How to save �3.50 in a mile!

DRIVERS could today save pounds on a tank of fuel by choosing between two petrol stations less than a mile apart.

DRIVERS could today save pounds on a tank of fuel by choosing between two petrol stations less than a mile apart.

The cost of a litre of petrol at these garages near Ipswich differs by seven pence, despite them being situated minutes away from each other.

While Sainsbury's Warren Heath forecourt trades at 97.9p for a litre of unleaded, the Esso filling station in Nacton Road charges customers 104.9p.

Filling up an average family car with a 50-litre tank could cost motorists around �3.50 less at Sainsbury's than at Esso and the same goes for drivers who own cars with diesel engines.

An AA spokesman explained why prices may differ at garages in such close proximity, saying: “Some companies will use lots of additives and detergents in their fuel that other companies may not use.

“There are ways of playing with the chemical make-up of fuel that will certainly help clean a car's engine.

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“Nevertheless all companies must adhere to fuel quality standard directives.”

Some premium petrol brands can differ in price to other conventional fuels because of their octane rating - a measure of a fuel's ability to resist engine knocking, which happens when the fuel mixes with air and explodes instead of burning in a controlled way.

But the inconsistency between prices at Sainsbury's and Esso concerns the same grade of fuel.

Miriam Harrup of the East of England Co-operative Society, which operates the Esso garage in Nacton Road, said: “We are constantly monitoring our competitors' prices, but it's a difficult process to make price comparisons as our fuel prices change daily in accordance with our supplier contract whereas other operators may only need to change theirs weekly.

“Our profit margin in this volatile area of trade is extremely low, but our members benefit from Co-op dividend when they shop with us in our shop and fuel outlets.”

A Sainsbury's spokesman said: “Our petrol prices are among the lowest in the country and our customers can be confident that whenever they fill up with us, they are getting the best possible value.

“We constantly review our pricing versus the local competitors and will ensure our customers get a competitive price locally for their petrol.”

The biggest influence on fuel prices remains tax. The total tax paid at the pumps is now 71 percent, representing an increase of almost 10pc going to the Treasury since last year.

Without the addition of fuel tax, motorists would on average pay little more than 30p for a litre of petrol.

How to get more miles for your money:

Inflate your tyres - Setting your tyres to the proper inflation can reduce fuel consumption. When tyres are cold their pressure will decrease.

Lighten your load - Remove any surplus heavy items from the boot. Remove your roof rack if you don't need it for the journey.

Plan your journeys - Try to travel the shortest distance possible to get to your destination. Choose a route with fewer stops and less traffic. Take motorways rather than back roads where possible.

Keep the tank topped up - Fill up the tank next time you stop for fuel and try to keep it more than one third full.

Check your speed - Accelerate smoothly and keep the revolutions per minute (RPM) as low as possible. The faster you travel, the harder your engine has to work.

Avoid unnecessary braking - Anticipating traffic movement and keep a safe distance from cars in front. Coasting will save more fuel than stopping and starting.