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Tips to save fuel as forecourt prices rocket

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THE staggering cost to fill up is piling pressure on household incomes already trying to find the extra cash for rising energy bills and higher food prices.

With the AA urging the government to take 10p in fuel duty off the cost of a litre of fuel immediately to rescue drivers from rocketing costs, the rapid rise in the price of petrol and diesel show no signs of slowing.

AA president Edmund King has also urged drivers to ditch their wheels where they can and walk or cycle to save money. The head of the breakdown organisation, which also wants the government to introduce a fuel stabiliser in the UK that could adjust fuel duty as prices go up and down, described this week's price rises as the 'worst week of pump pain so far'.

Households are feeling the pressure as outgoings rise
Households are feeling the pressure as outgoings rise

He added: "We would urge drivers at the moment to cut out shorter car journeys if they are able to do so, and walk or cycle to save money."

For those looking to desperately conserve the fuel in their vehicle – there are some things motoring experts say you can do to help your car motor for longer with the petrol or diesel you have remaining.

From not driving with the windows down to regularly checking tyre pressures and turning off the air conditioning, here are 11 ways to save fuel and money as prices rise.

Driving with the correct tyre pressures can help fuel consumption
Driving with the correct tyre pressures can help fuel consumption

1. Check tyre pressures

If you're aware your car is in need of some repairs it may not be an issue you can solve quickly – but running some basic checks on your vehicle can help your fuel consumption, particularly where tyres are concerned.

Ensure your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure, using the guide in your manual. Both underinflated and overinflated tyres can have an adverse affect on the amount of petrol you're using. And tyre pressures should also be adjusted depending on the weight of the load your car is carrying too – so if your vehicle is full of passengers and their luggage you may need to inflate your tyres to the maximum recommended pressures to aid efficiency.

Remove anything from your car that is making it heavier if you can
Remove anything from your car that is making it heavier if you can

2. Lighten your load

Removing any unnecessary weight your car is carrying, and making your vehicle more streamline, can help the fuel in your tank last a lot longer.

This might include taking down a roof box or removing the bike rack you like to keep on your vehicle for weekends – but don't need during the working week – or emptying the boot of heavier items or weighty equipment if you don't need to be driving them around with you each day. Taking items from the roof, such as boxes, bars or racks will also lessen the 'drag' the car experiences, which can also increase fuel consumption as your engine works harder to reach the speeds you wish to drive at.

3. Accelerate and brake smoothly

Don't pull away like you're on the starting line at Silverstone advises the RAC! Excessive speed is the biggest fuel-guzzling factor, says the breakdown service, so having a light right foot and ensuring that your acceleration is gentle and measured is always crucial to getting the most out of what is in your tank.

Driving with a sensible gap between you and the car in front, says the AA, will also cut down on the amount of sudden braking you could be forced to do.

4. Watch your speed

Driving in the highest possible gear for your vehicle while driving within the speed limit can help achieve the optimum miles per gallon, suggest motoring experts. In urban areas drivers are advices to change up through their gears quickly, with the lowest amount of revs possible. The faster the engine works and spins – the more fuel it is going to be using.

Depending on the type of car you drive and its size – motoring between 45 and 50mph, where safe and and legal to do so, is likely to be the most fuel efficient speed suggests the RAC.

Anticipate what is ahead where you can and avoid sudden braking
Anticipate what is ahead where you can and avoid sudden braking

5. Anticipate what's ahead

Alongside pulling away gently, and watching your speed, keeping the car moving at a steady speed is also really helpful when it comes to fuel economy.

This, of course, depends on the traffic conditions on the roads but constantly slowing down and then having to accelerate swiftly again will naturally use more of your fuel. If you can anticipate traffic lights or roundabouts that you know are ahead of you because you're familiar with the area then try and ease back on the accelerator and slow down naturally, which in some cases may mean you can potentially keep moving as opposed to coming to a halt and needing to pull away swiftly again.

And when slowing down remain in gear, as the fuel cut-off switch in a fuel injection engine is then activated, meaning that virtually no fuel will be used while braking says the RAC.

Driving up hills also 'destroys' fuel economy, say motoring experts, so if there's no straightforward alternative route then when you know you're coming to a hill try to accelerate a little before you reach it and then ease off as you drive up. The extra momentum can be helpful in minimising too much additional petrol or diesel consumption.

How can you make the petrol that you've bought last longer?
How can you make the petrol that you've bought last longer?

6. Avoid cruise control unless you're on the motorway

Cruise control, if your vehicle has it, can be really helpful when driving on a constant flat surface.

As one of the keys to saving fuel is to drive at a constant steady speed, switching on your cruise control is therefore best reserved for motorway driving, where you can leave your car in a higher gear and travel along without too much unnecessary acceleration. Doing so when you aren't on flat roads, you may find, only increases the amount of petrol you're using.

Pull those windows up! Driving with them down will cause the car to be less streamline.
Pull those windows up! Driving with them down will cause the car to be less streamline.

7. Dress for the weather – even inside your car!

Alongside roof boxes and bars, driving with your windows down can also create wind resistance and force your car to use more fuel. However using your air conditioning is also using engine power and therefore fuel consumption.

It's a fine balance when it comes to getting a comfortable air temperature, especially in the summer months when the air is warm and you may also have hayfever to contend with, but driving along with the windows down or the fans on full blast will use up the little petrol you may have, so try and dress for the weather even when you're sat inside your vehicle.

If you must use your air conditioning, says the AA, try and do so in short sharp bursts rather than for prolonged periods of time.

8. Combine journeys

Once your car engine is warm it will be most efficient, so even if the total mileage is the same, combining journeys can help fuel consumption.

If you have a number of errands to run and can combine them with your drive to work or the school run, rather than making a number of cold starts for your car from scratch this will help make the most of the fuel in your tank.

If you're stationary for more than three minutes the AA advises turning off your engine
If you're stationary for more than three minutes the AA advises turning off your engine

9. Select your sat nav app carefully

If you’re driving in an unfamiliar location use a sat nav to avoid going in circles and wasting running costs.

Sat navs can be useful devices, says Nick Drewe money-saving expert at WeThrift, when it comes to saving money by showing you both the quickest route to your destination while also working in real time to help you avoid getting stuck in traffic or through a diversion where you risk wasting fuel.

Some models can also select the most economical route to help you avoid fuel-stealing obstacles such as large hills or heavy stop-start traffic. Motorists will be pleased to know that there is a new ‘eco-friendly routing’ feature on Google Maps, which instructs drivers on the most economic route to take.

10. Turn the engine off where possible

If you're in traffic or waiting for someone and are going to be stationary for three or more minutes, the AA advises turning off the engine.

Many new vehicles come with a start/stop system now so leave that on if your car does have that feature. When a car is idling, the AA says engines will use more fuel than it needs to or – often in the case of older vehicles, they will need to work harder to ensure the engine and its systems don't overheat.

Loyalty schemes can offer people money off fuel
Loyalty schemes can offer people money off fuel

11. Use cashback schemes and loyalty cards

Nick Drewe, money-saving expert at WeThrift advises looking out for cashback schemes and loyalty rewards customers are often offered.

BP and Tesco both offer loyalty schemes where people can collect points for spending money while earlier this year Morrisons offered customers money off fuel if they spent £40 in store.

As the nation continues to grapple with the accelerated cost of living, these incentives can go a long way, he suggests.

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