Top fuel-saving driving tips

Andy Newbound

By: Andy Newbound

Top tips for help you save money on fuel

Our recent blog post about falling fuel prices comes as a welcome relief to many of us, especially those who value fuel efficient driving. Yet, the thing about petrol and diesel costs is that they’re like a seesaw in perpetual motion. Up-down, up-down, up-down.

Every price fall seems to be followed weeks if not days later by yet another hike. The net result is higher prices overall and even more pressure on our weary wallets. Which got us all at Stoneacre HQ thinking about things we can all do to take control of our fuel costs.

Our list included car sharing, switching to a hybrid or e-vehicle, using public transport; one bright spark even suggested hitch-hiking everywhere (this is not something we recommend!!)

For many of us, these options simply aren’t practical. Modern life has evolved around the car. We need it to get to work, get to those out-of-town-shops, visit friends and relatives. Which leave us with just one cost-saving option - use less fuel.

Fuel efficient driving

Surprisingly, driving fuel efficiently can actually be a lot easier than you think. Just by making a few simple adjustments to the way you drive, it might be possible to trim up to 20% off your annual fuel bill. As the average family with two cars spends around £3,000 on fuel each year, this could be as much as £600 – more than two months free driving!

Now we’ve got your interest, let’s go through a few of these simple yet effective driving techniques to demonstrate how to get the best mpg:

-  Cut the cargo. Before you even set off, lighten your load by taking unnecessary items out of your boot. Take off your roof-rack too; the extra drag increases fuel consumption.

- Plan ahead. Getting lost and driving extra miles is a sure-fire way to burn unnecessary petrol or diesel. So take a few minutes to plan your journey and check for traffic alerts.

How to drive fuel efficiently

Once you’re behind the wheel, there’s so much more you can do to make your driving more efficient and fuel-friendly. These additional methods show how to drive fuel efficiently:

- Take it easy. By consciously making an effort to drive more smoothly, avoiding harsh braking and aggressive acceleration, you’ll increase your mpg figures.

Paying attention to what’s happening on the road ahead helps you anticipate when you might need to slow down. Instead of braking at the last minute at a junction or traffic lights, reduce your speed gradually. This way, you’ll find slow moving traffic has often cleared by the time you reach it and your driving stays smooth.

- Drive slower. Sorry to be a killjoy, but if your drive slower you’ll use less fuel. It’s a simple fact. It’s also safer too. Often, this just means sticking to the speed limits.

Driving a few mph slower also gives you more time to assess the road in front and adjust your speed and driving to avoid unnecessary braking. And there’s more good news. On open roads and motorways, driving at a steady speed of 50mph instead of the gas-guzzling 70mph can increase your fuel efficient driving by an incredible 25%!

- Gear up to save. Keeping revs steady and changing up into higher gears saves fuel too. For a petrol engine, change gear before the revs reach 2500rpm. For diesels, change before 2000rpm. This stops unnecessary revving and burns less fuel.

- Check your tyres. There’s a reason car manufacturers specify air-pressure levels; to give you maximum fuel efficiency and performance. If your tyres are under-inflated by just a few psi, there’s more road resistance and your engine has to work harder to propel your car. This means more fuel use. By checking tyres at least once a month to make sure they’re fully inflated, you’ll help reduce your fuel consumption.

- Speed bump steady. Instead of braking hard to tackle a speed bump, then accelerating forward before braking again for the next one, drive across them smoothly at a steady 15-20mph. This keeps you at a safe speed, doesn’t put unnecessary strain on your wheels and suspension, and stops your car from guzzling fuel.

- Go cruising. If you’re lucky enough to have a cruise control function fitted to your car, use it. Especially on long motorway journeys. By smoothly maintaining a steady speed (remember, 50mph or 60mph is better than 70mph) you’ll cut fuel use. One thing; cruise control doesn’t work as well on hilly roads, so switch back to manual driving until the roads flatten back out.

- Get some air. Your car’s air con system can also have an impact on fuel consumption. At low speeds and during short distances it can contribute to fuel consumption, so it’s much better to switch it off and open a window or sunroof. At high speeds, switch it on as it’s more fuel-efficient than leaving your windows open – air coming into your car at high speed can reduce the vehicle’s aerodynamics and increase fuel costs by as much as 6%.

- Switch off. We all love gadgets in cars but over using them can actually make your car’s engine work harder. And as we know by now, this burns fuel. So whenever you can, limit use of the rear window heater, demister fan, headlights and anything that plugs into your car’s cigarette lighter for power.

How to get the best MPG

When you’re not behind the wheel, getting under the bonnet and doing a little extra maintenance can help you drive fuel efficiently. For instance, if your car has driven over 30,000 miles, make sure you change the spark plugs. Also make sure you regularly change your air filter and oil filter. One driver reported a 13% decrease in fuel consumption after a simple air filter change.

Also, make sure your car is serviced regularly. A badly running engine can use up to 50% more fuel than one that has been properly tuned and looked after. Oh, and finally, make sure your fuel cap is on securely. Believe it or not, fuel can actually evaporate from your tank if it’s not sealed air tight.