/ Money, Motoring

Have you taken action to cut your fuel bills?

Angry man on fuel gage

Running a car isn’t cheap. Once you’ve paid for the vehicle itself, along with car insurance and tax, there’s the not so small issue of fuelling it. Have you taken any steps to make your fuel go further?

As a car journalist, covering many miles at the wheel of a car every week is part of my job. It’s important for the Which? Cars team to spend enough time driving each test car on a wide range of roads and traffic conditions, so that we can include the pros and cons of each in our reviews. And that means spending a lot of money on fuel.

That’s not done without thought, though. Whenever possible I’ll drive to the cheapest garage in the area to buy a tankful. I won’t rack up extra miles by going out of my way to use a cheaper filling station, but I will plan ahead and fill up in cheaper spots – Surrey is pricier than south east London, so I’ll stop on the way through.

Save fuel by driving more efficiently

When it comes to driving my own car, I’ve become far more conscious of the fuel economy I’m achieving in the past few years. I keep the boot as empty as possible, and check tyre pressures regularly.

In general my 1.2 petrol Renault Modus is quite frugal – it averages 45-50mpg. But that little engine struggles and has to be worked hard at motorway speed. And that means it drinks far more fuel: around 35mpg at 70mph, compared with 55mpg at 56mph.

So when I had to make twice weekly trips around the M25 three weeks in a row, I soon found myself pulling into the slow lane to stop the fuel gauge dipping quite so quickly. Driving slower than most of the other traffic around me was far more demanding, and at times extremely scary, especially when HGVs pulled up close behind wanting me to speed up rather than make them change lanes to overtake me.

I persevered, but only for the sake of my bank balance. If I’d not been concerned about the cost of fuel, I would have been sorely tempted to speed up so I’d have to make far fewer lane changes and speed past the juggernauts rather than have to dice with them.

Have you taken any measures to cut your fuel consumption, or reduced the number of miles you cover to save money?

Comments
Member

Since I retired I have been able to plan my driving to visit two or three places rather than making separate trips. That can save a lot of time, not just fuel. I share transport with one or two friends if we are travelling to the same meetings.

Often I drive at 65 mph on motorways, which saves fuel. I have always avoided driving at busy times if possible, though safety and avoiding stress are the main reasons. My diesel car averaged 55 mpg over winter and will do 60 mpg when the weather is warmer.

Member
Nigel Soames says:
26 March 2014

I live in France where the motorway speed limit is 130km/h (80mph). At that speed my petrol just evaporates. I now drive at 100km/h (around 60mph) and it seems to last for ever… There is a “sweet spot” at around 55mph where engines are most efficient.

I actually find it less stressful driving a bit slower. You just have to allow more time for getting there!

Member
Andy Sharp says:
26 March 2014

Happy for you to drive at 55-60 in France; please stay there to avoid clogging up our roads with your mobile traffic obstruction that probably causes lorries to over take you, thus causing further reductions in available lanes for the rest of us.

Member
Nigel says:
26 May 2014

Lorries mostly do around 90km/h here so no, they do not need to overtake me.

Have you always been this unpleasant or is it just when you sit at your computer screen?

Member
Rosie says:
26 March 2014

We’ve had no choice, or we wouldn’t be able to pay for essential bills and food. So my partner has to sleep on the floor of his elderly parents’ lounge 1-2 nights every week in order to cut down the fueld bill (despite him being middle aged himself, so not the best thing for his health on an ongoing basis!). Moving from this area to the more expensive area his company relocated him to is not an option (and especially after they had previously relocated their workforce to this area from another area before that!).
If the time comes when my partner can no longer sleep on his elderly parents’ floor, or petrol prices go up again (while our net income is continually going down), the backup plan is that he will have to keep a sleeping bag in the office ….!
But, of course, “We”re all in this together”!

Member

You’ve presented a good reason to make sure that you buy a car fit for purpose. A R Modus is strictly a city car. Once you’re on open roads its pathetic engine doesn’t have the grunt to cruise frugally at the speed limit. For driving on open roads you are far better off with a 1.6 l diesel than a 1.2 l petrol and in town it will be just as frugal.

Always choose good tyres too. They may be a bit more expensive, but the correct tyre will last thousands of miles longer, provide better consumption and be quieter. They’ll pay for the additional cost.

Member

I’m lucky to have a couple of outlets nearby that sell autogas (LPG). My essentially petrol 1.4 Astra which also runs on LPG costs in fuel 10p per mile to run with LPG at 71p per liter. And that’s a normal everyday urban cycle. I get even better mileage on a long run.
Better than the best smelly, noisy, injector clogging. particulate filter clogging MOT failing diesel.
Can’t understand why LPG didn’t take off better.

Member

For LPG to be a success, it would need to be much more widely available than it currently is in the UK.

Member

I agree with Wavechange. The government have shown little interest in encouraging LPG conversions. Look at what they are doing for electric cars by subsidising the cost of new cars, heavily subsidising the installation of charging points (including private charging points outside your own home), and then look at what they have done for LPG. It’s obvious why LPG is not popular.

I can see that one day electric vehicles will become a sensible choice, but until storage and/or portable generation makes a technological leap, conventional engines have the day. Likewise with LPG: if the government subsidised the conversion to LPG and installation of LPG refuelling points at every garage, then we would probably convert.