I recently did a long car journey, for my eldest sons football, it’s always for football, to Nottingham and back. It was 105 miles each way and it got me thinking about how to save money driving and if I could actually save any money by driving slower. I have a Toyota self charging hybrid CHR which has all kinds of clever features to help with understanding fuel efficiency.
The drive to Nottingham was slower, an average speed of 60ish MPH saw 55.5 MPG. On the way home at 10pm at night the average speed was more like 70ish MPH and I got a 54.8 MPG measurement. I make that around 14p more for the 70 MPH journey compared to the 60 MPH. (Using conversion of 4.64 litres per gallon, fuel cost at time £1.31 per litre).
My conclusion is that driving more slowly REALLY doesn’t have much impact on the cost of the fuel used!
I turned to one of my favourite places for information, Twitter and asked my followers what their recommendations were for how to save money driving and they were amazing. Here are my favourites.
Lots of Money Saving Tips from The Reverend
The Reverend (divine financial intervention, love it) AKA Twon had loads of tips. Short and snappy, love it. A lot are relating to the weight of the vehicle. The less weight the less fuel you will use, (goes quickly to remove all the bags of charity stuff from car boot into garage).
1) Make tea/coffee at home rather than buy from service station (Save £4 per drink)
2) Buy ‘snacks’ from a supermarket (Save £2 per bag sweets) (Lynn adds – Get your fuel from Tesco and snacks from the kiosk to benefit from supermarket prices and offers. Fun fact I used to be finance business partner to the Tesco petrol station team in my late 20s)
3) Bring tap water from home (Save £1+ per bottle)
4) Fill up with fuel before you hit the motorway (Save £5+)
5) Check your tyre pressure is ‘correct’ as this affects fuel consumption, you can get free air at Sainsburys according to @amoneything_uk
6) If you aren’t carrying a roof box, remove your roof-bars (fuel consumption)
7) empty the boot of stuff you don’t need (fuel consumption)
8) If a journey is less than a mile….walk. Lynn adds, unless you’ve got a ton of heavy bags!
Use Apps to find the cheapest Petrol Station
The Financial Wilderness recommended using apps to check the price of fuel when out and about. Even at home you might be able to get fuel cheaper than your usual station. Petrol Prices – Free UK Petrol Station Comparison (android app link) is the app I use. Turns out Sainsburys is 1p cheaper than Tesco per litre. And I really need to check my tyre pressure for free.
This is really worth it when you are motorway driving, a short detour into a town will save you 10-20p per litre. Motorway stations are the worst.
Choose Your Route Carefully & Avoid Traffic
The art of money saving says to get your driving partner to navigate AROUND the congestion zone (even though you set the map to do that anyway ). We saved £15. Hoorah!
Katie of The Twenty Percent website Says – If you can, drive when the roads are quieter. Being stuck in traffic wastes money as your car is burning fuel but not moving. It’s also better for the environment, traffic free journeys are around three times less polluting than those with traffic!
More Food Tips
Ruth Power @rpower on Twitter suggested a great idea. She bought a proper plug in cool box for long journeys so no buying horrible service station overpriced deeply unhealthy food, although some may think that’s the highlight of a long journey.
SimonWelchIFA @SenseSimon says – Buy a decent flask. I spend half my late life transporting my boys to and from, and spectating at, sport. I used to waste a lot of money, and spend ages, trying to find garages selling hot drinks. Now I always have loads of home-made, free, fresh tea on tap.
A controversial suggestion – Sell car and Rent one when needed.
The Wealthster@thewealthster suggested to sell your car and rent one when needed. He has saved £1000s annually.
Hi FI UK @HiFIUK1 replied to The Wealthster – You live in London. Most of the UK doesn’t have the infrastructure to support this. I’d need to rent a car almost every day, my wife would need one every week day.
I replied ‘It is potentially better for those who drive limited miles and need a car less often? It’s not for me, but can see it working for city dwellers.
Hi FI UK @HiFI replied It may work in some circumstances and I think a lot of two car household families could go down to one. But I will always value freedom over money and outside of London not having a car severely limits your freedom My 30 minute commute would take 1 hr 22 mins each way in Leeds
The Wealthster replied I was the opposite. I had a car which I only used about twice a month. Yes I miss the freedom but I’m glad for the savings over the past two years (especially seeing as we were locked down – silver lining and all that).
Great debate, definitely a huge money saving option for people with great transport links.
The best Tips from The Grumpy Git with potential ££ savings too!
I’ll end with some incredible information and tips from Scott The Grumpy Git, one of my favourite ‘go to’ experts on consumer issues and complaints.
Use supermarket fuel
Most cars will run perfectly well on supermarket fuel. All fuel comes from the same refineries. The only difference is that BP, Shell or any other mainstream provider will put in some additives or detergents. (Fact, I know a lot about petrol from my Tesco previously mentioned exciting job!)
It won’t make any difference to the average motorist and the savings can be substantial at up to 10p a litre. A small car has a 40-litre tank and a family car will hold up to 70 litres, so you could save between £4 – £7 a time.
I live in Edinburgh and use Morrisons unleaded with a Morrisons More loyalty card which periodically gives me £5 vouchers towards groceries. Their fuel is likely to come from Grangemouth about 25 miles away from Edinburgh.
Use the earlier mentioned Petrol Prices app to find the best prices near to where you are.
Do basic checks before you set off
Ensure your tyres are set at the correct pressure and have the minimum tread. Tyres that are below the recommended tyre pressure will affect your fuel consumption and handling of your vehicle. The lifespan of your tyres will also be affected, which will hit you in the pocket when you have to replace them.
Keep a digital tyre gauge and portable tyre compressor in your boot. They are cheap and easy to buy and will save you on trips (and costs) in using the machines at petrol stations.
Check your wiper blades as well. Are they split? They deteriorate in time and it’s a necessity to have them in good working order.
Also check your bulbs (headlights, indicators and brakes). It’s a legal requirement and you owe it to yourself and other road users to ensure that they are in good working order.
Keep some basic essentials in your car and an e-cloth with some water handy in the boot
Keep a small first aid kit, a torch, a blanket, carrier bags and a fleece in your car – you may never know when you need them.
Summer driving brings with it a windscreen peppered with insects. Using your wipers will simply smear your windscreen and obscure your vision. A damp e-cloth will quickly and easily remove any insects and clean your windscreen.
Keep your speed down on your journeys by car
You will get the best fuel consumption if you keep your speed at 55 – 65mph and change gears below 3,000 rpm. Driving at 80mph will use at least 10% more fuel than driving at 70mph and it won’t make much difference to your arrival time.
Anticipate traffic ahead and use your engine as a brake via your gears to reduce wear and tear on your brakes. Sudden stop-start driving will also increase fuel consumption.
Keep your boot light and don’t use a roof rack
Don’t carry any unnecessary weight in your car. Every extra 50kg will add about 2% to your fuel consumption.
A roof rack or roof bars will add to the drag on your vehicle as well and can affect your fuel consumption by up to 10%.
A brilliantly useful post, I know I have learnt so much from these tips to save me ton, and I know you will too.