Fuel prices are at an all-time high thanks to a series of tax rises and the soaring cost of oil. So if you’re a driver then chances are you’re on the forecourt more frequently and your fuel spend has risen.
But there are some measures you can take to economise, if you know how to get the most out of your motor per gallon. We’ve put together a few simple tips to help you keep your fuel consumption down.
Efficient route planning
This may sound obvious, but smart route planning is a key factor in keeping fuel wastage to a minimum. You may have routes you’re used to taking, but are you sure they’re the most efficient? Check out The AA route planner or Google Maps to find the most direct route, or use sat nav. If you’re driving an unfamiliar route, proper route planning will reduce your chances of getting lost and driving needless miles.
Driving in heavy traffic leads to greater fuel consumption because of all the stopping and starting. So if you can avoid congested areas, you’ll avoid draining your fuel tank too quickly. Check traffic news, register for traffic alerts, or listen to local radio stations for updates. Good sat nav systems will be able to tell you the routes to avoid too.
Try and combine multiple trips rather than making individual ones. For example, if you needed to pick up or drop off equipment at several different places, see if you can do it all in one run. Not only will this ultimately reduce the number of miles you travel, but it will limit cold starts as well, which also guzzle fuel.
Get rid of any excess weight you’re carrying in your vehicle where possible. Have a quick scan of your car before you make a journey, and offload anything you won’t need. This includes things on the exterior such as roof racks, which create extra drag that will force your car to use fuel faster.
High-speed driving obviously burns more fuel, so it’s a good idea to temper your speed. Not only that, but you’re less fuel efficient if you accelerate and brake hard. So if you keep it smooth, then you’ll keep your consumption down. Plus, as soon as you can without causing any strain on the engine, shift up a gear – the sooner you can get higher, the better.
Taking the van out of gear when going downhill or approaching a junction isn’t advisable, as you compromise the control you have over the vehicle. In addition, due to updated fuel systems in modern vehicles, doing this won’t save you fuel anyway.
Switch it off
Any electrical equipment you have running off your car will push the fuel gauge closer to ‘E’. With this in mind, turn off your rear-windscreen heaters, headlights and so on if you don’t need them.
Air conditioning is more of a drain at lower speeds. So if you’re feeling a bit on the warm side, it’s better to wind down a window if you’re using urban roads, but to use the air con if you’ve got your speed up on the motorway.
Although it’s usually better to keep the engine rolling rather than switching it off and on again, if you’re stuck in traffic deadlock and you’re unlikely to move for three minutes, then that might be a good time.
Keep your motor in good nick
Regular servicing and using the correct grade of engine oil will keep your engine in good shape, so it’s well worth keeping on top of that. You should check your tyre pressure frequently as well. Under-inflated tyres are less safe than properly-pumped ones, and they also create more resistance which leads to – you guessed it – greater fuel consumption. Not only that, but under-inflation can significantly reduce the tyres' lifespan.
You can get a break down of how much you spend on petrol with our fuel cost calculator.