How to Drive More Efficiently

Apart from downloading the PetrolPrices app, there are a load of ways you can save money while driving. We’ve listed a few tips below, but bear in mind these might not work for everyone. Some cars are built differently to others but these provide an overall idea of a few things you can do to get those few extra miles per gallon.

Don’t use unnecessary speed. The Department for Transport figures states you’ll use up to 9% more fuel driving at 70mph than you would at 60mph and up to 25% more fuel travelling at 80mph instead of 70mph. The faster you drive, the greater your fuel consumption. Set off a little before you need to, to avoid feeling rushed.

Don’t think slow driving is always best though. To drive well below the speed limit on motorways, etc, is dangerous. It’s also unlikely to save much fuel. Conserve momentum. This is as important for fuel consumption as not driving too fast.

Drive at the lowest speed you can, in the highest gear possible. Car manufacturers quote the most fuel-efficient driving speed as 55/56mph. This depends on your vehicle and several factors, including driving style. Road conditions and gradients mean you can’t always to stick to this ‘ideal’ speed, but you can learn to adjust your driving according to the road ahead. This technique is known as ‘hypermiling’.

Keep the car moving as much as you can. The ability to do this depends on traffic conditions and what’s happening on the road ahead, but slowing down and having to speed up again uses more fuel.

Go gentle on the accelerator. You always have to speed up several times on a journey but that doesn’t mean you have to drive off at speed.

Drive as smooth as you can. It’s the most energy-efficient way of driving and one that will deliver the best fuel economy. Be gentle with the accelerator, brakes, and steering. Focus in the distance on what’s coming up so you can make adjustments early to prevent a disruption to your flow.

Get clever with hills. Steep inclines destroy fuel economy. To speed up them reduces your mpg. If you spot a hill ahead, slightly speed up before you reach it, then reduce speed as you drive up. The extra momentum should be enough to minimise added consumption.

Keep your engine revolutions low by changing up gears early. You’ll lose speed fast if you let the engine labour. Try to keep the engine speed in the ideal fuel-efficient spot.

Added weight affects fuel economy. On average, every 50kg increases fuel consumption by 2%, so don’t keep unnecessary items in your boot and only half fill your fuel tank if you’re an urban driver. Don’t leave your roof bars on, either — they cause wind resistance and ‘drag’, increasing fuel consumption. Typical roof racks weigh between 3kg-5kg but the aerodynamic factor is more. Empty roof racks increase fuel consumption by around 10%.

Don’t use your air conditioning unless you must. It uses the power of the engine which increases fuel consumption.

Consider making one round trip instead of several short trips. Engines work at their most efficient once warm. Starting a cold engine several times, increases fuel consumption, even though your journey may involve the same amount of miles.

Take a small detour, to a cheaper forecourt If there’s competition between retailers. This can save you as much as a few pence for every litre you buy. Over 12 months of driving you could save a lot of money. Stick not only with supermarkets; independent retailers can be price-competitive, too.

Make the most of supermarket price wars. The big supermarkets often tempt customers into their shops by reducing their fuel prices. Sometimes they’ll offer money-off vouchers at the till, for use at their forecourts. Supermarkets and other fuel retailers often run loyalty card schemes, too. Collect points each time you fill up your tank and spend the points (or exchange them vouchers) for future fuel purchases.

Consider a credit card that offers cashback for use at filling stations. While you won’t save you money right away, you’ll get back something into your account, which can offset the fuel price hikes. Avoid these cards if you don’t always pay your credit card balance in full each month — your savings will get cancelled out by the interest paid.

Keep up with your car maintenance and servicing. Your tyres and brake pads can affect the overall performance and fuel economy of your car. Inflate your tyres to the correct pressure as stated in your owner’s manual. This’ll vary depending on the load you’re carrying, be it a full boot or passengers.

Unless you’re phobic about them use motorways — they’re the most fuel-efficient roads in the country and, statistics show they’re the safest roads, too. If you have cruise control, motorways are the perfect place to use it — on a constant flat surface — to increase your car’s fuel economy.

A tyre’s rolling resistance can account for about 30% of a vehicles fuel consumption, researchers in Germany have calculated that someone driving around 20,000 miles per year could save as much as £200 on their fuel bill, just by switching to a green tyre. Of course, it only really makes sense if you need to replace your tyres anyway.

Ensure that your car is operating at peak performance. A 10% drop in tyre pressure can affect the efficiency of the tyre and rolling-resistance, leading to a decrease in MPG. Equally, a dirty air filter can have a dramatic effect on fuel usage – some experts claim that replacing a dirty air filter could improve your mileage by as much as 10%.


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