Improve your car’s fuel economy with these top driving tips.
Fuel prices are one of the biggest issues for motorists, so it’s worth doing all you can to make the most of every litre of fuel. And sometimes driving a fuel-efficient car isn’t enough.
Here are some of the most common ways in which you might be wasting petrol and diesel.
Short on time? Here's a quick video that'll give you a rundown of the main tips:
1. Your car is overloaded
You can reduce fuel consumption by removing excess weight from your car. You can do this by removing your roof rack when you aren't using it and disposing of any rubbish.
Your car is likely already packed with necessary stuff – torch, wrench, spare wheel, jump leads – and it all adds up. Although, it’s not advisable to venture out without the above, especially in winter.
Footballs, deckchairs, toys and so on might be handy from time to time, but they cost you money to transport.
The trick to reducing what you spend on petrol and diesel is to make a series of small changes, starting with a boot clear-out.
2. You're using air con when you should be winding windows down (& vice versa)
It’s the middle of summer and the inside of your car is like a sauna. But do you roll the windows down or switch air conditioning on?
Either method of achieving a civilised ambient temperature can be wrong, depending on your speed.
Air conditioning uses fuel, and having the windows down causes drag, which uses up fuel too.
Well, here’s what to do.
At low speeds, the fuel used to compensate for drag is less than the fuel used to power your air con, so open the window.
While driving on the motorway, however, it’s the other way around.
The fuel used to compensate for drag is greater than the fuel required to have the air conditioning on, so turn on the climate control.
The tipping point for this is around 30 mph.
3. Your tyres aren't the right pressure
If you can’t tell from how your car handles that your tyres aren’t the right pressure, then your fuel economy should tip you off.
The surface area that’s in contact with the road increases when a tyre is under-inflated. The more surface area in contact with the road, the more drag on the wheel.
Research has found that a tyre just 10 PSI under the recommended level can increase fuel consumption by 2.5%.
4. You've got bad pump habits
As annoying as it is to regularly top up your fuel, it does help you get more miles for your money.
Only topping up with what you need and avoiding having a full tank means the fuel you do have goes slightly further.
To make it easier to judge the correct amount of fuel, keep a notebook in the glove box. When you fill up, write down how much fuel you put in to get from A to B. Note this in litres, not in pounds, as the price is always changing.
Some fuel tanks can take up to 109 litres, so that’s a significant amount of extra weight to carry around. You wouldn’t leave 109 litres worth of bottled water in your boot, would you?
To find the cheapest fuel near you, use our handy petrol price comparison tool.
5. You don’t plan ahead
Before setting off on a journey, try and plan when you will need to refuel and where you will go to do so. This should help you to avoid letting your fuel run low as it may result in you panic-buying at the nearest, most expensive station.
6. You’re not taking advantage of vouchers and cashback credit cards
Supermarkets often compete to try and encourage you to use their station. Keep an eye out for vouchers that give you money off your fuel spending and use them when you fill up.
7. You’re driving too aggressively
Your driving style can have a big impact on how much petrol or diesel you use.
To improve your fuel economy, the Institute of Advanced Motorists has the following driving tips.
“Try to keep your driving smooth. Gentle acceleration and using the highest safe gear will use less fuel.”
What’s more, when you approach traffic lights, “ease off the accelerator early if the lights are red. Why hurry up to wait?”
This style of driving, where harsh or rapid accelerating is minimised and gears are used efficiently, is often known as ‘eco-safe driving.’
It will not only help you use less fuel, which is better for you and the environment, but it tends to be safer too – hence the name.
8. You think coasting in neutral will save you money
Finally, many people used to try to save fuel by coasting – that is rolling downhill out of gear.
While it’s true that it won’t cost you extra, nowadays it won’t save you fuel either.
That’s because when you take your foot off the accelerator in a modern car the fuel supply to the injectors is cut, so there's nothing to be gained.
Therefore, you’re much better off altering your driving style, as outlined above, than trying to improve fuel efficiency by coasting.
Coasting is also generally advised against for safety reasons as it leads to less control over your car, which is another reason not to do it.
How much do you really spend on fuel?
Knowing how much your car is costing you to run is the first step to shaving a few pounds off your bill.
Visit our fuel cost calculator to see just how much you're spending on petrol or diesel each week, month and year.
First published on the 26th of January 2017