Do you seem to be spending more and more of your time at the filling station these days? Or are you finding that your credit card gets a real belting each time you fill up with fuel? This isn’t necessarily to do with higher petrol and diesel prices – it could be the way you are driving. Take a look at these fuel-saving tips which may help make your pit stops to the pump a little less painful.
1. Plan your journey
Driving the long way around when running errands or doing your daily essentials will obviously cost you more in the long run. If you’re not sure exactly where you’re going, your satnav will keep you from getting lost – and many can now plot the most fuel-efficient route from A to B. But it’s not just where you are driving to that you need to be wary of; it’s when. Sitting in heavy or stop-start traffic will always mean that you burn more fuel. So if you can, try and avoid driving at the busiest times of the day.
2. Pump it up
Tyres that are not inflated to the correct level are not only dangerous, but they can cause your car to burn more petrol. Keeping a car’s tyres properly inflated can improve fuel economy by about 3%, and it also lengthens their lifespan. It’s also worth remembering that bald and un-roadworthy tyres are one of the most common driving offences reported, a crime which can carry a £1000 fine and three points on your licence – per wheel!
3. Close your windows
As tempting as it may be when the weather is warm, driving down the motorway with the windows down isn’t great for your fuel economy. When driving above 55 mph, especially for long periods open windows make a vehicle less aerodynamic by letting in air, which then increases air resistance and decreases fuel efficiency. On long road trips, using air conditioning could actually improve your mileage by up to 20%.
4. Feel the need not to speed
As well as avoiding regular gear changes and unnecessary revving of the engine (which all cause needless burning of fuel), keeping to a steady speed on the motorway will also reduce your consumption. For every 5 mph you reduce on your motorway speed, you can reduce fuel consumption by around 7%. That means that driving at 65mph instead of 70mph can save you a pretty penny!
5. Stay on track
Poor wheel alignment not only causes tyres to wear out more quickly, but also forces your engine to work harder in order to override the problem. Aligning your tyres correctly by having the tracking checked can save you up to 10% on your fuel usage.
6. Use air conditioning sparingly
Air conditioning might be a necessity on a hot day, but in order to save fuel you’re better off using it intermittently rather than leaving it on all the time. A/C can be a huge drain on fuel resources so choose your moments carefully.
7. Lighten your load
Carrying extra weight usually means burning extra fuel, no matter how big your vehicle is. On average, you could be cutting your fuel efficiency by up to 2% for every 50 kilograms of extra weight you carry – that includes passengers and cargo.
8. Stay in tune
Regardless of whether your engine is petrol or diesel, keeping your car in good condition can pay dividends in terms of fuel efficiency. Did you know that a car that needs a tune-up or that has failed an emissions test can reduce fuel efficiency by an average of 4%? Something a little more serious is also a real drain on resources, with problems like a faulty oxygen sensor potentially reducing mileage by up to 40%. So it’s certainly worth making sure your car is in the best possible condition before filling up and hitting the road.
9. Put a fuel cap on it
Unbelievably it’s been estimated that nearly 17% of cars on the road have broken or missing fuel caps. Why is this such a big deal? Escaping fumes not only release smog-causing compounds into the air, they also hurt fuel economy when fuel evaporates into the air instead of combusting inside your engine. By simply replacing a bad petrol cap you can save the environment and petrol at the same time.
Simply follow these tips (and for some other ideas, here’s another five suggestions on how to save fuel) and you can make your fuel tank go that bit further.