How to control your petrol costs

03 November 2014 ( 17 August 2016 )

Petrol prices recently dropped to their lowest level in years as the cost of oil tumbled. So it’s a good time to try and drive down your petrol costs even further.



Oil continues to be pumped way above global demand, meaning wholesale fuel prices have come down in recent months.

As there is now plenty of margin between wholesale and retail costs, supermarkets have slashed prices at the pumps – and there is speculation that prices at forecourts across Britain could go lower still.

Although the major cost of motoring has plummeted, the cost of putting petrol in your car still remains a burden for many households. But there are ways of keeping your petrol costs down if you follow a few simple steps:

Drive more carefully to cut down your fuel consumption

A simple way to save fuel is by driving more economically. Lowering your speed is one easy way to do this.

Figures from the Driving Standards Agency show that driving at 70mph burns 30 per cent more fuel than at 60mph.

Other useful tips include accelerating smoothly and not braking too heavily. Try to let the car slow down in gear as you approach traffic lights and roundabouts, rather than approaching at full throttle and having to break. 

How to drive more economically

Pay attention to the gears

The higher the gear, the lower the revs, and the lower the fuel consumption - right? 

Usually, yes, but only if you're changing at the right time. Going up a gear to quickly can labour the engine, and increase fuel consumption.

Make your car lighter to cut down fuel consumption

Further savings can be made by not filling your tank up, as the extra weight you’re carrying around will burn more fuel; consider filling it up just halfway instead.

However, this can be a balancing act; bear in mind that the more petrol you put in at a time, the fewer trips you need to make to the petrol station. Try to keep an eye on your fuel so that once it starts to approach empty, you stop at a petrol station en route, rather than waiting until you're running on fumes and having to go out of your way to fill up quickly. 

Also remove roof racks and take other items you don’t need out of your boot to minimise fuel consumption; not only do these add weight, they also interfere with your car's aerodynamic design.

Your car is deliberately streamlined in order to minimise drag and cost you less in fuel; anyone adding flags to their car during patriotic times (during the football world cup, for example) will end up paying more than usual to stay on the road. 

Keep the air conditioning off as much as possible, and bear in mind that even driving with the windows down will increase the drag. 

10 things you (probably) didn't know about petrol stations

Shop around for cheaper petrol

Log on to petrolprices.com and enter your postcode to find the cheapest options on fuel in your local area.

With this free-to-use site, you can mean you can be sure of getting the best deal when you fill up your tank.

Take advantage of supermarket petrol deals

In the latest supermarket price war, Asda, Morrisons and Tesco have all been lowering prices at the pumps in a bid to offer the cheapest petrol and diesel, so take advantage of these great value forecourt prices.

Nectar card holders can also potentially get money off on petrol, depending on their spend on certain other items in-store at Sainsbury's.

And it's worth remembering that with certain credit cards you can benefit from cashback on fuel.

8 ways to reduce your supermarket food spend

Use your car less to save on petrol costs

It's an obvious fix, but you could try to consciously reduce the number of journeys you need to make. This might mean combining errands when going out in your car, or sticking to just one big weekly shop.

Try walking – or cycling – rather than taking the car to help save on petrol.

How to save money in the summer

Car-share to save on petrol costs

You could go ahead and sign up to a car-sharing service, or consider lift-sharing with people with your friends and neighbours.

Find out more about car sharing to cut the costs of motoring


For more tips and useful information, browse our motoring articles

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.