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Cash in on the petrol price war

An unhappy fuel tankMotorists are being urged to cash in on cheaper fuel after supermarket Morrisons cut a record 15p off a litre of petrol for shoppers who spend more than £60 in-store.

This major petrol discount campaign, dubbed "Fuel Britannia," launched on 23 February and is due to run until 4 March.

Vouchers can be redeemed until 11 March.

Previously, supermarkets such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s have offered shoppers up to 10p off a litre.

However, now that Morrisons has gone a step further, other supermarkets are expected to follow suit in a bid to compete.

Rising costs

The move by Morrisons comes at a time when the cost of oil is soaring, and fuel prices are increasing across the country.

At the turn of the century, petrol prices were about 77p per litre, according to insurer Hastings Direct, but have nearly doubled in 11 years.

While average petrol prices now stand at over £1.35 per litre, and average diesel prices at over £1.40, diesel recently crashed through the £1.50 barrier at some petrol stations.

There are now mounting concerns that things could get worse, especially given the ongoing tensions in the Middle East.

"There is more grim news ahead," warns Brian Madderson of RMI Petrol, which represents petrol retailers and forecourt operators.

"A perfect storm of global factors including rising crude oil prices, closing refineries and pressure on supply mean that by Easter we could see diesel and petrol prices go even higher."

Relief for motorists

Given this outlook, the latest campaign by Morrisons will bring at least some relief to motorists.

"With household budgets feeling increased strain from spiralling petrol prices, it’s encouraging to see supermarkets cutting prices," says Gareth Kloet, head of car insurance at Confused.com.

However, he warns that loyalty may not always pay when it comes to getting the best prices.

"These new offers all seem to be linked to savings that can only be achieved when buying both shopping and petrol together," he says.

"I’m sure most customers would rather simple price cuts at the pump which would make it easier to compare prices, and less confusion over who has the best deals."

The good news is there are plenty of steps you can take to keep costs down.

Keep a lid on petrol costs

A simple way to make savings is by logging on to a petrol prices website, such as PetrolPrices.com, to find out where you can buy the cheapest fuel in your area.

It’s also worth finding out if a petrol station you use regularly is affiliated to a loyalty programme, such as Nectar, as that will mean you can earn points on everything you spend there.

Be a savvy motorist

You can improve fuel efficiency by taking any items you don’t need out of your boot and removing the roof rack if you’re not using it.

Further savings can be made by driving smoothly, avoiding sharp accelerating and braking, and by driving in the highest possible gear.

"Make sure you use the correct specification of engine oil," adds Ian Crowder from the AA.

"Check tyres regularly and before long journeys, as under-inflated tyres create more rolling resistance and use more fuel – and don’t leave your air-con on all the time."

Change your driving habits

Significant savings can also be made by making small alterations to your daily routine, such as combining short trips into a single journey, or taking the bus instead.

Better still, consider leaving your car in the garage and walking or cycling, as this will save you money, and get you fit at the same time.

Finally, if you have no option but to use the car, look into setting up a car-share scheme with friends or neighbours.

You can find out more about car-sharing schemes across the UK at Carplus.org.uk.

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Esther Shaw

Esther Shaw

Esther Shaw is a regular contributor to Confused.com and is the former deputy money editor at The Independent and Independent on Sunday. Before that, she worked as a money and City reporter on The Daily Express and Sunday Express.
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