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How to spend less on fuel

money, fuel, carAs if rising car insurance premiums were not enough for British motorists to deal with, the cost of petrol is also soaring. According to the Retail Motor Industry Independent Petrol Retailers Association, prices at the pump are expected to increase by 8 per cent by the beginning of next year to a record high of 125.9p per litre.

The prediction follows increases in crude oil prices, as well as the announced rises in fuel duty and VAT over the coming year. It means that cutting your fuel consumption will be more valuable than ever, so here are some tips to help you do just that.

Maintain your motor

Changing the oil once a year and keeping your engine tuned, tyres in good condition and wheels evenly aligned, are just a few of the ways in which you can dramatically affect your car’s performance with a little tender loving care. For more information, take a look at our Motor Maintenance Top Tips.

Drive greener

It’s not just your car’s performance on the road that can affect your consumption – have a think about the way you drive, too. Revving the engine unnecessarily, braking and accelerating aggressively and heating up the engine in cold weather all waste fuel but can easily be avoided.

Shifting into a higher gear as soon as is safe can save up to 15 per cent on your fuel bill, while turning off the air conditioning can avoid drag. Switch on the Satnav rather than trying to guess where you’re going and you may well save miles of aimless driving.

Alternative fuels

Alternative fuels are often thought to be the preserve of environmental enthusiasts, but they do work and could save you big money if you’re prepared to put in the work and research to make it happen.

The Energy Saving Trust has information about a range of alternative fuels on its website, while and Dieselveg both offer lists of specific models that can be switched to run on veggie oil. And for those with strong stomachs, there’s always the Bio-Bug – a new car run wholly on human waste (and no, we don’t mean from your bin!).

If the above aren’t for you, then switching to a more fuel-efficient diesel engine could still see you saving big amounts in the long run, even if it is likely to cost more up front. The popularity of diesel cars has soared lately thanks to much improved technology and reliability, with sales actually overtaking those of traditional petrol cars this July for the first time, according to motor industry figures.

Electric cars

There have always plenty of questions about the viability of electric cars. In Spain it was recently reported that just 16 electric cars had been registered for use in the country over the first seven months of 2010 – despite a government-sponsored push to reach one million within four years.

To further fuel the doubters, the UK coalition government recently guaranteed funding for purchasers of electric vehicles, but attracted criticism from some environmentalists who claimed it would be substantially cutting its planned pot for electric subsidies.

Nonetheless, subsidies worth up to 25 per cent of the retail price will be available to those looking to invest in certain electric cars from the start of next year, up to a maximum of £5,000. Add to this the fact that a new raft of super-economical vehicles is due on the market in the coming year. Among those are Nissan’s Leaf and the Mitsubishi i-Miev – the latter of which claims to run at less than 6 per cent of the cost of a comparable petrol engine.

You can get a break down of how much you spend on petrol with our fuel cost calculator.


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Stephen Jones

Stephen Jones

Stephen Jones was a reporter for between 2009 and 2010, writing personal finance news and blogs. He has since moved on to MSN Money but continues to write for

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