Practically every time I visit a petrol pump now I gasp when I see the prices. The psychological barrier of £1 a litre has been well and truly breached, with some forecourts flogging it for up to 119p a litre. Ouch!

At least there are a few internet gadgets out there to help. is one of a handful of websites I’ve stumbled across which help you track down the cheapest petrol prices in your area. All you have to do is type in your postcode and a number of possibilities come up. Although, to be fair, they’re not always that helpful. Apparently the cheapest petrol pump near us is at an Asda supermarket, which currently charges 106.9p a litre. Great. The only problem is it’s over 4 miles away and it’s not in an area that we tend to visit anyway, so I’m not sure it’s worth the journey. Perhaps instead it’s time to adopt some fuel efficient driving techniques.

Luckily we drive a 1.3L Micra which is pretty cheap to run, if not the height of driving chic. The older 1.0L version we used to have was even more efficient but just couldn’t cope with the hills where we live. Oh…and there was the small matter of my driving it into another car in our station car park and ruining the entire passenger wing, but I’m sure you don’t want to hear about that…. This model is better, well, as long as you don’t have anybody too traditionally built sitting in the back and we rarely have anybody else in the car anyway, not having children or relatives nearby. And it’s surprising how much stuff you can fit in the back – something we discovered while doing up our house and spending lots of quality time in B&Q. While you won’t get a shed in the back of one, we’ve managed to fit pretty much everything else in there.

The Micra does have air conditioning, though, which eat fuels so we should stop using it. After all, it’s hardly needed in this grotty weather anyway! And I also need to stop driving like an Essex boy. Accelerating and braking hard, as er…I tend to do sometimes, apparently uses up lots of petrol. And the best top speed to do is 45 to 50 miles an hour because anything over that is less fuel efficient. Despite all the hard braking and revving, I’m not a speed freak and tend to drive at about 50/55 on national speed limit roads anyway, much to the annoyance of the big black SUVs that always seem to be driving behind me. I should also turn off the engine while stationary for long periods in heavy traffic as experts say this helps prevent wastage too. Not a problem, as I already stall for Britain…

Adopting the right gear for the right situation also promotes fuel efficient driving. Hmmm…something else which needs work. I often blame the Micra’s sticky gears for being in the wrong gear – fifth instead of third, etc. but I think the problem is really down to user error. And make sure you keep the tyres properly inflated.

Of course, the best way to save on petrol is not to have a car at all! Ultimately a car is a lousy investment and eats money. And the revelation by the Times newspaper yesterday that the government has abolished a tax exemption on certain older cars, making them virtually worthless, is another kick in the teeth for motorists.  But where we live it just isn’t practical not to drive. Frankly I’m impressed by a couple I know who have a child but simply refuse to buy a car and they do fine, although I think they have their groceries delivered or get a taxi home from the supermarket, which is what we used to do before we succumbed to being petrolheads.

Do you have a car? How do you save on fuel? Or do you think owning a car is a waste of money? Leave a comment and let me know.

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6 Responses to Petrolheads

  1. rik says:

    Cars are like drugs, sometimes they\’re needed, other times (mostly) they\’re addictive. I got fed up of the cost of running even my old 1.4 sunny (40 – odd mpg), but even more fed up of sitting in traffic jams. I made the decision 2 years ago (2 years next week actually) not to have a car if possible, so far I\’ve stuck to it but I do use the other halfs occaisionally. I did keep my motorbike \’til last year, (Kawasaki 750 – only 45-ish mpg and probably cost more in tyres than petrol but loads of fun!), I didn\’t sit in jams then and I\’m really starting to miss it now. If I don\’t have another car before my no claims runs out later this year, I doubt if I ever will. It\’s not easy to break the car habit and, of course, not possible for everyone, but you might be surprised how long you can manage without one if you try. I use the pushbike or walk mostly now, unless I need to move big things, shopping (only if it\’s lots), or people. Give it a try, the hardest part is usually in your head!

  2. Storm says:

    I travel long distances with my work.  I drive a Volkswagen Golf.  On a good run I can get 74 MPG out of it, on a town run I can usually manage about 62, so it isn\’t bad.  I drive very gently, blasting out heavy electric blues to help me along.  I can\’t ride a bike, I just wobble and fall off, so that\’s no good for me.  Besides, when you have to get from Hull to Plymouth (for example), it\’s just not practical…

  3. rik says:

    As I said, not possible for everyone! I take it the golf\’s a diesel? Still good mpg even if it is though!

  4. Christine says:

    What the petrol saving techniques list doesn\’t do is to tell you to do is to ask if that journey is needed, if you can do a number of chores together, whether you really want to go there. There\’s nothing wrong with getting your groceries delivered – plenty of choice on-line and you can plan what you want to buy without being tempted by those little extras that you spot in the supermarket isles. Yes it does require thought and planning but if you are going to be in charge of your finances, that is no bad habit to learn. Have you thought of investigating advanced driving lessons to improve your driving skills? It is worth seeing if you can find a course, looking at the cost and seeing if it will a) improve your skills which may save petrol and b) could save on your car insurance if it makes you less accident prone(mind some people are accident prone as a way of life she says laughing thinking of family members). Just a thought – sometimes you need to invest to save long-term.

  5. rik says:

    You could start by reading this. Not the same as a lesson, but a start.

  6. piper says:

    Thanks guys – driving lessons cost a small fortune these days and I\’ve had tonnes of them. But my driving improves the more often I do it.  Have only actually had a couple of small prangs so far – fingers crossed – in five years of driving.

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