Aussie motorists spend an average of $2,300 on fuel each year.
That can gouge a big hole in your hip pocket. Check out our 18 simple steps to put the brakes on fuel costs, letting you enjoy more time on the road for less.
Fuel prices change from day to day, and there’s no single day when it’s cheapest to fuel up. The good news is, plenty of apps show where the action is for cheap fuel.
Government apps and websites like NSW FuelCheck, MyFuel NT, and FuelWatch show fuel prices based on information received directly from retailers, so they’re usually pretty up to date. Other apps like MotorMouth and GasBuddy often compile data based on details reported by users so they may not be as current.
Some apps like the 7-Eleven fuel app, let you lock in the price of fuel for up to seven days. Great if you think the local 7-Eleven is offering a good deal. Just don’t let it stop you shopping around for the best deal at the bowser.
You can also map out your journey and look for the cheapest fuel on your route. But if you have to go out of your way, do your maths to decide if the pursuit of cheaper fuel is worth it or not.
When you open the fuel cap, a little bit of fuel evaporates (our heart breaks too), it's not much but it all adds up. Rather than topping up with $10 here and there, fill ‘er up each time and run it down to a reasonable (not tow-truck worthy) level before returning to the service station.
If you shop at the big supermarket chains, your groceries can generate fuel savings. Coles and Woolworths own a majority of the petrol stations and offer discounts on fuel when you shop with them. As long as you spend over $30 at Coles or Woolies, you could save anywhere between 4-12 cents a litre at Shell or Caltex depending on the promotion.
And you know how they always ask if you have Flybuys or Everyday Rewards? Well, it's totally free to join and by downloading the apps and boosting offers from time-to-time, you could make some big savings or earn bonus points, helping you save up extra $$ for Christmas. So go ahead and scan every time you refuel.
Your driving style has a major impact on fuel consumption. Help your car be a sipper, not a slurper, by driving smoothly.
Putting the pedal to the metal for rapid acceleration or hard braking can increase fuel consumption by as much as 40%. Go easy when it comes to freeway cruising too. If you’re a lead-foot, next time consider that if you’re speeding (not only are you breaking the law) you could be burning through more fuel than necessary, driving at 110 km/h sees your car chew through 25% more fuel than 90kmph. So don’t put your foot down too firmly and potentially save a bit of money AND make your mum happy by going a tad slower. It’s a win-win for us!
Keep in mind that even just 8km/h over the speed limit can burn up to 23% more fuel. Save your fuel and your demerit points by keeping your speed down.
It's just a myth that putting your car in neutral and coasting down a hill will save fuel. By keeping it in gear, you won't use any fuel, and if you maintain steady engine revs you’ll pick up speed, which will have you in a good position to use the momentum to either tackle an uphill run or keep whizzing along without having to use significantly more pressure on the throttle.
A car should be serviced every 10,000-15,000 km or every 6-12 months.
The trouble is, only around one in two car owners give their cars this much attention – and it can mean a super-sized fuel bill. Regular servicing keeps your car chugging along smoothly without guzzling fuel.
Keeping your car serviced regularly also means you’ll avoid a hefty car repair bill, and the need for a Nimble car repair loan!
Make a habit of checking tyre pressure. Every 1% drop in pressure sees an 0.3% uptick in fuel consumption. So, if your tyres are 20% below the recommended inflation, you’re using 4% more fuel.
Over-inflating tyres won’t lower fuel consumption, but it can lead to uneven wear. The bottom line is, stay close to the recommended level of inflation.
In addition, older tyres may have less traction which can affect rolling resistance and fuel economy. So always check if they need maintenance or replacing before you take the car out for a spin.
Making regular one-off trips to the corner store can be an expensive habit. That’s because it takes time for your car to reach optimum running temperature when the engine is most efficient. Combining short errands will help you save on fuel.
If you are flexible with time and are able to commute whilst avoiding traffic, you’ll not only have to stop and start less but you’ll also spend less time idling in long queues.
If you're a little tech-savvy, open up Google or Apple maps and type in your destination, it will usually provide congestion advice, and also suggest a more fuel-efficient route to where you are going. It might just save you a few extra dollars.
Heading to the snow? Going camping?
At times like these, roof racks are super handy. Just be sure to remove them when they’re not needed. Roof racks create drag, something car manufacturers spend an arm and a leg on each year trying to reduce.
In fact, studies show the drag created by empty roof racks can add an extra $120 to your annual fuel bill.
When a car’s wheels aren’t properly aligned, the engine has to work harder to keep moving.
That extra energy comes straight out of the petrol tank. Have the alignment checked every 10,000km or twice a year to keep your tyres wearing evenly and cut fuel costs.
Hot summer days can turn your car into a mobile pizza oven.
But try to go easy on air-con. In stop/start city traffic, having the air-con blasting can chew through 20% more juice.
However, if you are travelling at high speed, using your air conditioner is actually more fuel-efficient than opening the window which can create aerodynamic drag.
If you have a more modern car, it may be fitted with onboard equipment designed to monitor fuel efficiency.
If you're driving one of these cars, keep an eye on how your driving behaviour and traffic conditions affect fuel consumption.
If you’re trying to save on fuel and those stats are quite high, it's definitely time to reassess the way you drive. If you're competitive, this may get a little obsessive trying to beat the fuel gauge and keep the consumption average low.
The heavier your car is, the thirstier it becomes. Clear the boot of heavy items when they’re not needed.
Been carting around golf clubs? Leave them in the garage.
Using the boot to store boxes of unwanted stuff? Take them to the op shop
Got a dead body in the back? Well, that’s a whole other story.
When it comes to which fuel to pump at the bowser, it's not always best to grab the cheapest type in order to save some dough.
If your car is designed to be operated with premium and you decide to use regular, you can expect slightly lower performance and fractionally higher consumption. Likewise, if you choose to use premium in a car that is supposed to be operated with regular, it may provide better fuel consumption in some newer vehicles, but it's unlikely to offset the extra cost of the fuel.
Letting the engine run when you're not driving is just a countdown timer for an empty tank. Most cars don't need warming up unless it's below -20℃ (which is never in Australia) so turn the car on and start off slow rather than idling.
Being organised can help you save money too! Set your GPS or hands-free before you leave and don't turn the key until you have sorted yourself out (this includes that lippy refresh in the mirror)!
When you're waiting or loading/unloading, turn the engine off while you wait rather than leaving it to idle.
It will save fuel and also friends, by avoiding choking everyone outside with your car exhaust.
It may seem like a more expensive option to start with, but after time, a more efficient set of wheels could save you a whole heap of cash in the long run.
Modern vehicles are getting more and more cost-effective. The makers have to meet tighter emission and fuel consumption laws, which means they are engineering and coming up with innovative technology to reduce fuel consumption in their vehicles.
Running around in an old car can be cool for a while, but daily commuting old cars can chew through their fair share of fuel.