With the constant increase of petrol and diesel prices, some of us drivers are becoming more and more concerned about the cost of running a car. Though I drive a small and very economical car already, I try to drive more economically to make my full tank of petrol last a bit longer. Here I will discuss some tips that I and some friends and family use to reduce our fuel consumption.
Check your tyre pressure
According to RAC, checking your cars tyre pressure regularly and inflating them to the correct pressure, improves fuel consumption by 3% as well as improves safety.
Remove excess weight
The lighter the car, the less fuel is needed. Clear out your boot of unnecessary items that you aren’t going to use on your trip out. If you aren’t planning to make a long journey, you can also fill your tank half full or less at a time to reduce the weight to save on petrol.
To be honest I personally always fill my tank up full each time I refuel, as I don’t really want fuel up every week. Instead a full tank lasts me 2 weeks.
Avoid being dragged down
Remove your roof racks or roof box if not in use, because these will increase drag. The Energy Saving Trust found that a roof rack increases fuel by approximately 16% and a roof box approximately 39% at 75mph. This shows that aerodynamic plays a big role in fuel consumption.
Maintain your car
Get your car serviced regularly to ensure the engine is running at its optimum efficiency.
An obvious one, but the easiest way to safe on petrol or diesel is to simply walk or cycle instead. If it is a short distance like a 5 minutes walk to the corner shop, why not go for a quick walk and get some fresh air at the same time? Taking public transport or sharing a car with friends or colleagues to commute is another option that could save you money.
I know for most of us on the Isle of Wight that do drive, sadly taking the bus makes no sense as the bus fare is so high that it actually cost less to run a small economical car.
Get the bike out
If you don’t have to go far, why not get the bike out instead of taking the bike? Got a bike in the shed, but need to get it fixed? No problem! Why not get a free £50 voucher towards your bike repair, through the government Fix Your Bike Scheme?
Open the windows?
Opening windows can increase drag and therefore increase fuel consumption. The drag is worse at higher speeds such as on the motorway or dual carriageway. Therefore open windows, when you are driving trough town and use the air-conditioner when on the motorway.
Turn on the AC at high speeds
Turning the Air-Con on consumes fuel, but uses more fuel when driving slow. Therefore I would open my windows when driving through town and use the air conditioning system instead on the motorway.
Turn the heater on or not?
Just like the Air-Con, the heater also uses engine power, hence increases fuel consumption. Put on a jacket or another layer instead to keep warm.
Reduce your speed
According to the AA, dropping your speed from 80mph to 70mph can save you up to 25% of fuel and dropping from 70mph to 60mph can save you up to 9%
Keep the momentum
Keeping momentum as much as possible, by breaking and accelerating less can improve fuel consumption greatly. For instance avoid speeding up to the car in front of you, only having to break.
Move up a gear
Driving at the highest possible gear with the right speed makes a huge difference to your miles per gallon (mpg). Try maintaining your revs per minute (rpm) around 2000 rpm. So try using your 5th and 6th gear as much as possible.
Breaking harshly just before a speed bump and speeding up to the next speed bump just to break harshly again is inefficient and burns more fuel. Instead try driving at a stead speed of 15mph to 20mph to drive over speed bumps more efficiently.
Instead of idling at a traffic light or during a traffic jam on the motorway, try switching off your engine if your car doesn’t have a start/stop function to save fuel.
Use start/ stop
Many newer cars now have a start/stop function, which automatically switches the cars engine off while in neutral to save fuel.
Some people have this function but are not aware that they have this as it can be switched off too. If you are unsure, worth asking the garage or dealership whether your car has start/stop. I used to switch it off as it annoyed me at the beginning when I bought my car, but got used to it and have it on to save fuel.
Use supermarket vouchers
Occasionally supermarkets such as Tesco run events such as spend £50 in store to get 5p off per liter of fuel. Whenever the event is on, I make sure I do my weekly food shop then to obtain the voucher. The voucher has got an expiry date but you wont have to use the voucher on the same day. So I tend to make sure I use the voucher within the date given and when my tank is low to make the most of it.
Compare petrol prices
Check who sells petrol or diesel cheaper in your area, before going to fill up your tank. I like using the website PetrolPrices to compare petrol prices in my area before I fuel up. They also do it as an app that you can download on your phone. Every penny counts, right?
Don’t use motorway stations
Motorway stations tend to be a lot more expensive than petrol stations at supermarkets. Because of this make sure you have enough fuel before starting a long journey.
Use your cars eco driving program
Some cars like my little Volkswagen have a build in program that encourages drivers to drive more smoothly and economically. For VW drivers it is called Think Blue Trainer.
Get a Data Plug
Volkwagen car owners of cars registered after 2008, can obtain a Data Plug from the dealership, which allows you to connect your car with your smartphone via Bluetooth. This collects your driving performance data so that you can see how economical your driving style is. As far as I remember these Data Plugs are free to all VW owners. I have gotten mine for free from the VW dealership on request.
I like the Data Plug that connects to my phone through the VW We Connect app, because there are some challenges and you can earn rewards on there making the challenge to drive more efficiently fun.
Plan your trip
Before a long journey, fuel up before you set off and check for the fastest route to your destination. Also make sure you fuel up again before you make your return journey if needed, to avoid having to use the motorway station to top up your tank.