Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Musings on Fuel Efficiency 2

We will start our search for money saving on fuel by looking at what we can do at the fuel pump to spend less, so here are some tried and tested tricks to fuel up the smarter way.

Shop smarter
The pump round the corner of your house may not be the cheapest, so shop around. You may save you a fair few quid, if you're willing to drive the extra mile or two. But beware, in your hunt for cheap fuel, don't drive around aimlessly for miles, the fuel spent driving may be more than the savings you will make in the end.

To save you some hassle, sign up to the daily newsletter here at If you're constantly traveling for work, there are mobile apps that will use your location to tell you the cheapest fuel within your vicinity. They will send you a daily email with a list of the 5 cheapest fuel stations within your vicinity. Hopefully that will shave a sweet penny (or 2) off the cost of fuel for you.

Use the right kind
I hate to break it to all of you wannabe boy racers, pumping your car full of Shell V-Power Nitro+ will:
  • give you negligible performance improvements (if any)
  • lighten your wallet by a significant amount
  • and who needs v-power fuel to go to buy milk and bread in a 1.2litre hatchback?
You will find that despite manufacturers for high end performance cars (I’m looking at you German car companies), recommending performance fuel, most cars do just fine on supermarket branded fuels.

Read your car's manual and find a balance between common sense and budget. Some people have had luck by cycling the better fuel once every two three weeks.

Time your pit stops
If you wait until the fuel indicator blinks on your dashboard, then you no longer have the luxury of waiting to find cheap fuel. Your vehicle needs fuel and you have to pay what the closest station demands. Plan your fuel usage for the week/month carefully, and go when you have a bit to spare (perhaps you can do this on the way to work or the school run or weekly groceries - so that you're not driving out and back home just for fuel).

On longer journeys, plan ahead. Where is your destination, do you know how to get there, do you have navigation aids (getting lost isn’t very fuel efficient), where during the journey can you stop for a break, can you refuel there if you need to?

Time your pit stops some more.
A common myth has it that visiting the fuel station early in the morning or late at night will get you more fuel than during the day. The science behind this may be sound, as fuel is stored in reservoirs underground, where it is cool. As the sun rises and the ground warms up a few degrees, the reservoirs warm up too and the fuel expands ever so slightly. A cold litre of fuel is more densely packed in molecules, than a warm litre as the molecules are less dense. So the theory is that you get less for your money when you buy the warmer fuel.

Science fiction or science fact? I cannot test this hypothesis accurately, so I’ll leave this one open to suggestions.

Play the supermarket sweepstakes
Competition is rife. Years ago, only petrol stations sold fuel and even then they were far and few between. Now though, supermarkets seem to be competing to lure customers in with both groceries and fuel all in one place. And it makes perfect sense to use them. But it gets better.

To lure customers in to spend even more, supermarkets will knock off xx% off your fuel price, if you spend a certain amount in-store.

Tesco have throughout 2013, given 5p off a litre when you spend a certain amount, and this is stackable. So do a months worth of groceries (thats 5 trips from the store to the parking lot to put the bags into your boot), and 5 receipts of £50 shopping, to knock off 25p per litre of fuel. Needless to say, do this when you have less than a quarter tank of fuel left, fill the tank in the car and take a fuel can with you and top that up for another 10 litres. Score!

Currently Morrisons have a 1p off for every £10 gift card you buy from them. Hmmm, you could use this for Christmas gift shopping (or just give gift cards) and get cheap fuel too (they are stackable). Keep your eyes peeled for discounts like this throughout the year.

Do you have any further advice for our readers, please let us know in the comments. 

This is part of a series on fuel efficiency and money saving on motoring fuel. Keep your eyes peeled for the next part in the series with further tips on getting you saving you money on your fuel expenditure.

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