With petrol and diesel costing more than ever before, fuel efficient driving is increasingly important (and popular). Ultimately, the cost of using your car is putting strain on your disposable income. You find yourself at the petrol pump thinking – “blimey, look at the price of petrol, it seems to go up every week”. It probably hasn’t gone up much since you last filled up but you’re not far wrong. The cost of fuel strikes fear into every driver as they hit the forecourt wondering how much a full tank is going to cost this time. By applying a few money-saving fuel efficient driving techniques, small changes can leave you with more cash in your pocket. And you’ll be helping the environment too.
There are many ways to make the cost of running your car a little less demanding on your wallet. In fact, every time you get behind the wheel you can actually save money. These simple techniques, known as eco-driving skills in the road transport trade, will help you lower your fuel consumption to make that full tank of petrol or diesel do more miles.
Set off slowly and build speed gradually
Don’t over-rev. There’s no need to do it. Boy racers might think it’s cool but it actually wastes fuel and costs you money. If you’re driving a petrol car, change gear at around 2,500 rpm, for diesel drivers you need to change at about 2,000 rpm. Think smooth and gradual. Aim to get to a high gear quickly but increase speed gradually. A high gear will use less fuel but you shouldn’t rush to get to that gear.
Watching your speed helps fuel efficient driving
Driving at 80mph on the motorway will cost you significantly more than driving at 70mph because of the fuel consumption of the vehicle. You’ll get farther on your tank of petrol or diesel by driving a little slower. Indeed, evidence shows that fuel consumption is about 20% greater at 80mph than it is at 60mph. Similarly, try to maintain speed as braking and accelerating uses more fuel.
Did I say “smooth” and “gentle”…well, I’ll say it again
Fuel efficient driving should begin with the mantra “slow and smooth”. Gradually building speed is one of the best ways to save money when behind the wheel. When the traffic lights go green, racing off the start line like a Formula One driver will make little difference to the time it takes to get to your destination but will mean higher fuel consumption. It’s also not as safe as accelerating slowly. Build speed by changing through the gears at around 2,000 rpm (diesel) and 2,500 rpm (petrol), seeking to apply the highest gear possible for safe, continuous travel on the road you’re on.
Idling costs money
Newer cars have functionality that automatically shuts the engine off when the car is sat idle at traffic lights or in a queue. Older cars don’t have this function but consider switching off your engine if you’re stationary for more than 30 seconds. However, don’t do this in the winter months if you have an older car as the engine needs time to warm up so idling can be beneficial in these circumstances.
Switch the air con off
Switching the air conditioning off cuts down on fuel consumption. In the warmer months, open a window. When driving on the motorway consider using the air conditioner sparingly.
There’s not much you can do to change the aerodynamics of your car. You can leave that challenge up to the manufacturer. But drag is still an issue and means that your car has to work harder, and therefore use more fuel to propel itself, for example, into a head wind. When driving above 30mph try to keep your windows closed as open windows decrease the aerodynamic potential of your car. If it’s really warm and you don’t want to use your air conditioning unit (because we told you not to above!) then open your windows no more than about 2cm. In fact, at higher speeds your air conditioning unit will probably be more fuel efficient than opening the windows fully and increasing drag resistance.
Tighten your fuel cap
Did you know that according to recent figures from the Car Care Council, loose, damaged or missing fuel caps cause 147 million gallons of petrol or diesel to evaporate every 12 months. What a waste! Make sure your fuel cap is on properly and if it’s missing or broken, get it fixed!
Plan your journey
Cut down the amount and distance you’re travelling by planning your journeys. Group together tasks such as picking up the kids from school and doing the shopping to make two journeys into one.
Drive less if you can
It’s an obvious one but consider driving less. Okay, leaving the car at home will clearly save money on fuel because you’re not using any but too often we get into the car when it’s unnecessary. Can you walk to the local shop instead of driving? Can you pick up the kids from school without driving? Can you walk the dog from your house instead of driving to another location and walking from there? Would you consider using public transport or riding a bike sometimes? Small ways to reduce the fuel your car uses will add up to big savings over the course of a year.
Using these fuel efficient driving techniques will help you save potentially hundreds of pounds per year. In the lifetime of your vehicle, the saving could be in the thousands.