Fuel Saving Tips to Reduce Your Transport Costs

With petrol prices set to rise above £2.50 a litre and Diesel above £3 a litre in the near future (Guardian), these fuel saving tips will help you in getting more mileage out of your vehicle so that you can fill up less often at the pumps.  Just recently the average price per litre of petrol was 163.46p and Diesel was at an all-time high of 173.44p.  Worryingly, these prices are predicted to get much worse in the near future, with some stating pricing may exceed £2.00 for Diesel.  To put this in perspective, this means as of March 2022 (first published), it now costs on average £89.90 to fill the tank of an average family car.  An average Diesel family car costs £95.39 to fill.

All of this will have a dramatic impact on running costs for community transport providers, patient transport operators and public transport providers.  It will also impact our disposable incomes too.  The tips in this article will hopefully let you save more at the pumps and instil good habits whilst driving, so you can get more miles per gallon.

You don’t have to choose between saving money and reducing your carbon footprint. There are many ways to do both at the same time. Here is a quick summary of some of the tips covered in this article that can help you save money and reduce your operating costs:

1. Make sure your tires are properly inflated. Underinflated tires can increase fuel consumption by up to 3%.
2. Keep your car well maintained. A dirty air filter can increase fuel consumption by up to 10%.
3. Drive calmly and smoothly. Aggressive driving can increase fuel consumption by up to 33%.
4. Combine trips and errands whenever possible. Driving to several different places wastes fuel and increases emissions.

Why Are Fuel Prices Rising?

The recent fuel price surge is being driven by fears of an economic shock resulting from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.  Uncertainty is also being driven by the heavy sanctions being placed on Russia, which has the largest reserves and is the largest exporter of natural gas in the world.  The price of crude oil has risen which is used to create petrol and this is being passed on to consumers at the pumps.

Unlike at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and during lockdowns where many of us weren’t travelling the demand for crude oil collapsed, seeing prices fall.  The demand for petrol and diesel diminished.  Now that the UK is back to almost a normal life crude oil suppliers are struggling to keep up and world events and this demand have seen prices surge.

Something that is also not being mentioned much is that at the moment, the pound is much weaker against the dollar.  Given that crude oil is paid for in US dollars this is also making fuel much more expensive.

The chart below shows the real-term impact of this increase:

petrol prices fuel saving tips

Source: Confused.com

Retailers purchase crude oil on the global market, where cost fluctuates with fuel supply and demand. Overseas markets may also affect prices too.

The base fuel rate is driven by the price of crude (Brent) oil coupled with the dollar ($) exchange rate.  Recently (March 2022 when first published), the price of oil jumped to $139 a barrel, the highest it has been in over 14 years.

These daily price fluctuations have created uncertainty and a lack of confidence in the markets as the war in Ukraine rages on.  There is some hope, however, that we may begin to see a drop in oil prices as the wholesale price of oil comes down as other nations such as Saudi Arabia up their oil production and there is hope that potential oil sanctions might be lifted on Iran if agreements can be made.  The price rises we are seeing at the moment are the knock-on effect of the high increases experienced at the end of February 2022 and the beginning of March 2022.

Summary

  • World events are impacting the price we’re paying at the pumps.
  • There is a lot of uncertainty about global supply as countries distance themselves from Russian oil supply.
  • Crude oil is bought in dollars and the pound is currently weak against the dollar increasing costs further.

How Can I Immediately Save Money on Buying Fuel?

One of the easiest ways to save money on fuel in the short term is to download an app that will inform you of local fuel prices.  Using such an app means you can plan where you would fill up your vehicle and not get caught at a service station for instance.

 

 

One of the best (and free) apps is called ‘Petrol Prices’ (visit www.petrolprices.com to sign up).  You can easily create an account and find the cheapest nearest petrol station on the map.  This will then show you local prices without you needing to go anywhere and help you plan your routes.  You can also help other road users by reporting the latest prices on your visit to the pumps too.  Even once the surge in oil prices has passed, you can save a lot of money with petrol prices.

Some other petrol saving apps to check out are:

  • ‘WhatGas Petrol Prices’,
  • the AA (requires membership),
  • The sat nav “Co-Pilot” is not free but includes local prices.

important fuel saving tips

15 Important Fuel Saving Tips You Can Benefit Immediately From

There are a number of things you can do to save fuel before you set off on your journey and improve your fuel-efficient driving style.  Here we outline the more obvious but even some less known fuel-saving tips you might not have heard of.  Believe it or not, optimising fuel consumption is also known as “hypermiling” or the more commonly used phrase “eco-driving”.  All of these tips are to ensure you got the maximum miles per gallon (MPG) you can, some can even be applied to those already driving any electric vehicle too.

