How to save money on fuel

These days, fuel costs can make up a big part of our weekly expenses. With the price of Petrol or Diesel seemingly going up each week, most of us are looking for ways to drive more efficiently and save money. Here are ten tips to making the most of every tank.

1. Buy at Dawn or Dusk

Believe it or not, fuel expands and contracts in hot and cold conditions. During a frosty morning fuel is in its densest form which means you actually get slightly more combustible matter with every litre. Buying fuel first thing in the morning or very late in afternoon or at night will save you a little bit of money and increase your driving range.

2. Discount Vouchers

If you do your weekly shopping at one of the bigger shopping outlets such as Coles or Woolworths, you'll be able to use your docket or rewards card to save a few cents per liter when you fill up at the applicable petrol station.

Coles is usually Shell and Woolworths is usually Caltex. You can also become a member of Costco, which is a large bulk-buying shopping outlet that also has fuel stations. Members are offered special benefits and cheaper prices.

4. Check Prices - Online, Radio

Prices per litre can differ quite drastically from fuel station to station. Even stations across the road could have pretty big price differences. The best way to keep on top of them all is to use the internet.

There are many websites that allow you to search for the cheapest fuel price in your area. It's a great way to know you're getting the best going rate of the day, so long as you don't have to venture too far out of your way to get to the station. Some of the bigger radio programs in the morning usually talk about the cheapest prices during traffic reports as well.

5. Drive Efficiently

You could save money on fuel simply by changing how you drive. Limit taking off quickly in your car. The engine requires much less fuel when you accelerate and drive gently. If you're driving a fairly modern car, it might have multiple 'driving modes' you can select.

These could have an impact on your fuel consumption, so make sure it's set in its most efficient mode, usually called 'eco', ''comfort' or 'everyday' using 'sports mode' will likely use more fuel.

Lastly, plan your day and minimise trips. If you can compile all of your errands into one journey you could conserve fuel and save money.

6. Follow the ACCC Fuel Price Cycles

It used to be said that fuel prices were lowest on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, as this was the day before a new delivery of fresh fuel arrived.

In recent years, fuel deliveries have been much less predictable. In response, the ACCC has developed it's Petrol price cycles website, to help consumers predict if petrol will rise or fall over the next 7 day period.

It could be a good idea to check this website before you go and fill up with a full tank of fuel, as you might find that waiting a day or two (if you can wait that long) could see the prices come down. 

7. Keep Your Car Maintained

Sticking to a regular servicing schedule not only minimizes the chances of mechanical breakdowns, your car also runs a lot smoother and more efficiently when it's running on clean and correct oil.

The injectors that spray fuel into the combustion chamber also become dirty and don't spray correctly after time, causing the engine's computer to over-compensate and spray in more than what is needed.

8. Tyres

Tyres are the only thing between your car and the road. Different tyres and different pressures can have a profound effect on rolling efficiency.

Make sure your tyres are in good condition and are set at the certified pressure. If this means learning how to check and fill tyres, do it. It's simple. Tyre pressures are normally set to between 32 to 34 psi, but always check the certified rating which is usually stamped on the inside of the driver's door. If your tyres are a little flat, it means your engine has to work harder to push your car along.

You could pump the tyres up above their certified value but the ride becomes uncomfortable and your tyre performance could be impacted. Thousands if not millions of dollars were spent engineering your car to get it right, so it's best to stick with the settings that have been tried and tested.

It's best to check pressures soon after leaving your house or work too, as tyres eventually warm up after a decent drive and the pressure naturally increases due to the expanding air inside. If you check them straight after a long drive the pressure could be around 5psi higher, or more.

9. Empty Your Car of Burdens

Do you really need to lug around all of the contents in your boot or on the back seat? Remove anything that is not needed. Heavy items weigh your car down. Imagine walking around with a heavy backpack every day. Your engine has to work harder to carry things too. Even small items can add up if you have a lot of things. You could save money if you keep your car as empty as it can be.

10. Car Pool

If your daily commute goes anywhere near a work colleague's or colleagues' house, car pooling could be a great way to save money. It can be especially economical if you're traveling a decent distance between home and work, for example, and there are two or three of you that all live in nearby areas. Alternating drivers from week to week means you might only use your car once every third week.

11. Buy a More Economical Vehicle

It might seem like a costly expense to start with, but after time, owning a more efficient vehicle could save you in the long run. Modern vehicles are getting more and more efficient and more lenders are offering discounts loans for green cars. 

Manufacturers have to meet tightening emission and fuel consumption laws,which means they have to hone their engineering and come up with innovative technologies to reduce fuel consumption on their vehicles.

Running around in an old car can seem like a cool idea, but for daily commuting old cars chew through more fuel compared with modern ones. If you keep a newer car maintained and follow all of the steps above you could save on your fuel costs.