Fuel for thought over savings at pumps

Driving out of your way for cheaper pump prices could cost more in wasted fuel nearly £500m a month

Driving out of your way for cheaper pump prices could cost more in wasted fuel nearly £500m a month says research. - Credit: PA

Bargain-hunting motorists who drive out of their way for cheap fuel could be wasting almost £500m every month according to research.

A Focus on Fuel report by MoneySuperMarket found that nearly four in 10 motorists would drive out of their way to save just 1p per litre when filling up at the pump. Driving the extra miles in search of cheaper fuel means motorists could be wasting almost £500m a month.

This equates to £193m for petrol drivers and £273m for diesel drivers. Each month UK petrol drivers could be wasting £8 and diesel drivers £21.

The report also identified the biggest influence when deciding where to buy fuel:

Price – 84%.

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Convenience – 83%.

Loyalty Points – 56%.

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Brand name – 16%.

The Focus on Fuel report has also identified the 'tipping point' at which driving extra miles means drivers are wasting money. Going more than two miles for a 1p per litre saving makes this journey pointless. The benefit of saving 2p per litre is cancelled out by driving more than four miles. On the flip side, driving just one mile to pay 5p per litre less on fuel will give motorists a saving of £2.29 per litre when filling a 50-litre tank.

Clare Francis, consumer finance expert at MoneySuperMarket, said: 'It's no surprise cash-strapped motorists are seeking out cheaper petrol prices. The cost of fuel accounts for a huge proportion of household outgoings and, with prices on the up, many drivers are doing all they can to spend as little as possible running their vehicle.

'Three-fifths of workers rely on their cars for their daily commute so finding ways to cut fuel costs is high up the priority list.

'While driving a couple of extra miles for cheaper fuel which is a few pence cheaper per litre might seem like a simple way of cutting costs, the reality is that in many cases it's a pointless pursuit or, worse, actually ends up with you spending more.

'Motorists should consider adopting the two for one rule, with two being the maximum number of extra driving miles to make it worthwhile to find a one pence per litre saving. We have also developed a fuel calculator, to help motorists identify when driving the extra distance for cheaper fuel means making a saving and when it actually ends up costing them more.'

Finding cheaper fuel is just one way of cutting costs. Motorists should also consider the way they drive, and how they look after their vehicle.

The research found 85% of motorists have adopted measures to curb their fuel usage, such as avoiding harsh braking (58%), trying not to rapidly accelerate (48%) and not driving too fast (44%). When it comes to making their vehicles more fuel efficient, six in 10 drivers keep their tyres at the right pressure and make sure their vehicle is serviced regularly.

Clare Francis said: 'Drivers can find ways to cut back at the pumps by following a few basic tips to help reduce their consumption. Avoiding heavy braking, harsh accelerating or excessive speeding can reduce the amount of fuel you use significantly. Keeping your vehicle roadworthy is also important. Check your tyres to make sure they are at the right pressure, and ensure your car is regularly serviced as dirty air filters and oil can all have a negative effect on fuel consumption. Opting for premium petrol over regular works out more cost-effective in the long run as it is better for the engine, and always remember heading to a supermarket forecourt can also lead to big savings, with many offering loyalty cards and vouchers.

'Overall, the cost of running a car is a big commitment and anything to bring down the costs helps motorists make the most of their money. Shopping around for the best-value car insurance and breakdown cover can also significantly reduce the annual cost of running a car.'

MoneySuperMarket's fuel cost calculator can be found by following the link at the top right of this story.

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