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How to save fuel in your car: money-saving tips for 2022

Rising petrol prices are hitting motorists hard, but these cinch-verified tips can help you reduce your car petrol bills - and improve your driving while you're at it

Petrol and diesel prices have reached record highs in 2022, putting an added strain on motorists at a time when living costs are also on the rise. But, thankfully, there are things you can do to improve your car's fuel economy, reducing the number of times you need to visit a fuel station. So, below, we've provided some of the best ways to improve your miles per gallon and make your life on the road that little bit easier.

Drive more efficiently

Don’t worry, it’s not about driving at a snail’s pace – going slow can often mean lower gears and higher revs. Instead, simply driving smoothly is better for your fuel consumption. In fact, most cars return the best economy at around 45-55mph. Driving too fast or too slow on a road where it’s legal and safe to travel at a higher speed can be detrimental to fuel efficiency.

Of course, it’s always best to drive at normal, legal speeds. But try to time gear changes to perfection, never rev madly to accelerate and avoid harsh braking by looking ahead and anticipating traffic conditions. See congestion ahead? Ease off the accelerator and slow naturally, rather than keeping the power on and braking close to the queue. Choose the highest gear you can as often as you can and take your foot off the accelerator as frequently as possible.

Keep your car maintained

A car isn’t a living thing, so it won’t always tell you that something’s not right. For a car to operate as close to the peak of its efficiency as possible, it’ll need to be serviced by a reputable mechanic according to the manufacturer’s required schedule. Even tackling mechanical jobs like cleaning spark plugs and changing the engine oil can help fuel economy. If you’re thinking of buying a car from us, cinchCare can be a great help in this regard.

Lighten your loads

Imagine you are walking long distances – you certainly wouldn’t want to carry anything you didn’t absolutely need for that journey. Yet most car owners carry lots of unnecessary things - from spare walking boots, fold away seats to map books. Many drivers keep things in the boot, glovebox or door pockets. You might have a roofbox or bike rack fitted that you only use once a year. If you don’t absolutely need it, why are you paying to take it everywhere with you? Extra loads like these can cost you a few pence in every pound spent at the pumps.

Consider the weight of fuel

Here’s one to ponder: you could save perhaps 1% of your fuel consumption by only half filling your car – because of the added weight of carrying a full tank of fuel. Of course, if you have to drive 20 miles to fill up that saving may be undone by cost of the extra miles. Nevertheless, it’s worth considering whether visiting twice as many times and half filling will save you money overall.

Use fewer gadgets

Every extra bit of power used by your car can make a small difference to fuel consumption. Sound systems, heater blowers and even lights may have a tiny negative effect on economy.

Most of us will consider those devices essential – but there's certainly a time and a place for them. Take air conditioning, for example. At low speeds, try opening the window instead to save that extra bit of fuel. Watch out though – at higher speeds, open windows and sunroofs have an even greater detrimental effect than air-con by adversely affecting aerodynamics. So it’s about choosing what’s right to do at the right time.

Check your tyre pressures

This is easily one of the most common causes of poor fuel economy in cars. The wrong pressure in a car’s tyres can be unsafe, speed up the rate at which they wear – and it can make your car use too much fuel. Ever pedaled a bicycle with nearly flat tyres? It’s a right old workout. It’s the same thing when it comes to underfilled tyres on a car. Best to keep an eye on pressures with a proper gauge, and make sure they’re topped up correctly as per the car manufacturer’s handbook.

Plan your route carefully

The most fuel-efficient roads aren’t slow city streets or quiet country roads – they’re motorways. They give the best chance of staying at a smooth constant speed in your highest gear, avoiding harsh braking and hard revving. It’s why satnavs often suggest using a motorway for a route even if it adds a few miles to the total journey.

Also, consider that a warm engine is much more fuel-efficient than one starting from cold. This means that one longer combined journey is better for your pocket than lots of little ones.

Find the cheapest garages

The difference between the highest and lowest fuel prices can be as much as 10%. That means you could save a tenth of your fuel bill by shopping around for the best prices.

It’s not as easy as it sounds though. Forecourt prices for different fuels change constantly due to the global market and local competitors. The easiest way is to check your location with a specific comparison tool, and these are readily available online. Of course, it’s best to avoid driving too far to save a few pence, because the added distance can quickly offset the saving at the pump. And be sure to plan journeys so you are never forced to fill up in a captive, high-price environment like motorway services.

Supermarkets often offer the cheapest fuel and vie with each other to compete for trade, hoping you will shop there, too. Don’t believe the myths about supermarket fuel quality – it’s the same stuff as other forecourts. And note that supermarkets usually offer loyalty point schemes. Happy days.

Switch to an electrified car

Even if you're not ready to go fully electric yet, hybrid cars make for a great middle ground. Thanks to their use of electric motors alongside petrol or diesel engines, you're not entirely reliant on battery power. But, crucially, your engine's workload is significantly reduced, meaning it'll use much less fuel. There are three main types of hybrid car: mild hybrid (MHEV), hybrid and plug-in hybrid (PHEV). The first is basically a petrol/diesel car with a tiny electric motor to slightly improve fuel efficiency, the second gets a bigger electric motor to have a bigger saving effect. While the third uses the most electric power, saving the most fuel and even offering the ability to drive for as many as 50 miles with the engine off. As the name suggests, you need to charge a PHEV up overnight to achieve its best - but the result can be more than 100 miles per gallon of efficiency.

Handily, cinch has all types of hybrid cars - along with plenty of efficient petrol and diesel cars, and electric cars - available for delivery or collection. If you're sold on the prospect of swapping to something that uses less fuel, you'll find plenty of options to consider in what's the biggest range of cars to buy online anywhere in the UK.

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