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cutting your car costs

saving money on fuel

Wise Running - In this section we look at how to cut the costs of running your existing car.


First on the hit list has to be fuel costs. Most of us drive to a 'usual' local petrol station by force of habit, but this could be costing up to a couple of hundred pounds a year.

More than likely, within just a few miles of your home, petrol prices will vary by up to 10p a litre. Often the biggest differences are between town centre and rural locations. You can check the price range in your area at PetrolPrices.com

A few pence a litre doesn't sound much, but even an average car will use over 1,500 litres of fuel in an annual 10,000 miles. These days that's at least a £1,750 cost. So watching the price boards and trying to use the cheapest places will add up to a useful amount of extra cash in your pocket.

That said, don't drive miles out of your way for a couple of pence a litre, but see if you can spot if one place is generally cheaper than others and plan ahead so you can take advantage of the best prices when you need to.

Avoiding short journeys is another fuel-saver, as engine starts use up fuel more quickly and, when running, cars only reach their most fuel efficient when properly warmed up.

Making sure your car is properly maintained can also cut your fuel bill. Make sure essential fluids are kept topped up, the car gets a regular oil change and the air filter isn't clogged and dirty.

Is your car running smoothly or does the engine stall, stutter or cut out? Getting a tune up might cost you a few tenners but, if the car needs it, could make a difference of 15-20% in fuel economy, handing you a big regular saving.

Making sure your tyres are properly inflated can also help. Under-inflated tyres mean more friction and more power needed to get around.

Try to drive for economy - drive as smoothly as possible, going easy on the accelerator, getting to the highest gear as quickly as possible, without straining the engine. Minimise stops, starts and heavy braking by looking further ahead. You don't have to drive everywhere slowly, but making small changes to your driving style will hand you a saving.

Use air conditioning sparingly - it saps engine power and means you use more fuel. Same goes for the car's other electrical devices - don't leave things switched on that you don't need.

Finally, avoid carrying around piles of junk you never need in the boot. More weight means more fuel being burned when you accelerate. For the same reason, remove that roof box when it's not being used.

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