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Tips for cutting your car fuel costs: car pool, watch your speed, don’t use air-con and more

There are many ways to reduce the cash outlay for keeping your car on the road - requiring not much effort and just a little forethought

The cost of filling your tank is on the up. Petrol and diesel will increase by 4 cent and 3 cent respectively in April and August. That’s on top of carbon tax increases of 2 cent to petrol and 2.5 cent to diesel in October.

So, until you’re ready to go electric, here’s how to beat the increases.

Multitask, not multitrip

You’re on your way home from work, but you’ll nip out again later for milk? If that’s your jam, you’ll pay a whole lot more for fuel than necessary. Cold engines burn more fuel than warmed-up ones, making short trips exceedingly expensive on fuel, says insurer AIG. Combining errands to a single trip will reduce your fuel costs.

Not so fast

Fast drivers have money to burn it seems. Driving at consistently high speeds increases the wind resistance your car must overcome and you have to use more fuel to do that, the insurer points out. Keeping to the speed limit will save money, and more importantly, save lives.


Smooth operator

Speeding up and slowing down – who does that? A moneybags who cares not a jot about rising fuel costs, that’s who. Constantly decelerating and accelerating consumes more fuel, says the AIG. Make a habit of accelerating gently, anticipating traffic lights, and coasting when possible.

When reducing speed, stay in gear, as this activates the fuel cut-off switch in fuel injection engines, resulting in minimal fuel usage when braking, according to the experts.

On the motorway, use cruise control if you have it. This way you keep a steady pace, minimising fluctuations in fuel consumption. Going on a road trip? Maintaining a consistent speed can make a noticeable difference to your fuel costs.

Under pressure

Underinflated tyres increase fuel consumption – basically, less-pumped tyres don’t roll as easily, making it harder for your engine to move the car. Topping up tyre pressure will help your car to run more fuel efficiently.

Air con cop-on

Air conditioning requires your engine to work harder, and so can greatly increase fuel consumption. When you first set off on a journey, open the windows for a few minutes to remove hot air in the cabin so your air conditioning doesn’t have to work as hard, says AIG.

If you’re driving through towns and cities, opening your windows rather than using the air con will save fuel., If you’re driving on fast roads, it’s better to use the air con due to the drag caused by open windows.

Take a load off

Do you drive around with a roof rack on? Or with heavy tools or golf clubs in the boot? That’s costing you. Removing unnecessary weight can lead to noticeable savings in fuel costs.

Shop around

On January 15th this year, the cost of a litre of petrol was 14 cent more at one south Dublin service station than another located just 4km away. Not bothering to deal with this will add about €10 to the cost of each fill. If you really want to save on fuel, shop around.

Car pool

School runs, after-school activities, football matches, birthday parties, work commutes? Every one of these trips is costing you money. Car-pooling for regular trips can drastically cut your fuel bills. Needless to say, it’s more environmentally friendly too.