8 ways to improve your fuel economy

Andy Newbound

By: Andy Newbound

Simple tips to boost your fuel economy

The cost of fuel seems to keep on rising. Every month, the price at the pumps goes up and whether you drive a petrol or diesel powered car, the pressures on your pocket are the same. So if you want to get more miles from each gallon, are there any steps can you take?

Surprisingly, yes there are. Quite a few in fact. And if you follow them all, you could find that your monthly fuel bill could be less than you expect. Better still, it could take hardly any effort at all to make your money (and your car) go further. Take a look at our cost-cutting suggestions:

Lose weight

Don’t worry, we’re not suggesting you go on a new-fangled smoothie-sipping, cabbage-crunching weight-loss program (although you can if you really want to.) Instead, we’re suggesting you simply take a look at lightening the load in your car.

Remove unnecessary and heavy items from your boot or back seat, such as golf clubs, baby-buggies, or the junk you’ve collected over the years. I recently cleared out my own boot and found enough old books to stock an entire library shelf. I also removed three pairs of shoes, two bottles of water, and a cumbersome toolkit I’d borrowed from a friend last summer.

Cut the air-con

Do you really need to use the air-conditioning on every journey? On cold days, you might want to warm up your car but once it’s comfortable, turn the air-con off. Using it puts a strain on your engine (especially if the gas needs topping up, or the system needs servicing) and this uses more fuel.

Air-Con Servicing

Reduce drag

Many of us like to use a roof box or bike rack during regular trips away throughout spring and summer. The trouble is, quite a few of us are still carrying this extra load during autumn and winter.

It’s empty, right? So you might wonder what the problem is. Well, these chunky additions create extra wind resistance and reduce our cars’ aerodynamics. This makes our vehicle work harder and as a consequence, use more fuel. Remove them when not in use and your engine, and fuel gauge, will thank you for it.

Check tyre pressure

It’s so easy to take our tyres for granted. Or assume that because the tread is more than the legal minimum, all is well. Yet our tyres play such an important part in a car’s performance and fuel economy.

All manufacturers set the ideal tyre pressure to help your car perform at its best and this needs to be respected. Otherwise, if your tyre pressure is low, extra rubber will make contact with the road, increasing the rolling resistance and making your vehicle harder to move. It may seem such a little detail, but low tyre pressure makes your engine work harder and…yep, you’ve guessed it…use more fuel. Check your tyres weekly.

Get in gear

Revving your engine and thrashing your car around the roads in high gears might create an impressive sound, but it plays havoc with your engine’s fuel economy. It costs you a pretty penny too.

So if saving a bit of cash is more important than creating a bit of a stir, use your gears more calmly. Keep an eye on your rev-counter and change up before 2000rpm (petrol) and 2500rpm (diesel).  Accelerate and brake gently too. It’s much kinder to your car’s engine and much gentler on your wallet.

Stick to speed limits

We’re a nation of speeders. It’s why thousands of speeding tickets and penalty points are issued each year.  Not only is speeding illegal, it’s also dangerous and expensive. Driving at 80mph used up to 25% more fuel than sticking to the limit of 70mph.

On long or regular journeys, that works out to be a huge difference and a lot of money. By cutting your speed and obeying the law, you’ll be a safer driver and a wealthier one too – just think how much you’ll save on fuel!

Plan your journeys

Don’t just slide behind the wheel and hope for the best. British roads are notoriously congested. And when you factor in a seemingly endless program of ‘road improvements’ (cone hell, to you and me) it’s a shock that any of us arrive anywhere without delay.

So do your best to make each journey as delay-free as possible. Avoid known traffic black-spots and areas where those dreaded cones roam free. Take a minute to consult the AA or RAC websites for traffic reports and sign up to online alerts to keep you posted.

In addition, use a route-planner to find the shortest way from A-B and stop you getting lost. Fewer delays and less time spent queuing in traffic can cut your mpg considerable. Also cutting the costs!

Read the road

Smart drivers use the road almost as much as they use their accelerator and brake pedals. By anticipating what’s ahead of them, they can ease off their speed, smoothly avoid obstacles and even allow the momentum of a downhill stretch to build up speed for an incline. This cuts the amount of work the engine has to do and cuts down on the fuel it uses too. Clever stuff, but incredibly simple.