DRIVERS are being hit hard at the pumps as fuel prices hit record highs.
This week the AA revealed that the average price of petrol had risen above 148p per liter for the first time. And the cost of diesel has soared to 151.57p per litre.
This means the cost of filling a family car’s tank is now over £80, up from £59 in May 2020 at the height of the lockdown.
With people already facing pressure on the cost of living, drivers need to cut spending to keep their wheels on the road.
Follow Simon Read’s thrifty driving tips to save hundreds of dollars a year.
Get cheaper fuel
Don’t just fill up at the nearest gas station. Find a local with the best prices.
Rod Dennis of the RAC says: “Get to know the fuel retailers near you and look beyond the supermarkets. Some independent retailers can also be cost competitive. Taking a quick detour to a cheaper forecourt can save you pennies per litre. More than 12 months of driving, this could represent a significant saving.
The average driver uses 880 liters a year, so a saving of 5p per liter could be up to £41.
Don’t travel too far. The further you drive, the more gas you consume, wiping out any savings.
SAVE: £41 per year
Make the car economical
THERE are a number of things you can do to make your engine more economical to drive, according to Alex Kindred of comparison site confused.com.
He says, “Take the excess weight off your car.
“Empty the trunk of items you don’t need and take out the bike racks to lighten your car.”
And don’t let the engine idle when the vehicle is stationary.
Alex added: “You’ll burn less fuel if you just turn off your engine.”
SAVE: £50 per year
Use the gas price app
USE apps and websites such as PetrolPrices, Waze and the AA app to find the best prices.
Ru Roberts of driving directions app Waze says: “Users can search for gas stations along their route and filter by distance, price or brand.
“We can also help motorists avoid the busiest freeways, so drivers don’t have to make unnecessary extra journeys.”
PetrolPrices estimates users can save £225 a year using its app.
SAVE: £225 per year
ADJUST the way you drive to reduce the amount of fuel you use.
RAC’s Rod Dennis says: “Avoid hard acceleration and braking, which burns more fuel than if you’re driving more fluidly.”
Drivers who anticipate hazards and maintain momentum also save money.
The more effectively you can anticipate changing traffic conditions ahead of you, the less you’ll have to brake and accelerate, and the less fuel you’ll pay.
SAVE: £50 per year
Find cheaper parking
LUCY SHERLIKER of auto finance company Zuto says, “A quick and easy way to cut costs is to find the cheapest places to park.”
Prices vary widely, but Zuto says Wolverhampton is the cheapest city, with an average cost of just £1.90 a day.
London City is the most expensive, at an incredible £53.80 per day.
But even within the areas themselves, prices can vary widely. In Birmingham, for example, prices range from £2 a day to £24. This could lead to a daily saving of £20 by finding the cheapest place to park.
Download the free AppyParking app to find the most affordable parking spaces near you.
SAVE: £20 per day
Share your engine
SHARING ski lifts and carpooling are simple ways to reduce the financial burden of travel.
If you’re driving to work, make sure there’s a colleague you can connect with.
Use mpg-calculator.co.uk to calculate the cost of your car journey.
The site estimates that a 50 mile return to work would cost around £8, so sharing it would save you £4 a day.
Do this every working day and you’ll save £20 a week, or around £1,000 a year.
SAVE: £1,000 per year
Save on vehicle tax
IF you don’t plan to use your car for a while and keep it in the garage, get a statutory off-road notification, or Sorn for short.
You simply tell the DVLA that your car is not parked or used on public roads.
This will save you from paying vehicle tax and you will get a refund for the remaining full months.
But you can’t use your engine on the road until you tax it again.
SAVE: £155 per year
Shop for insurance
NEVER automatically accept your insurer’s renewal quote.
Ask for discounts or a price reduction, then check with other companies to find out what they can offer you.
Simon Lancaster of broker SJL Insurance Services says: “Make sure you get alternative quotes for your car insurance and at least three quotes. This can often save you hundreds of pounds – and in rare cases, thousands.
SAVE: hundreds of books
If you’re already using your car less to save money and driving less than 7,000 miles a year, you could save even more by switching to an insurer that charges per kilometer.
James Blackham, of pay-as-you-go insurer By Miles, says: “You’ll usually pay an initial charge to cover the car while it’s parked, then a few cents per mile for what you’re actually driving.”
You will be given a “black box” to measure your miles and awards will be based on distance flown.
Comparison site Finder estimates drivers can save up to £258 a year by making the switch.
SAVE: £258 per year
Check your tires
INFLATE your tires to their correct pressure. The surface in contact with the road increases when a tire is underinflated and the greater the surface in contact with the road, the greater the drag of the wheel.
When checking your tyres, make sure the tread is above the legal limit – 1.6mm all the way around the tyre.
AA’s Tony Rich says: “Using the outer edge of a 20p coin to measure between the tread is a handy trick.
“Driving on badly worn tires can get you a hefty fine and points on your licence.”
SAVE: £50 per year