Driving less than you did? Most people are, mainly because Covid restrictions are keeping them at home more than before. And if you’re one of those, you have probably noticed a change in your monthly motoring expenses, as your fuel bill reduces with every untaken journey.
But prices at the pumps have actually risen recently, which makes it all the more important to think about fuel economy when you do have to hit the road for your key worker commute or to make an essential journey to the supermarket.
Petrol prices have crept back up to their highest levels since they first dropped following last March’s lockdown, according to car insurer Ageas Insurance. Their figures reveal that by the end of January, petrol prices had risen to 118.1p per litre – up nearly 3p compared with the price at the beginning of the month – while diesel rose to 122.7p per litre.
If your car takes £60 to fill (that’s the average), and you do this once a week, you’ll be spending a whopping £3,000 a year. With many road journeys now on ice (and not because of the cold weather), motorists will certainly be seeing the financial benefits of staying indoors and working from home. However, the way you drive when you do venture out, and the condition of your car play a huge role on the amount of fuel you use, and any unnecessary costs can add up over time.
All the more reason to consider your driving habits and see if there’s anything you can do to help your car run more efficiently, to save you fuel and money. Driving carefully and considerately also helps to reduce strain on the car and its components, avoiding possible unnecessary repair bills.
These 10 top tips, compiled with the help of Ageas, could assist you in upping your petrol or diesel economy and going further on each tank of fuel:
1. Lose some weight
The heavier your car, the harder it has to work to speed up or slow down. So take out any weighty items that you don’t really need.
2. Don’t be a drag
Your car will have to work harder against unnecessary wind resistance. So remove roof boxes or bike racks if you’re not using them.
3. Windows up
Driving with windows open also increases aerodynamic drag, so you have to put your foot down further to compensate. No worries, you have air conditioning? Unfortunately this also uses fuel to operate.
4. Up the maintenance
Take the time to keep your car well maintained. Crucially for fuel-efficient driving, this includes keeping your tyre pressures correct to reduce resistance.
5. Switch up a gear
Change to a higher gear as soon as it’s possible and safe to do. It’s also a quieter and more relaxing drive like this.
6. Read the road ahead
Look ahead and anticipate obstacles, slowing vehicles or changes in gradient. That way, you can ease off the throttle gently rather than slamming your foot on the brakes.
7. Back off
Your fuel costs will increase the faster you drive, so keep speed reasonable, get into a high gear as soon as you can and drive smoothly.
8. Accelerate gently
There’s no need to race anyone away from the lights, or to blast through the gearbox like you’re on a rally. The harder you accelerate the more fuel you will burn through.
9. Steady as you go
Keeping a comfortable, steady speed could mean using cruise control. But this feature only aids fuel economy when driving on a constant flat surface. And keep a wary look out ahead – you’re ultimately in control of the vehicle.
10. Don’t go neutral
For most modern cars putting it in neutral when coasting downhill or up to a red light can actually waste fuel. While coasting, your engine is idling and still putting fuel into the motor. Approach obstacles steadily and use lower gears for engine braking to help save your brake pads as well as your fuel.