those driving petrol or diesel cars are twice as likely to have cut down on these journeys compared to drivers of electric vehicles (EVs) or hybrids (40% vs 22% respectively).

More than one in five drivers (21%) say they have consciously tried to drive more smoothly or less aggressively, with 14% say they have driven more slowly on all their journeys and 17% saying they have done so on some journeys.

In all, seven in 10 (69%) motorists have changed their behaviour since the beginning of 2022.

The Kwik Fit research also found that 17% of drivers of EVs or hybrids have swapped from a diesel or petrol car this year.

Some car owners have made an even more dramatic switch, with 4% saying they have sold their car this year and not replaced it.

The research findings highlight that the impact of rising costs is not uniform across different groups – drivers under 35 are a staggering eight times more likely to have sold their car and not replaced it than drivers over 55.

Michelin Compact 'Top Up' Digital Tyre Inflator

The increasing cost of motoring has prompted some drivers to take up good motoring maintenance habits with 10% saying they have started regularly checking their tyre pressures, while a slightly higher proportion (11%) have emptied their car boot of any heavy items and 3% of drivers have removed roof racks, bars or bike racks which they normally keep permanently on their car.

“We would encourage all motorists to make sure their car is running as efficiently as possible and to especially take the measures that cost nothing – ensure that their tyres are at the correct pressure and that the car is not suffering from unnecessary weight in the boot or drag on the roof,” said Roger Grigg of Kwik Fit.

“Seemingly small measures can have a big impact on fuel consumption and of course, having the correct tyre pressure will also help prolong the life of a tyre by reducing premature wear.”

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Two thirds of drivers think it is socially acceptable to ask passengers to contribute to petrol costs, according to research commissioned by the UK’s largest independent road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart.

As fuel prices surge to an all-time high, 64% of the 1,000 drivers surveyed believe it is OK for designated drivers to ask passengers to stump up money at the pumps.

These findings come as the cost-of-living crisis deepens for households across the country, with average petrol prices rising by 12.6p per litre between February and March – the largest monthly rise since records began in 1990.

Unsurprisingly, young drivers are more likely to ask passengers to help foot fuel bills, with eight in 10 (82%) of drivers between the age 18-24 believing it is more acceptable. This compares to over half (58%) of over 65s, who are the least likely age group to split fuel costs.

“With the soaring cost of fuel, as well as so many other factors contributing to the cost-of-living squeeze, perhaps it comes as little surprise that so many drivers are open to asking passengers to contribute towards their petrol and diesel bills,” said Neil Greig, Director of Policy and Research at IAM RoadSmart.

Neil also offered a word of advice on how changing driving behaviours can help motorists feeling the financial squeeze: “A few small changes in the way we prepare our vehicles and plan journeys can make a substantial difference to our fuel consumption.

“Gentle acceleration, using the highest safe gear, keeping tyres well maintained and turning off the air-conditioning can all help keep fuel costs down while also improving road safety.

“These simple changes mean you will not only be saving money, but also potentially saving lives.”

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