0345 811 9595

Mon-Fri 9am to 5.30pm

How Driving Better Can Save You Money

Even with petrol and diesel prices as low as they are at the moment, you can still find yourself wondering where your money has gone when it comes to paying for fuel. There are a lot of things that you can do to not only get your fuel economy up and keep your fuel spending down, but also keep your wear and tear down on your vehicle.

It is all down to you

There is no magic ingredient that you can put into your fuel to make it go further, even if someone says there is, and driving around lots of petrol stations to find the cheapest fuel only uses fuel, increases wear and tear due to inner-city driving and saves peanuts. So make the use of knowledge that you can glean from sites such as fuel-economy.co.uk, the AA, and from this blog to save yourself some money, not just now but, as a lot of changes are to driving style, also in the future. 

Top Tips to Save Money

Driving in the City at NightDrive smooth and easy 

You know when you see someone at the lights revving their engine before accelerating away from them to show that they have a more powerful car than anyone else on the road? You probably think that they are being an unrepeatable word, but you can sit there safe in the knowledge that all that accelerating and braking is going to cost them more in fuel because it can waste it by up to 60%, and that by accelerating away from a stationary position smoothly that you can save yourself money in fuel economy. 

And they will also have to face the cost of fixing the car once they (in all likelihood) have an accident due to their foolish behaviour!


When you are driving, try and see what is up and coming on the road ahead, and react to it. By this we are talking the likelihood of traffic lights changing, or a car in front indicating to turn or maybe park. Slowing down and not necessarily stopping will save fuel, but obviously if you need to stop it is better to come to a smooth one rather than slamming on the anchors! If you can keep the car moving all the time, so much the better; stopping then starting again uses more fuel than rolling.

Gear Use 

This can save you up to 15% of your fuel bill. By making sure that you are in the right gear for the situation, and by changing to a higher gear as soon as it is safe to do so, you will be making some serious fuel savings. Your bank account will not thank you for trotting along the city streets in a low gear.

Try changing up at an engine speed of around 2,000 rpm in a diesel car or around 2,500 rpm in a petrol car as this can make a big difference. So much so, in fact, that many cars in the future are likely to be fitted with a 'Gear Shift indicator' light to show when you should be changing gear in order to achieve maximum efficiency.

Motorway Driving at nightSpeeding 

Contrary to what some people will tell you, the faster you drive on a motorway doesn't necessarily save you money. It will save you time, obviously, but not money. According to the Fuel Economy website, "doing 80mph on the motorway will use between 10% and 20% more fuel than doing 70mph, and doing 70mph will use between 20% and 30% more fuel than doing 50mph."

This means that on, for example, a 20 minute motorway journey, travelling at 80mph will save you about 2 minutes, and cost you more in fuel - and that's not including the fine you could get for speeding!


We are all aware that under-inflated tyres increase fuel consumption and the wear and tear on the tyre itself, yet how many of us check our tyre pressure regularly. It is recommended that you check them at least every two weeks to make sure that they are at the correct pressure as recommended by the owner's manual for the weight that they are carrying.

Air Conditioning 

Great in the summer months, but at other times? Running the air con uses fuel, and running it when you don't actually need it wastes fuel. So if you need to keep cool in the non-summer months (or whatever DAY summer falls on in the UK this year!), then use the blowers rather than the air con. And don't drive with the windows open if you are doing a decent speed as this increases the aerodynamic drag which, you guessed it, will result in more fuel wastage.

Warming Up The Engine 

On those days when it is icy, and the windscreen and other windows are frozen over, it is normal practice to turn the engine on and turn up the warm air inside the car to 'defrost' the car and 'warm up' the engine. DON'T! It wastes fuel, it adds wear and tear to the engine in a stationary position and it gives thieves and opportunity to jump into a nicely warmed up car and drive off with it complete with the keys. Instead, get yourself some decent de-icer to clear all windows and drive off straight away.

Traffic Lights ChangingShort Journeys 

Another thing that we all know is that when it comes to short trips, fuel is wasted with the initial burst taking a lot of the impact - in fact, a cold engine will generally use twice as much fuel as a warm engine. So if you need to pop to the shop for a pint of milk, sugar or a paper, use those long things that are connected to your hips. By walking, you are saving fuel, and you are also exercising and doing yourself some good as well. 

If you do need to use the car for short trip, then combine them to make full use of the time out. A trip to the tip, then the supermarket and then the paper shop will actually save fuel in the long run.

Looking after your car 

A lot of this blog seems to be pointing out things that we all know, but we all ignore or just shove behind the sofa in our minds. It is stating the obvious that a "well-tuned engine with fresh, clean oil and new air filters will run more efficiently than an engine that has been neglected", so don't ignore the fact. Keeping a car well serviced, either by yourself, a reputable garage, or the car manufacturer's recommended garage, in the recommended service schedule time period, will help you get more out of the fuel you buy.

Lose Weight 

Don't worry. You needn't be giving Slimming World a ring yet. We are talking about your car. Take a look in the boot and take out stuff that you don't need, especially if it is heavy. Think: do you really need a set of golf clubs to visit Grandma and will you be using the baby's pram on that business trip to Cardiff?


If you have a roof rack or box attached to the car, does it need to be there all the time? While it is sat up there, it adds to the wind resistance and the aerodynamic drag, which increases fuel usage.

Using a Sat NavTrip Planning 

A journey planned is a gallon saved - or can be. If you are going somewhere unfamiliar, try and plan ahead, because getting lost will make you travel further and use more fuel. And maybe if the trip is that short (say, a couple of miles) then maybe you could use the bike that you promised yourself you would use more - but never did!

Think electric? 

It might even be an idea to get an electric car and save even more money on fuel. Obviously, electric cars aren't, at this moment in time, for everyone, but it might be for you - especially if you are taking shorter journeys frequently. There are questions to be answered such as "can you plug it into the mains without running a cable across the pavement?" and "is it the right car for what I use it for?", so check out our Blog here and maybe take a look at the 'Green' cars on offer at Nationwide Vehicle Contracts here.

And, as a final idea...

with tongue firmly in cheek, how about buying (or leasing) a supercar like a Lamborghini, a Ferrari FF or a Rolls Royce Phantom Saloon? They are costly to repair and will use fuel like it is going out of fashion, so it will stop you using it for the school run and a quick trip to the shops. You will also not want to park it anywhere it is likely to get damaged, and they are a bit of a nightmare to park anyway, so it will stay on your drive as you and your children walk everywhere. This will lead to you living longer and healthier lives, save you loads of money on fuel and allow you to spend the money saved on other things.

To check out what you could be spending on fuel, take a look at our Fuel Calculator, and at our Fuel Economy Guide to see more ideas on how you could save money whilst driving.