How to save money on fuel

Petrol pump

RACV Staff

Posted August 25, 2023

Save money at the petrol pump with these top tips for fuel-efficient driving and vehicle ownership. 

There are some significant and simple steps you can take to reduce in your fuel bill. The type of car you drive, the time of day you commute, your driving style, and when and where you fuel up may impact what you pay to fill up your tank.  

With some simple petrol-saving tips and tricks behind the wheel, you can save money at the bowser. 

RACV Members save up to 13c per litre with discount fuel vouchers.

filling up car with petrol

The fuel cycle, when you drive and what car you drive can all contribute to your fuel costs. Image: Supplied. 


Top tips for saving money on petrol 

Keep track of the fuel cycle

The price of fuel can be cyclical, with prices increasing for a period before lowering again. This is known as the fuel cycle, where petrol prices can appear to spike and fluctuate. Some of these price changes are based on external factors like oil prices, retailer competition, government taxes and global events. 

A typical fuel cycle lasts four to six weeks, so if you’re filling up during this time, try to utilise discounts like RACV fuel vouchers, or just top up rather than filling your tank to the brim, until prices drop again. 

Make sure your car is regularly serviced

A car operating efficiently will use less fuel. Regular and preventative servicing means you’re less likely to encounter mechanical issues that can impact fuel consumption, such as clogged air filters, spark plugs that are faulty, or low oil. 

Find an RACV Accredited Auto Care Centre. 

Check tyre pressure

Underinflated tyres can increase your car’s use of fuel consumption without you realising. Check your tyre pressure regularly, keeping note of the recommended range and that wheels are correctly aligned.

Not only will this help reduce fuel usage and costs, but it will also extend the lifespan of your tyres. 

Turn off the engine

If you have a car that automatically shuts the engine at red lights or prolonged stops (sometimes known as an automatic start-stop system), use this feature.

If not, you can still look to save on fuel by turning off your engine at times when you are waiting or idling in your car, even for just a brief period, so you aren’t using fuel unnecessarily. 


tyre on car

Tyres have more impact than you may realise on fuel consumption. Image: Supplied. 


Avoid excess weight or loads in the car 

Whether it’s people, pets or property, extra weight in your vehicle puts a bigger strain on your engine, meaning more fuel is used to get moving.  

Consider giving your car a clean out of excess goods sitting in your backseat or boot that may be unnecessarily weighing down the vehicle.

Remove the roof rack 

If you don’t have a need for your roof rack, consider removing it from your car. Just like excess weight, a structure on the top of your car can create resistance when driving, meaning you need to use more fuel because your engine must work harder.  

Windows or air conditioning

While using the air conditioning typically means extra work for your engine (and greater fuel consumption), windows are not always the better option for cooling vehicle occupants. It tends to depend on the speed you're driving and the type of car you have. 

On one hand, having windows down can create drag, particularly if you are travelling at faster speeds (around 80kph and over). At times like this, air conditioning will tend to be more cost effective. 

But if you're cruising to the dog beach on a 50-60kph road, less drag on the vehicle means less stress on the engine - so let Fido stick its head out and enjoy the fresh air. 

Drive smoothly

Driving smoother and maintaining a consistent speed is not only more comfortable for passengers and safer, but can translate into using less fuel overall.

When you avoid unnecessary or harsh acceleration, you can use less fuel than aggressive driving behaviour.

Choose when you drive

Avoid traffic and congestion by trying not to drive in peak periods, where you can. Idling, rapid acceleration and hard breaking can all affect your fuel usage, as 'stop-start' traffic puts more pressure on your engine, burning more fuel.

Arevo map

The free arevo app showcases the cheapest fuel near you in real-time. Image: Supplied. 


Consider alternative modes of transport

A great way to lower fuel costs is to spend less time in the car. When planning your car journey, consider if other options are more cost effective for part or all your journey. Public transport, cycling, walking, carpooling or ridesharing may save you money on some trips.  

We’ve got some tips on getting started on a cycling commute to work here.

Consider downsizing your vehicle 

Older and larger cars have a habit of guzzling more fuel at the bowser. If you don't really need a large SUV or dual cab ute any longer, consider downsizing your vehicle to a vehicle that is more economical. 

Go electric for your next car

Another way to stop spending on fuel is to purchase a car that doesn’t need it. If you’re in the market for a new car, you may wish to consider an electric vehicle. Rebates and discounts are available to lower the cost of purchasing an EV.

Going electric is an opportunity to step into a vehicle that operates on a battery charge rather than fuel. Without an internal combustion engine, EVs typically have lower maintenance costs than petrol or diesel vehicles.

Use the arevo app to find the cheapest petrol near you 

When you need to fill up, arevo enables you to search for the closest and cheapest petrol near you in real time. 

You can also access this information through the Fuel Tracker page on the RACV website, which provides updates on Melbourne’s fuel price trends, daily average fuel prices, and what prices are like in your local area. 


RACV Members get exclusive fuel discounts
Activate your fuel voucher →