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Fuel prices: getting the most mileage for your money

How you can save money on petrol, diesel, and charging your electric car.

Last updated on 19 May 2023 | 0 min read

Since brushing £2 per litre back in 2022, UK fuel prices have come down a bit – but we all know prices aren’t as low as they used to be.
Whether they go back to those (comparatively) low prices in unclear, but the average price of petrol dropped to 162.75p a litre over the course of April, while diesel stayed at 177p per litre all month. Both of those are down from the peak fuel prices of 188.76 pence for petrol and 196.96 pence for diesel recorded in July 2022, but that’s small comfort given the higher costs of living all round. Rather than track prices at the pumps, we want to give you some actionable, everyday tips on how to bring your fuel costs down all year round so you can save money where it matters.

How much does it cost to fuel a car?

Overall, the cost of fuelling your vehicle depends on four key factors:
• The price of fuel • The type of fuel you use • Your vehicle’s fuel consumption • The way you drive

The price of fuel

The price of fuel is up globally due to a number of factors. Global supply issues have driven the wholesale price for crude oil up, which means the price of petrol and diesel has gone up too.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much we can do as individuals to control the price of fuel. We can, however, shop around. Petrol and diesel prices vary between providers and around the country, so the following tips could help you save money here and there: • Supermarkets often run petrol promotions and offer fuel vouchers to shoppers. Run the numbers and see whether you could save by using their pumps instead. • Keep up to date with your service schedule. A car with clean oil and fresh filters will run more efficiently and, while you’ll have to pay for servicing, you’re less likely to get a big bill down the line if your car is well-maintained. • Look for cashback schemes. Supermarkets and petrol stations alike now offer loyalty cars to encourage returning customers. Generally, you’ll get points every time you buy fuel – and those points add up before they’re swapped for discounts.

The type of fuel you use

Similarly, there isn’t much you can do about the type of fuel you use in your current car – unless you’re looking at a new car.
If you’re looking for a more fuel-efficient car here are our top choices to get you started. By driving a diesel, you get more miles per gallon than in a petrol car. But diesel is more expensive than petrol, so you’d need to be a high mileage driver really see the benefits of choosing a diesel engine. Petrol drivers have to factor in the switch to E10 fuel. While the price per unit is the same, E10 fuel is less efficient so you may find yourself filling up more often. And if your car isn’t compatible with E10 fuel, you’ll have to switch to more expensive super-grade fuel. Those of us reliant on our cars have little choice but ride it out, but there are ways to manage your money and get the most out of your tank.

How to get maximum miles to the gallon

One thing you can control, to an extent, is your vehicle fuel consumption and the way your drive.
Driving more efficiently generally means you use less fuel. Some reports claim you could cut fuel costs by up to 30per cent by watching how you drive. Key to getting the most out of your tank is to drive mindfully – really think about your road position, stay alert and plan ahead so you can move steadily and get the most out of your engine. • Try to not over-rev when you speed up. Instead, accelerate slowly and press on the pedal more firmly to get the same speed using less power and less fuel. • Drive in as high a gear as possible, without labouring the engine. • If it’s safe to do so, let your car slow naturally (using its weight and stored momentum) rather than tapping the brakes. • Keep your tyres inflated, as lower tyre pressure increases the drag on the car and so requires more fuel. • Remove any unnecessary weight ahead of your journey, including any junk in the boot and (if you’re not using it) the roof rack. • Removing the roof rack can also reduce wind resistance and decrease drag – improving fuel consumption. • Turning air conditioning off unless it’s needed. Generally, you’re better driving with the air con off and windows open at a low speed. If you’re at a higher speed, open windows could cause too much drag so air con might be the best bet. This will vary depending on the car and driving style. There's more advice on fuel efficient driving here.

How to calculate fuel cost per mile

To work out the cost per mile in pence, multiply the fuel price by the number of litres you’ve put in the tank, then divide this by the number of miles you get.
• Litres x Fuel price / Number of miles To budget ahead and work out your annual running costs, multiply that cost per mile by your average annual mileage and divide by 100. • Cost per mile x Average mileage / 100
Charging an electric car

Cost of electric

Wholesale electric prices have risen, and homeowners are facing higher bills in light of the energy price cap increasing.
There’s advice on managing your electric bills available from a range of trusted sources, and financial advice available from Citizen’s Advice and Money Helper (the new site from Money Advice Service), so we’ll focus purely on your electric car. From how to charge it, to getting the most out of your charge, you have a couple of avenues to explore.

How to maximise range for EV drivers

There are a few ways to extend your electric car’s range, the best will depend on your driving style and where you’re driving:
• As with a petrol or diesel, try to maintain a constant speed with smooth, even starts. Avoid speeding and unnecessary fluctuations in speed. • Drive slowly, tapping into the regenerative braking to add charge by braking when necessary (don’t slam the brakes, it’s dangerous – look at enabling the car’s maximum regenerative setting) regenerative braking can help maximise your available range and the lifespan of your mechanical brakes. • Most electric cars have an ‘eco’ mode, which will limit acceleration and top speed, and increase the amount of regenerative braking, so engaging this will give you a few more miles. • Turn off any unnecessary features (like the radio, heated seats, air con) and save the battery for driving. • Minimise weight in the car, as extra weight can drain a car’s range. • Carry a charging cable. Not all public charging points provide cables, so keep one in your car in case you’re caught without.
Cheap ways to charge your electric car
• If you can, get a home charging point installed. Charging your car from home is usually one of the cheapest ways to fill a car, even with rising energy bills factored in
• Depending on which tariff you’re on, you could cut your electricity bill down further by charging over off-peak hours • Find free charging points near you using our charging point map, just keep in mind that there will be queues and that free public chargers tend to be slower (7-11 kW on average), so they’re best suited for topping your battery up
For more guides and advice, visit our cars on a budget page.