Money-saving driving tips to keep those pounds in your pocket

5 Minutes

Driving is expensive and global finances aren’t in tip-top condition. 

We asked 1,000 drivers if they can share any handy tips to keep that wallet full for the most important things… these are the Top 5 pieces of advice for those who answered.

5. Choose an economic vehicle and treat it right!

To help you save money, you’re going to want to drive an economically efficient vehicle. What does this actually mean though? Well, of course it includes the initial upfront cost of the vehicle itself, along with the cost of refuelling/recharging it. But it might also include a few other things, such as how much tax you’re paying, how much you’re being charged for your insurance, and the cost of spare parts when things go wrong.

It’s all well and good having a cheap, old banger from eBay or Gumtree but the tax and fuel costs are likely to be higher due to poorer fuel efficiency… and if it keeps breaking down, the long-term costs will end up being much higher than the initial amount you paid for your vehicle!

Similarly, a Tesla might have efficient running costs but the initial cost of the vehicle on top of the insurance you’d have to pay actually make it an expensive option overall.

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

Not using your car’s air conditioning was voted the joint fifth money saving tip, which is no great surprise when you hear that having the air con blowing can increase your fuel usage by up to 10%. Keeping an eye on your air con usage is a particularly useful tip for short journeys because the energy used to bring the car to the desired temperature is what uses up your fuel. If you’re in the car for a longer journey, the air-con uses less fuel (relatively speaking), because once the desired temperature has been reached, it doesn’t use much energy to maintain that temperature. Basically, it's probably not the best idea to ban the air con altogether but it doesn't hurt to use it sparingly. There's definitely a balance to be had.

4. Pump tyres

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 detail what your correct tyre pressure should be and you may also find it on your car manufacturer’s website. Keeping your tyres at the right pressure can increase the economic efficiency of your car in two ways:

Fully pumped tyres create less friction and less ‘rolling resistance,’ so the tread will last longer than if your tyres are slightly deflated. Firstly, your tyres will last longer so you won’t have to buy so many sets. Secondly, there’ll be less friction between the car and the road so you’ll save money by being more fuel efficient.

3. Buy supermarket petrol

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 your while to use a fuel price-checking app to make sure you're getting the best bang for your buck. Check out the best fuel comparison mobile apps after reading this.

Having said all this, if you’re purely looking for money-saving tips and you don’t own a classic/super car, you’re probably better off paying the cheaper petrol prices at supermarkets.

2. Drive slow / eco-mode

30% of drivers from our survey wrote to drive slowly and use eco-mode. Having said this, the evidence isn’t actually as clear-cut as that and it hugely depends on what car you have.

Maintaining a consistent speed is really what gets you the greatest fuel efficiency when driving, which is why the city (stop/start) driving is much less efficient than being able to use cruise control on motorways and dual carriageways.

Actually, when it comes to fuel efficiency, 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.

Without going into too much detail, lower gears use more RPM to accelerate your vehicle 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, we should counter this by warning you not to change gears too early – moving up a gear too soon can make your engine drag, which isn’t a good thing. Hence, you should look to optimise when you change gear.

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

1. Bring your own food

58% of drivers from our survey had this as their top tip. Service stations notoriously charge motorists that bit extra for food and drinks. Making your own sandwiches at home before you leave can definitely save you a few pounds – monetary and otherwise. Fast-food chains always seem to have the longest queues at the Services, anyway!

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.

So, there’s our Top 5 tips to help you save money on the road. If you found this useful and you’d like to share it, remember to tag us @flowinsuranceuk on Facebook or Instagram and don’t forget the hashtag #GoWithTheFlow