FIRST PUBLISHED: November 5 2015
FULLY UPDATED: 2017
Jessica St Pierre
Having a car to get from A to B each day is a luxury that we’d miss if we didn’t have it, right? Driving enables us to visit new places, escape the cold, wind and rain (all too frequent in the UK), see family and friends and carry our shopping home with ease. But with driving comes unavoidable car costs – and sometimes it can be a little more expensive than it needs to be.
So, instead of spending more than you need to on your car, follow the 6 steps below (don’t worry, they’re all simple), help the environment and start saving for that all-important holiday you’ve been wanting to go on.
- Clear out the junk in your trunk. We’re all guilty of keeping unnecessary items in our car. We forget they are in there and it just starts to pile up, doesn’t it? But the more junk piles up, the heavier the car becomes and the harder it has to work – costing you more money on fuel! Have a clear out of everything you don’t need that’s in the boot (remember to keep your emergency essentials in there: blanket, water, energy bars, torch…) and avoid making your car work harder than it needs to.
- Quit the air con (but only when you need to). It’s easy to leave the air con on all the time in the car, but it all too easily uses up your fuel. So instead, get some fresh air in the car by opening the windows when you’re driving around town and it’s a nice day or you need to cool down a little. However, if you’re going over 40mph on the motorway or if it’s windy then it’s actually best to use the air con because the wind will make the car work harder and slower. It’s all about the balance!
- Turn three little trips in to one long trip… and plan! It might sound like organisation has no relevance to saving money on fuel and helping the environment, but by planning your trips properly you can do both. If you find that you are going to need to make short trips throughout the week then try to combine them in to one big trip. Your engine has to work harder each time it gets ready for a short trip, especially in the winter when it’s cold. Plus, if you run your errands in one long trip, you’ll have more time for fun stuff! And when it comes to long or unfamiliar journeys, plan your route beforehand and save money (and the environment).
- Stopping and starting does not save pennies. Sitting in rush-hour traffic that’s moving slowly is not anyone’s idea of fun, and it’s especially wasteful of your fuel. Stopping and starting your car or accelerating and decelerating hard rinses your fuel. Instead give yourself a more enjoyable, smooth ride by slowing down the pace of your acceleration and deceleration. Avoid leaving your engine on if you’re not moving too; it wastes more fuel than you may think and releases unnecessary emissions into the air. Protect your purse and the planet.
- Check your tyre pressure. Checking your tyre pressure should be done regularly. While often seen as an afterthought, checking your tyre pressure could help you get more miles per gallon, so it’s important to do it at least once every two weeks. The lower the pressure of your tyres, the more fuel your car needs to work. In addition to saving you fuel and money, checking your tyres is an important safety procedure!
- Don’t speed. If you’re a new driver then it might be tempting to try and show off to your friends, or to go as fast as you can. But aside from being extremely dangerous (and extremely illegal), going as fast as you can – even within the speed limit – actually costs you more money than you might think. You might get to your destination 10 minutes quicker, but you’ll also use more fuel – so slow it down.
Driving doesn’t have to be expensive and small changes in your habits can produce big savings when it comes to cutting your car costs. Try out the steps above and see how much fuel and money you save, and without even knowing you’ll be making a huge difference to the environment. It’s a win-win situation!