How to keep costs down when driving

  Published 28th March 2024
We asked 1,000 drivers to share their money-saving hacks to keep those pounds in your pocket for the important things... these are the Top Tips to help you save money on the road.

What does this mean? It may seem obvious but to help you save, choose a car that’s both fuel-efficient and good value for money. So, weigh up the initial cost of the vehicle along with the cost of refuelling or recharging it. Don’t forget to also consider things like how much tax you’re paying, your insurance, and the cost of spare parts when things go wrong.

It’s one thing to find a cheap, old car on eBay or Gumtree but the tax and fuel costs are likely to be higher... and if it keeps breaking down, the long-term cost will end up being higher than what you paid for your vehicle in the first place!

Similarly, a Tesla might have efficient running costs but the initial cost of the vehicle on top of the insurance could make it an expensive option overall.

That’s why a car between the two extremes is normally your best bet. Most places you look will suggest the most efficient car to run in the UK (in 2022) is probably the Peugeot 208Other sites may choose cars like the Skoda Superb or Toyota Yaris Hybrid.


Keeping your car’s air conditioning switched off was another popular money-saving tip. This is no great surprise when you hear that having the A/C blowing can increase your fuel usage by up to 10%.

Keep an especially close eye on your air con on short journeys as the energy used to bring the car to the desired temperature is what uses up your fuel. If you’re in the car for longer, the air con uses less fuel (relatively speaking) because once you’ve hit your desired temperature, it takes less energy to maintain it.

While it may not be the best idea to ban the air con altogether, it doesn't hurt to use it sparingly.

Making sure your tyres are inflated to the right level is important, and it can vary from car to car. Your vehicle’s User’s Manual will tell you what your correct tyre pressure should be and you may find it on your car manufacturer’s website.

Fully pumped tyres create less friction and less ‘rolling resistance’ so keeping your tyres at the right pressure can increase the economic efficiency of your car in two ways:

1. The tread will last longer than with slightly deflated tyres - and if your tyres last longer, you won’t have to buy so many sets.

2. As there’ll be less friction between the car and the road, you’ll also save money by being more fuel efficient.

A lot of people looking to save money at the pumps just head straight for the nearest supermarket for their cheaper petrol prices.

Where you buy your fuel can make quite a difference and, from all the people we asked, this was the third most common money-saving suggestion.

It might be worth using a fuel price-checking app to make sure you're getting the best deal. Why not check out the best fuel comparison mobile apps after reading this?

30% of drivers from our survey mentioned driving slowly and using eco-mode. However, the evidence isn’t entirely clear-cut and it all depends on what car you’re driving.

Maintaining a consistent speed is really what gets you the best fuel efficiency, which is why all the stop/start driving in traffic is much less efficient than using cruise control on motorways and dual carriageways, for example.

In fact, when it comes to being fuel efficient, there are more important factors than just ‘driving slow.’ Firstly, make sure you accelerate smoothly. Secondly, try to change gear at the right time – this can depend a lot on the car you drive and its engine size. Try to optimise your driving technique for when you shift up or down a gear.

Lower gears use more revs per minute (RPM) so driving in higher gears will generally make you more fuel efficient (due to lower RPM and the fact you’ll be accelerating at a slower pace). But try not to change gears too early – moving up a gear too soon can make your engine drag, which isn’t a good thing.

The government’s produced a Rapid Evidence Assessment on fuel efficiency if you’d like to know more about this.

Service stations notoriously charge that bit extra for food and drinks. No wonder 58% of drivers from our survey had this as their top tip.

Making your own sandwiches at home before you leave can definitely save you time and money. And you get to have exactly what you want!

We suppose it’s all a matter of planning. So, if you don’t want the extra expense, remember to leave some time before your next journey to get your picnic ready.

That wraps up our top tips for saving money when you drive. 

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