Churchill magazine

How to reduce the cost of driving by saving fuel

Updated on: 13 September 2023

A blue car drives through a country road at sunrise.

Three times world champion Formula One driver Jackie Stewart has been quoted as saying that we should ‘Drive like the world’s finest chauffeur’, and he’s right. Driving a car properly and economically is all about smoothness. Sudden acceleration, braking and not anticipating what the traffic is doing costs petrol.

Dr. Dick Turner’s book, Energy Conservation Through Advanced Driving Techniques, asks drivers to imagine that an egg is positioned between the foot and the accelerator pedals. So don’t make too many omelettes.

How can you save on fuel?

Whether you're driving petrol, diesel or electric, these tips will help you cut your fuel usage and save money.

Clear out the clutter

The more weight a car has to move around the more fuel it uses. Clear out the boot and interior of unwanted clutter. Also, be sure to remove any unused roof rack or trailer – you will get fewer miles per litre with a fully loaded roof rack.

Plan your journey

Time spent getting lost and finding your way again will waste fuel.

Tyre pressure

Check that your tyre pressures are as the manufacturer recommends in the car’s handbook. If the pressure is 4-6psi below the correct pressure fuel consumption suffers by 2-3%.

Turn off

If you are stationary in traffic for more than a minute turn off the engine. Not only are you doing no miles to the litre at idle, subsequently restarting the car uses less fuel.

Get going

Modern cars do not need to be warmed up. Start the car and move off ASAP.

Don’t stick in lower gears for longer than needed

Start the car and get into the highest gear you can as soon as possible. Some modern cars will indicate the need to shift up, so take that advice.

Only use what you need

Every ancillary component that you switch on, whether it is the radio, air conditioning or electric windows drains power and fuel. Air-con is the major culprit, so really think about if you need it on.

Service your car

Sounds obvious, but skimping on basic maintenance means that the car will be operating much less efficiently and that means poor fuel consumption. 

Calculate your consumption

You won’t know if your new driving style and practices are working unless you know how many litres you get per mile. Some cars may have on-board computers, which are not always accurate. First fill the tank, zero the trip meter and note the mileage. Go on a long journey, 50-100 miles. Fill the tank again and note the amount of litres taken. Finally divide the number of miles driven by the amount of fuel used.

Remove roof racks

Roof racks and boxes cause drag and your car’s engine will have to work harder to move the car if a roof rack or box is in place.

Shut the windows

Open windows and sun roofs also cause drag and result in the engine working harder and burning more fuel.

Car share

Try not to take more cars than are necessary. Share cars and take it in turns to pick each other up.

Consider economical cars

When the time comes for you to sell your car and look for another one, consider more economical models. It could save money in the long run.

Slow down

The faster you drive the more fuel you use. Slow down and cut your fuel usage.

Group your journeys

Rather than going out, coming home and going out again, group your journeys together to cut down on the time you’re out on the roads. It takes more energy to get a car moving once it’s stopped and you may even find you save on your car insurance by cutting down on your average annual mileage.

Avoid rush hour

Rather than leaving home and sitting in traffic for hours, leave a little earlier or later if possible and try to miss the rush hour. As well as reducing your journey time and so reducing your fuel consumption, you’ll also arrive a little less stressed.


If you’re not going far why not leave the car at home? Not only will you be saving fuel, but walking is brilliant exercise too.

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