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Maintain Your Vehicle

By performing routine repairs and maintenance, your vehicle will be more reliable, thereby enhancing fuel efficiency.  Repairing parts and keeping your engine well oiled will keep everything running smoothly and as optimised as possible.  Checking your water level, using oil of superior quality, checking your brake pads, and even changing your discs if required, will lessen the fuel you will use when driving your vehicle.  You should always stick to your vehicle service schedule, it will save you more in the long run.

Maintain Tyre Pressure

Keeping your tyre pressure at the recommended level and correct pressures will keep your fuel consumption to a minimum.  Having an under-inflated tyre or tyres below the recommended pressure demands more fuel for the vehicle. If you are unsure of your vehicle’s recommended tyre pressure you will find it in your handbook, via the dealer/vehicle website or on the side of the driver’s door.  It is recommended to check your tyre pressure monthly.

Lighten Your Load

The more weight your car has, the more fuel it requires to travel.  before you set out on your journey, be certain that you remove anything of weight from the vehicle.  This might be golf clubs, heavy suitcases you’ve yet to take out, or anything that’s just been sitting in the boot for too long.  Any excess weight in the vehicle will decrease your MPG.  Carrying unnecessary weight is one way to see your fuel efficiency decrease considerably.

Remove Excess Drag

Just as extra weight decreases MPG, so too can unnecessary aerodynamic drag on the vehicle.  Remove any roof racks you don’t need such as containers or bike racks before setting off.  This will ensure the air travels over your vehicle as smoothly as possible reducing wind resistance reducing fuel costs and increasing fuel economy.  Don’t neglect to leave your roof bars and roof box on the roof, or they will divert air into your engine and cause the “drag” effect. This is multiplied the faster you drive.

Even having patriotic flags on your vehicle increases fuel consumption as they increase air resistance.  The Energy Saving Trust estimates that an empty roof rack adds 16% increased drag when driving at 75mph.  Find out more here: https://energysavingtrust.org.uk

Be Gentle on the Accelerator

Driving smoothly and gently can reduce fuel consumption. Driving quickly and erratically can cost you considerably more in fuel. Avoid tailgating, changing lanes abruptly and pulling up to and away from traffic lights abruptly, as these consecutive actions will eat up your fuel and reduce your fuel economy.

Anticipate Hill Climbs

As you drive, anticipate the road ahead.  Preparing for a hill climb earlier, will keep the car engine speed consistent and reduce the engine power needed to suddenly pull the car uphill if you were to change gear mid-hill climb.  This extra power required reduces your MPG and is costing you at the pumps.

Higher hills are associated with decreased fuel efficiency, so when driving toward one, increase speed a little before a key uphill, and then minimize your speed gradually as you ascend. Provide the additional momentum gained from accelerating the extra speed with the drop in fuel usage.

Avoid Idling and Maintain Speed

Idling can waste fuel and money despite what many might think. Vehicles also produce their least MPG whilst fiddling too. Large vehicles have the tendency to squander more fuel than smaller vehicles and idling also tends to shorten the engine life span, resulting in higher maintenance expenses.  Idling to warm the engine up is also wasting fuel.  The best way to optimise the engine is to just drive, especially in modern cars which have efficiencies built into them.

The faster you drive the more fuel you will lose.  For example, driving faster might get you to your destination quicker, but saving 20 minutes might cost you in excess of £7.  So for example, travelling at 80mph will cost you more than if you travel at 70mph.  Try to maintain a consistent speed if you can.  It will keep the engine running efficiently.

Use the Engine Start and Stop Feature

Many modern cars now have an auto engine start/stop.  For those not used to it, it can feel like the car has stalled as the engine switches off.  The moment you put your foot back onto the accelerator, the vehicle engine starts up again and away you go.  In rush hours, a study by the Society of Automotive Engineers shows that vehicles that are capable of starting and stopping when traffic is heavy achieve 8% better fuel economy.  Check your vehicle’s manual to see if this feature is available, it might save more fuel than you think.  Despite a common misconception starting and stopping the engine is not wasting fuel as the function has been optimised within the engine management system (at least in modern cars).

Keep Windows Closed

Keeping your windows closed whilst driving reduces drag and air resistance on the vehicle.  This is especially true at higher speeds when on motorways and dual carriageways.  By opening the windows you are actually altering the car shape and creating drag, this slows the car down meaning the engine has to work harder to maintain speed, using more fuel in the process.

