Car costs

We have put together some tips to help you save money when you use a car.

Driving styles

  • Drive smoothly - you’ll use less fuel if you maintain a steady speed. Avoid sudden stop-start movements by braking or accelerating smoothly – save up to £250 pa.
  • Drive in the right gear - driving in the appropriate gear should help your car’s engine work more fuel efficiently.
  • Change gears efficiently - Change gear at around 2,000rpm in a diesel car or around 2,500rpm in a petrol car to put less strain on your engine and use less fuel.
  • Slow down - driving at 56mph on the motorway uses 25% less fuel than at 70mph.

Make your fuel last longer

  • Warming up - don’t leave the engine running for five minutes before driving to ‘warm it up’. It’s a waste of fuel. Drive gently for the first few minutes of your journey instead.
  • Avoid unnecessary engine use - switch off your engine if you are likely to be at a standstill for a long time. New cars are being launched with stop-start facilities that reduce fuel consumption by up to 10%.
  • Get ready - put your seat belt on, check your mirrors and tune the radio before you switch the engine on. Fuel used while you’re carrying out these actions is wasted.
  • Air conditioning - air conditioning increases fuel consumption, so if you can, keep it switched off and save up to 10% fuel consumption.
  • Parking - reverse into a parking space. Driving forwards after switching the engine on will use less fuel – save up to £100 pa.
  • Fuel price - the price of fuel can vary according to where you buy it. Look for the cheapest places to buy your petrol or diesel before you need to fill up. If you sign up to, this free website will compare fuel prices at almost 10,000 petrol stations around the country.
  • A full tank - you don’t need a full tank of fuel all the time. It will make the car heavier and use more fuel.

Getting the best from your car

  • Check oil level - check your oil once a month and before long journeys. This helps to keep your engine running smoothly and may help avoid expensive bills on potential repairs.
  • Pump up your tyres - poorly inflated tyres put more strain on your engine and burn more fuel. Make sure your tyres are inflated to the correct level and regularly check your tyre tread. Under-inflated tyres can reduce your fuel economy by up to 10%.
  • Reduce your load - more weight equals higher fuel consumption. Declutter your car and remove anything you don’t need to avoid carrying extra weight. Remove unnecessary items from your car, like tool kits in the boot, can increase fuel economy by up to 5%.
  • Make your car more aerodynamic - Close your windows and sunroof when driving - the less resistance your car has, the less fuel it will consume. Unless you absolutely need it, for the same reason, if you’ve got a roof rack attached, remove it. They can increase your fuel consumption by up to 30% – save up to £200 pa.
  • Service your car regularly - it may cost you money to have your car serviced, but there are cost savings to be had in running costs.

Purchasing the right car

  • The right size of car - do you really need a big car? For example, do you need an estate car, or could you manage with a smaller car and hire a larger one only when you actually need it?
  • The engine - it’s easy to only think about a petrol-powered car when you purchase your vehicle. What about diesel, hybrid, LPG, biofuel or an electric car?
  • Go green - convert your (petrol) engine to run on liquid petroleum gas (LPG). It costs less than unleaded and diesel, costs 77 pence per litre (on average) and conversion costs range from £1,000 to £1,500.