Get into some good habits so you don’t spend more on fuel than you have to.
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.
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. Windows down or 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.
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, 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. 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 conducted in 2008 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?
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.