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. Petrolprices.com 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.