10 expert driving tips to make your fuel last longer as petrol prices soar

According to research from The RAC, fuel prices have soared by 10p already this year.

The automotive experts at  Xcite Car Leasing have shared 10 simple driving tips to help your fuel last longer, save money, and avoid a £2,500 driving fine, to help drivers combat the price increases.

  1. Check your tyre pressure to avoid reducing your fuel economy by 5% and getting a £2,500 fine

One check you should do more regularly is to check the tyre pressure. This is because tyres that are not inflated to the correct level can reduce your fuel economy by as much as 5%. It’s recommended if you are driving a lot that you check your tyre pressure around once a month.  Having the wrong tyre pressure can also lead to a £2,500 fine according to the Highway Code, so it’s best to check before a journey to avoid this.

  1. Keep your windows closed if travelling over 40mph

The more aerodynamic your car is, the better the fuel economy will be. Having your windows open increases drag on the vehicle and creates stronger wind resistance. In general, having your windows open at lower speeds doesn’t have a massive impact but if you are driving over 40 mph it’s recommended to close them.

  1. Turn off the air conditioning, especially when travelling at slower speeds

Using your air conditioning, or heating on colder days, requires engine power so will have an impact on your fuel consumption. This is especially true if you are travelling at low speeds. If it is a particularly warm day, it’s recommended to use the air conditioning on a low setting over opening the window, as the effect on your fuel consumption is less.

  1. Avoid Idling – you can waste 2.3L in an hour 

An idling engine is still burning fuel. If you are in slow-moving or stop-start traffic, consider putting your hand brake on and turning your engine off. The same applies when picking someone up or dropping someone off, consider shutting off the engine if you are stopped for a long period. Idling for an hour can waste half a gallon of fuel or around 2.3 litres.

If you have a modern car with stop-start technology then use this, it will automatically reduce the time you spend with an idling engine if used correctly.

  1. Remove unnecessary weight from your vehicle 

The heavier your vehicle is the more fuel it will take to move it. If you are travelling with a roof box, bike racks or excess luggage, make sure you remove it when you have arrived at your destination to avoid using more petrol. 50kg of extra weight can increase fuel consumption by 1-2%, so best for efficiency to remove everything you won’t be using that day.

  1. Keep to the speed limit 

Speeding can increase your fuel consumption, and of course, be dangerous to yourself and other road users. Keep to the speed limits and use cruise control if your car has this function to maintain a steady speed. It’s recommended you set your cruise control a few miles below the actual speed limit in case your odometer is slightly off.

  1. Clean or replace your air filters

Dirty air filters cause your engine to work harder than it has to, which means more fuel is used. With the filters being blocked from dirt, it can affect fuel consumption by up to 10%. You should follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to change these as needed to help boost your fuel economy. Air filters should need changing every 12,000- 15,000 miles. A clean air filter can improve the acceleration of your vehicle, as dirty filters mean there isn’t enough air getting to your engine therefore reducing power.

  1. Make sure you regularly service your vehicle 

Regular maintenance and servicing on your vehicle keep it in the best condition possible and this in turn helps your fuel consumption. It’s recommended to ensure the vehicle is serviced in line with the manufacturer guidelines and any maintenance work is completed as soon as possible, especially if you are travelling on long journeys.

  1. Accelerate and Brake Smoothly

Harsh acceleration and braking use a lot of engine power, which uses more fuel. Not only is this better for the environment to brake and accelerate smoothly, but it’s also better for your fuel bill. One way in which you can avoid the need for harsher acceleration and braking is by anticipating the traffic ahead.

If you’re on a road that you know has several traffic lights over a short distance or in a long queue of traffic, rather than stopping and starting try travelling at a lower speed, this keeps your vehicle rolling and removes the constant stopping and starting that you might otherwise use.

  1. Make combined journeys 

A hot engine is a more efficient one because your battery works better in warmer conditions. One way that you can improve your overall fuel economy is by combining several smaller trips into one longer journey.

Spencer Blake, Director of  Xcite Car Leasing commented on the increase in petrol prices already this year: “A lot of people are looking to save money right now with the increase in petrol prices already in 2024. These simple hacks are a great way to cut costs at the petrol pump. Smooth acceleration and braking are the obvious ones, but we also recommend anticipating traffic lights and slow-moving traffic, rather than flooring it between each stop. These small driving adjustments can have a positive impact on both your fuel consumption and bank balance.”