Drive Slower

The most fuel-efficient speed of any vehicle is between 55mph and 65mph.  Anything above or below this is using additional fuel.  Make sure as you drive that you avoid over-revving the engine too.  The moment you hit higher revs you should be quickly changing up a gear.  Speeds above 70mph are where your vehicle really starts to use more fuel.  Sometimes we might speed away, only to get caught in slower traffic down the road, thus not really getting anywhere.  Always obey the speed limits and go easy on the accelerator pedal.

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Avoid Traffic

Sitting in traffic without an auto on/off engine start feature risks idling your vehicle and engine.  As mentioned, idling wastes a lot of fuel.  If your vehicle is to stop for more than 30 seconds you should get into the habit of switching off your engine (unless it automatically does so).  If you do get caught in traffic make sure you accelerate away smoothly and try to keep moving to avoid idling as much as possible.

You could also use services such as TomTom Traffic which will divert you around traffic, or plan your journeys so that you don’t travel during rush hour.  Be mindful that using heating and aircon will also reduce your fuel efficiency in traffic as the vehicle won’t be running as efficiently.

It goes without saying, that you should always make sure you have enough fuel in the vehicle so that you don’t come to a grinding halt and block other motorists too.

Plan Ahead

By planning your journey you can anticipate smoother more fuel-efficient routes, greatly enhancing your fuel economy.  This could include combining journeys, so picking up people in the same area or visiting clients in the same vicinity on the same day.  This way you are reducing your need to travel unnecessarily.  Any shopping trips or chores you need to get some, especially short trips, try and get them all done at the same time.  A warm engine is much more efficient than a cold engine, and starting and stopping frequently is one way of wasting fuel when if you plan journeys together you will get much more from your vehicle.

Drive Efficiently and Use Eco Mode

Make sure you drive your vehicle efficiently. This means changing your driving style slightly by trying to maintain a constant speed, driving at a consistent speed, changing up gears earlier than required and being light on the brakes.  This will not only reduce wear and tear on the vehicle but also improve your fuel-efficient driving.  Reducing the car revs and accelerating and decelerating slowly is also a good style to get used to.  Driving should not be a race.  Driving should be “calm”, keeping this in mind is a good way to get more miles from your tank.

Driving erratically over speed bumps wastes fuel too.  Try to drive consistently over these at 15-20mph.  Accelerating away from them and then slamming on the brakes to driver over them really guzzles fuel.

In some vehicles, you can even set your car to ‘eco-climate’ and ‘eco-mode’ where the vehicle will optimise the climate settings and smooth over the gear ratios to ensure gear changes happen as efficiently as possible.  Eco climate mode will also optimise the energy required to cool or warm the vehicle thus making your fuel go further.  This is a common feature now in more modern vehicles.

You should also try to get to an efficient gear.  All cars will start in the lowest gear, but the sooner you can get to the higher gears, the more efficient your vehicle will be and the higher fuel economy you will achieve.

Car Share

Sharing your vehicle with others and having that favour returned, is another way to save fuel.  Let’s imagine you head in the same direction to work, a sports match or an appointment.  You could share a lift with someone then next time return the favour – halving the usage of your vehicle for the same trip  This will help you save money, make it easier to park, reduce your carbon footprint, reduce road congestion and improve your social life by chatting along the way.  It’s why at Road XS we built car sharing in from the start as there are so many benefits.

Drive Less

Of course, the easiest way to save fuel is to use your vehicle less.  The simplest way to do this is to not use the vehicle for small, local trips and walk into town instead.  Your vehicle is most inefficient on stop-start, low mileage urban journeys, so if you can walk to the shops locally.  You will not only save money at the pumps but your health will benefit too.

Summary

  • Remove drag and excess weight from your vehicle.
  • Maintain your tyre pressure and check your tyres.
  • Go easy on the accelerator and avoid hard braking.
  • Keep windows closed.
  • Enable technology such as engine start/stop.
  • Plan your journeys in advance optimising pickups and avoiding traffic.

Common Fuel Saving Questions

Here we debunk some of the most common questions relating to fuel efficiency and car functions.

Does Using Aircon Use Fuel?

Yes, but using aircon, on modern cars can actually improve your fuel consumption.  By using aircon to control the climate of your vehicle, research has found that it can actually improve your fuel consumption by 8-10%.  Using aircon (climate control) is much more efficient than opening your windows as the vehicle drag is reduced. It is also much more comfortable for the driver and passengers on the journey too than having the wind blowing through the car.

Does Car Hearing and Using Heated Seats Use Fuel?

Using heated seats does use more fuel in your vehicle, but not by much.  Typically heating in your car works by using heat already created from the vehicle’s engine and sending it into the interior for warmth.  Heated seats work slightly different so will use some fuel, but less than you think.  Added to this is that all vehicles have less fuel efficiency in colder weather than in warmer weather meaning you likely won’t need to use heated seats in the summer, so you’ll be naturally more fuel-efficient anyway.

