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As fuel prices at the pump remain lower than they’ve been in years, motorists can enjoy saving some well-earned cash, but there are lots of other precautions we can take to reduce fuel costs even further.
The car you choose to drive will have a direct effect on your fuel bill, but there are still things you can do to save money, reduce CO2 emissions and limit pollution.
Follow Trusted Dealers’ guide below to fuel saving and you could save at least 10% or more on your weekly fuel bill.
One of the first ways to ensure you are not wasting fuel and energy costs is to maintain your vehicle regularly. Regularly servicing your car (according to the manufacturer’s schedule) will help to maintain engine efficiency.
Check your tyres regularly to ensure the pressure is correct, particularly before longer journeys. Under-inflated tyres cause an increase in rolling resistance and can increase fuel consumption by 3%, the tyres will wear out quicker too. Check your owner’s manual for the correct tyre pressures.
Don’t leave your engine idle. Start the engine when you’re ready to go, and in winter, avoid using your car’s engine heat to thaw out windows – use a scraper and de-icer instead. Plan your journey well to reduce the risk of getting lost, and if it’s a shorter journey, consider taking a bike or walking rather than using the car.
Before you set off, lose any extra weight from the car that you don’t need. Extra weight means extra fuel so if there are things in the car you don’t need, get rid of them. If your boot is getting cluttered, have a clear out and if you’re carrying a roof rack you’re not using, take it off.
Turn things off
Its more cost-efficient to drive with the windows down and the air con off at lower speeds. In heavy stop-start traffic, air conditioning can increase your fuel consumption by as high as 10% as opposed to 3-4% on the motorway. If it’s a hot day, try to reduce consumption by keeping the air con on for short amounts of time – once the car is cooler turn it off. In winter, turn off your heated rear windscreen, demister blowers and headlights when you don’t need them.
Avoid a full tank
Fuel is heavy so avoid filling your tank full if it’s unnecessary to do so. The less weight in your car, the more efficiently it will drive. Don’t be tempted to run the fuel too low, particularly in winter when you’ll use up more fuel due to regular use of your heater, windscreen wipers etc.
It’s estimated someone who averages 35 miles per gallon could reach 40mpg by driving better, a near-15% saving. The key is to drive smoothly. For further tips, see below.
Drive smoothly – aggressive acceleration and unnecessary braking can waste up to 60% more fuel.
Look ahead – try to look ahead and read the conditions of the road to avoid having to slam the brakes down hard.
Decelerate smoothly – save fuel by decelerating smoothly and avoiding coming to an abrupt halt.
Avoid stopping and starting – try to keep the car moving at all times, constantly stopping and starting will use up more fuel than rolling.
Use gears sensibly – using the gears correctly can have a huge affect on your fuel bill, with decreases of 15% achievable. Change to a higher gear as soon as it’s possible and safe to do so.
Stick to the limit – stick to the driving limits, and remember that the faster you go, the greater the fuel consumption and pollution. Driving at 80mph can increase your fuel consumption by as much as 20% more than doing 70mph, whilst driving at 70mph uses up to 9% more fuel than 60mph and so on.
Acceleration – the accelerator is a money pump – the harder you press, the more fuel you’ll spend. Try to accelerate gradually without over-revving and increase your speed smoothly. Stay under 3,000 revs where possible.
Automatic stop-start systems have become increasingly popular in new cars over the past five years. The system automatically switches the engine off when you stop and re-starts it when you drive away, proving to be a great driving aid when stuck in heavy traffic. Advantages of stop-start systems are that the engine can be re-started much faster and more frequently but will ultimately save you more in fuel costs than a conventional mechanism.
This used to be quite a common practice in order to save fuel, but rolling down a hill or approaching a junction with the car out of gear is inadvisable, primarily because the driver no longer has full control of the vehicle. Furthermore, with the recent changes in vehicle fuel systems, coasting won’t save you any more fuel either.
Calculating fuel consumption
In order to make improvements to your existing fuel consumption, you’ll need to calculate what that is. You can do this by setting your car’s onboard computer which records the average fuel economy to zero, to record a new average fuel economy.
If you don’t have an on board computer, follow some simple steps below: