While recent reductions in the cost of a litre of fuel are welcome by motorists all over the country, British drivers still pay more at the pumps than most of their European counterparts. In order to wring out as much value as possible from that £1 per litre you are now paying, read our tips and be even more economical with your fuel use.
1. Accelerate Smoothly
Driving erratically or aggressively like a boy racer can help you consume 60% more fuel. In real terms that’s a massive 40p for every pound you spend. If you can, the ideal way to travel is at a constant speed of around 50mph, and in the highest gear. Pull away from lights smoothly, don’t overtake unnecessarily only to abruptly stop at traffic lights and tail-gaiting with sharp braking is a real no-no. Slow and steady wins the fuel race.
2. Make Fewer Trips
Planning ahead can help maximise fuel usage. A cold engine uses much more fuel for the first five miles so ideally you'd combine all your daily errands into one big trip. Of course that may not be possible especially with daily journeys to work, however at weekends, try to avoid short trips. If you need to pop out for some milk, then walk - the exercise will do you good!
3. Dont Carry Around Unnecessary Weight
The heavier your car the more fuel it needs to move around. So, just as you wouldn't carry around a heavy suitcase unless you were on holiday, don't forget to remove those golf clubs left in the boot or ski box on your roof bursting with equipment. The more pared back the lighter and more efficient your car will be. Simples.
4. Go Easy on the Accelerator
This is an interesting one and possibly a little surprising too. This is not about what gear you're in. You may be in a high gear and travelling at a reasonable speed, but if you're pushing the accelerator down a long way to avoid changing into a lower gear (into second from third, for instance), then you're actually using more fuel not less.
5. Maintain the Speed Limit
This is the classic time v’s money conundrum. Traffic allowing it is of course possible to shave some time off your journey by travelling at higher speeds, (not that we recommend that!) particularly on long motorway trips. While you may arrive roughly about 20 minutes early on a 200-mile trip by travelling at 80mph instead of 70mph, it could also be a false economy. The car may have been running for 20 minutes less, yet it will have used more fuel. That 20 minutes could cost you up to £7 extra in fuel.
6. Check Typre Pressure
The lower the tyre pressure, the more fuel the car needs to move it down the road. We recommend that you take five minutes every fortnight to check the tyres. If you're not sure what the pressure should be, you can normally find the figures near the lock inside the driver's door.
7. Turn off the Air-Con
Ok, we know that with our fluctuating weather this is a difficult ask. Of course it’s tempting to leave the air-con on all year round -it stops the windows misting up in the winter and you don't ever need to think about the temperature inside the car after all. BUT (there’s always a but isn’t there?) it uses rather a lot of fuel, so turn it off when it's not hot (psst…It’s the button with the snowflake symbol).
8. Close Windows
It's not so much of a problem when you're driving in town, but when you're out of town or on the motorway and moving more quickly, the shape of your car is very important. For those fond of science, the correct name is aerodynamics – the study of drag and lift. You can't do much about the design of your car, but you can avoid making it worse by not leaving the windows and sunroof open. It's better to use the air vents for most of the year, and the air-conditioning when it gets too hot.
9. Change up Gear Earlier
Don't labour the engine but try changing up at an engine speed of around 2,000 rpm in a diesel car or around 2,500 rpm in a petrol car. This can make such a difference and 'Gear Shift indicators’ can even be retro fitted and will show the most efficient gear change points. Some brands – such as Vauxhall - have these as standard on many models.
10. Car Share
Of course the ultimate way to save fuel would be not to drive at all! If you can, look around for car share partners at work - many businesses activity encourage it and will help facilitate the process. There are also car share web sites which allow you to co-ordinate and share journeys across the country. And if it’s good enough for Peter Kay…