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The Ultimate Guide to becoming a Cost-efficient Driver

Simon Barker

Save on tyres, save on fuel… drive smart. Nobody ever said that running a car is cheap but there are things you can do to save money when driving.


Fuel consumption has a lot to do with the car you are driving, but whatever car you drive there are ways and means of saving fuel, saving money and cutting pollution.

Drive smoothly, always accelerate and decelerate smoothly. Look at the road ahead and take action early.

Avoid stopping and starting, keep moving. When approaching a queue or traffic lights, slow down early and smoothly.

Keep the revs down below 2,500 rpm, change up on or before this mark. When the engine is working hard at higher revs than normal, fuel consumption will leap up.

It’s not an old wife’s tale. At low speeds, using your air conditioning increases fuel consumption – open your window instead. And remember to use your air-con once a week to keep the system in good working order.

Turn off anything that uses electricity when you don’t need them.

Stick to the speed limit. Driving at 80mph can use up to 25% more fuel than driving at 70mph.

Don’t coast downhill to save fuel. You are not in full control of your car and therefore not ready to handle sudden hazards.

Take time to research the cheapest fuel in your area – we all put the same stuff in our tanks.


Look after your car. It’s false economy to cut spending on servicing and maintenance. You should get your car serviced regularly for best efficiency. Depreciation can be minimized by taking good care of your car. Always use the right specification of engine oil which will be described in your handbook.


We’re all guilty of this! Check your tyre pressures regularly, especially before long journeys. Under inflated tyres will cause you car to use more fuel.

Buying second-hand tyres to save money is probably not a good idea. There are many pitfalls described in this article from the BBC News. Millions of second-hand part worn tyres are sold, most of them illegally, having many serious defects and incorrect labelling. Before you buy second-hand tyres, check that they bear the required “part worn” marking, which means that the tyre has been checked and meets legal requirements.

Before a trip

Remove any items you don’t need, heavy or not. Extra means extra fuel. If you don’t need that roof rack, take it off. Extra drag will increase your fuel consumption.

Don’t start the engine until you are ready to go… then go. Idling wastes fuel and your engine warms up more quickly when the car is moving.

Scrape ice off the windows, don’t leave your car idling. Make sure you know your route, getting lost will waste fuel.

For a short trip, ask yourself if you really need to use the car.


In 2018, it will pay you to be smart about how and where you park. Are you prepared to use a slightly less convenient parking spot? You could save yourself over £200 a year. Give serious thought to using private parking spots, they are far cheaper than the big chains. And conversely, if you don’t use your own driveway, you could rent it out and earn £200 a month.

Insurance and tax

We all have to pay car insurance and tax, but you will pay more or less for different models.

Low insurance can save you hundreds of pounds a year – here is a guide to the cheapest cars to insure from Auto Express.

The RAC states that it is a myth going third party is always cheapest. Sometimes selecting fully comprehensive policies works out cheaper because you are considered a lower risk.

Finding a car that is cheap to tax is often very high on the list of requirements when choosing your next used car. The lower the CO2 emissions, the lower the road tax. Here is a useful guide to the different vehicle tax rates.


When you have made a mental note of all the excellent points made above, then consider this. One of the best ways to save money is to avoid using your car altogether. Many of the car journeys made in the UK could be avoided by using other means of transport, including your legs!

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