Cost of living: Top tips on how to make petrol last longer - including watching your speed and no short trips

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The cost of living crisis still has drivers feeling the pinch, despite petrol prices gradually beginning to ease - here’s how to make a tank of petrol last longer.

The cost of living crisis has most of us looking to save money wherever we can, and it’s no secret that cars can be a money sink. Keeping your vehicle tip top with regular maintenance, services and MOTs can really add up, and that’s before even factoring in the price of fuel.

Petrol prices shot up last year, but are now finally taking a dip as inflation slows. Inflation fell slightly to 10.5% in December from 10.7% in November, according to the Office of National Statistics, with falling fuel prices helping UK inflation ease back again.

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That being said, as food and energy prices remain at record rates, it’s handy to know how to make a tank of petrol last as long as possible. Experts at A-Plan Insurance have shared their top tips, from watching your speed to avoiding short trips.

Watch your speed

The RAC says driving at 45 – 50mph is the most efficient speed for fuel consumption, not the ‘56mph myth’ many have been adhering to. According to the Department for Transport, driving at 70mph uses up to 9% more fuel than at 60mph and up to 15% more than at 50mph. 80mph can use up to 25% more than at 70mph. Use cruise control for motorway driving if you have it.

Watch your gears

Change up and down multiple gears at a time and change to the highest suitable gear as soon as you can to avoid over-revving. The AA advises against coasting, where you engage ‘neutral’ or drive with the clutch held down, deeming it unsafe and unlikely to save you any fuel.

Accelerate and brake gently

Developing a smooth driving technique is a great way to save on fuel. If you’re approaching traffic lights, for example, slow down early so that they may have changed by the time you reach them, meaning you might not need to stop at all.

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Anticipate the road in front of you and ease off the throttle and maintain momentum rather than braking hard and then accelerating again.

Remove weight and reduce drag

The drag from carrying extra weight reduces your car’s fuel efficiency, so remove any unnecessary items from the boot, and remove your bike rack or roof rack when you don’t need it. A heavier car needs more fuel to keep it moving.

Use aircon less often

Using aircon can increase fuel consumption by around 10% according to the AA. Opening your windows (or lowering your soft top) is a cheaper option.

Maintain your tyres

Check your tyre pressure at least once a month. Under-inflated tyres burn more fuel. If tyres are eight pounds under inflated (not an uncommon condition), rolling resistance of the tyres increases by five per cent.

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Regular services

Keep everything in tip top efficient condition. Replace oil, air and fuel filters at the recommended intervals.

Avoid short trips

If you are taking short trips, it’s even more important to switch off that aircon as it will use most of its energy for the initial cool-down.

Avoid traffic hotspots

Idling consumes around 0.6 litres of fuel per hour. A vehicle with a stop/start engine is recommended if you are frequently stuck in jams. Google Maps can be a fuel saver by pointing out routes that are congested and offering alternatives that keep you moving.

Upgrade your car

A new car isn’t an option for many right now, but some may be in a position to update their vehicle. With the rising cost of fuel, investing in a newer car, not necessarily brand new, will immediately save you a fortune in fuel – as well as reducing your road tax.

If you are in the market for a replacement vehicle, and not ready to go electric, diesel generally provides better fuel economy than their petrol equivalents.

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