According to RAC Fuel Watch, petrol prices in the UK have hit a three year high. We’re now paying more to fill up our cars than at any time since 2014, with the cost of unleaded up to £1.21 and the cost of diesel rising to £1.23 a litre. This increase in fuel prices is being driven by a rise in the cost of oil, which has now also peaked at the highest level since May 2015. So, are we stuck paying higher prices for motoring fuel now that the costs are rising – or is there a way to cut the cost?
Five ways to cut the cost of your motoring fuel
Choose your petrol station carefully
Where you buy your fuel could actually have a big impact on how much you pay for it, as individual petrol stations have discretion over how much they charge.
Find a busy petrol station – the more petrol they are selling, the more deliveries they are getting and the more likely they are to be able to sell fuel at a cheaper price.
Choose a petrol station surrounded by plenty of others – if your petrol station is the only one for miles around then they are likely to charge a lot more than a petrol point that is just down the road from the competition.
Opt for a big petrol station – like any other product, petrol is a wholesale purchase and it tends to be the bigger players who are able to negotiate the best deals.
Avoid petrol stations in pricing hot spots – very rural areas, expensive cities (such as London), airports and motorways are where you’ll find the highest petrol prices. Opt for somewhere more middle of the road – the suburbs or a provincial town – and you’re likely to get a much better deal.
Check the pressure of your tyres – if it’s too low then this will increase the drag on the car, which will mean it consumes more fuel.
Ditch the roof rack – your car has to work hard to power forward with a roof rack attached as a result of the wind resistance. Taking the roof rack off can improve fuel efficiency by 10%.
Don’t use the aircon unless you really need it – air conditioning is a gas guzzler so, if you want your car to consume less fuel, then keep it off unless it’s really necessary.
Change the way you drive – amazingly, you can save around 30% on fuel costs if you change your driving habits. Avoid too much stopping and starting when you drive, try to slow naturally, as opposed to using the brakes, and accelerate smoothly without over revving.
And if your monthly budget will allow investigate whether changing your car to help you save fuel costs in the long run makes overall financial sense.
According to PetrolPrices.com you could save more than £220 a year by using its petrol price comparison website. It’s free to sign up and provides a breakdown of average fuel prices by location and by brand. You can sign up for price alert emails, use the website or download the app to find the cheapest petrol station along your route. The app is a particularly useful tool, as it means that you can avoid buying petrol at motorway fill up stations when on the road, which are often some of the most expensive.
Get your fuel from the supermarket
Supermarkets can be a great place to fill up, as their prices are often some of the most competitive. This is especially so as you’ll often find a supermarket petrol station in an area where there are lots of other petrol stations – so there are some great discounts available if you buy fuel where you shop. It’s also worth looking into whether your regular supermarket loyalty scheme offers you any discounts on fuel. For example, some provide discount vouchers for petrol – the best way to use these is to pick them up when you’re buying what you’d normally purchase from the supermarket. Avoid a situation where you’re buying more just to get the fuel vouchers, as it could end up being cheaper just to buy the full price fuel.
Buy your fuel with a cashback credit card
With the cashback that you earn you can reduce what you pay for the fuel that you buy. However, to ensure you get the gain from this you’ll need to clear the balance on the card every month to avoid paying any interest on the balance (as this would most likely outstrip the cashback saving).
Alex Hartley is a keen advocate of improving personal finance skills. She's worked at Solution Loans since 2014 and written hundreds of articles about how people can manage their money better. Her interest in personal finance goes way back to...Read more about Alex Hartley