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Is Driving in Cruise Control More Efficient?

Generally, yes.  Cruise control can help your vehicle be more fuel-efficient by maintaining a constant speed. A driver constantly (even small amounts) increasing and decreasing speed will reduce fuel efficiency, but using cruise control means the onboard computer maintains the constant speed.

Even adaptive cruise control (where the vehicle will automatically slow down and accelerate without you touching the brakes or accelerator) will save you fuel and make your journey more fuel-efficient.  Again, using the vehicle’s computer is much more efficient than driving using your own foot on the accelerator.  You need to set this up properly though, as setting the adaptive cruise to be close to the car in front can result in short, sharp jolts which wear more on your brake pads.

Should I Fill My Car Fuel Tank Up in Full?

A full tank of fuel is actually causing your car’s weight to increase, which means you need to use more fuel as a result.  Therefore, not filling up your tank to the brim is actually saving you some money in fuel consumption and increased MPG.

When the Fuel Light Comes on Am I About to Stop?

Generally no.  It depends on the vehicle, but once the fuel light comes on, you will have about 40-60 miles of fuel left in the tank (depending on how efficiently you are driving).  It is normally triggered when you have about 10%-15% of fuel remaining.  If the fuel indicator is stating or has dropped down to 0 this means you run the risk of stopping at any moment, but you might get 10-20 miles still out of the tank – but we wouldn’t risk it.

Fuel Saving Features in Road XS Transport Software

Despite the current fuel prices, from day one at Road XS, we have always endeavoured to get people to their destinations as few miles as possible.  Fuel saving features in Road XS include:

  • Finding the nearest available driver to the passenger.  This saves the passenger money by reducing the ‘dead miles’ they would have to pay for a driver who is further away than needs to be.
  • Optimising the journey routes.  By optimising the route, the vehicle is not needing to travel any further than necessary and in most cases will take the most fuel-efficient journey.
  • Optimising passenger pickups.  Road XS smart route technology is the only software that fully optimises Dial a Ride and DRT passenger pickups.  By grouping pickups together, we are able to cut journey times and distances, reducing fuel costs and carbon footprints.
  • Optimising vehicle selection.  Additional weight as you now know decreases fuel efficiency.  Within Road XS we suggest appropriate vehicles for the journey ahead to cater for wheelchairs and mobility requirements.  This means that you can avoid excess weight and drag for journeys by selecting the appropriate vehicle for the journey at hand.
  • Reducing mistakes.  With What3Words fully integrated with Road XS, no driver or passenger location needs to be a mystery.  By pinpointing locations exactly, drivers know exactly where passengers are and where to pick them up from.  This reduces fuel consumption by getting people exactly where they need to be without getting lost or making mistakes.
  • Car sharing.  With Road XS you can ensure passengers share journeys together that are heading in the same direction so that you can reduce the vehicles on the road in your local area.  Keeping track of passenger requirements and providing a friendly service with Road XS means you can match the right people together for an enjoyable journey.
  • Running services to demand.  With Road XS we can provide you with the technology to manage your services by demand (DRT).  This means if there is no demand, then you don’t need to run your transport service for the day so saving operating costs.

Summary

Road XS advanced technology reduces driver mileage to save fuel costs.  This also reduces the cost of the journey for the passenger at the same time.  By optimising your routes you also reduce wasted mileage and prevent drivers from travelling “dead miles”.

Fuel Saving Tips Summary

As you can see there is a lot you can do to save fuel.  You can make changes before your journey starts, whilst driving and utilise the latest technology to save fuel costs and increase efficiencies.  Here is a quick summary of what we covered in this article:

  • Fuel prices have hit record highs but may reduce in the near future. Uncertainty will remain for some time in the markets.
  • The high fuel prices are driven by the war in Ukraine and an over-reliance on Russian oil and gas which is leading to uncertainty in the oil markets along with other external world events.
  • There are a number of fuel saving tips you can make such as closing your windows whilst driving, removing excess vehicle weight, reducing vehicle drag, using cruise controls where appropriate, planning your journeys in advance, changing your driving style, making the most of the latest technology and driving less by walking instead of driving in your local area.
  • Vehicles are always more fuel-efficient in warmer climates than in cold ones.  Using aircon can actually increase your fuel efficiency and filling your car full of fuel can actually reduce your MPG.

We hope this article helps you just a little bit during these times of high prices.  If you have anything you would like to ask or add to this article then please don’t hesitate to reach out to us, we’d love to hear from you.

This article was updated: