Many motorists are facing an unprecedented rise in the cost of petrol and diesel fuel and even experts are hard-pushed to say when the upward price spiral will end.
There is no getting around these pump prices but drivers can save money by driving more economically which will help them get more mileage out of the fuel they buy.
While the speed at which you drive is probably the key factor affecting fuel consumption, there are a number of ways to change driving that will have a major impact on the money you spend at the pump.
1. Check the tyres: Make sure your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure as indicated in the owner’s manual since both underinflated and overinflated tyres both adversely affect fuel economy.
Tyre pressures will vary depending on the load you are carrying: If you have four passengers and luggage then you will need your tyres inflated to the maximum recommended pressures.
2. Do not drive too fast: Driving too fast is the biggest fuel-guzzling factor so having a light right foot and ensuring all acceleration is gentle is very important to fuel-efficient driving.
Of course you will always have to accelerate during a journey, but that does not mean you have to pull away like you are on the starting grid at a grand pix.
Probably the biggest secret to squeezing the most mileage out of fuel is driving in the highest possible gear for your vehicle while keeping within the speed limit.
3. Change gear often: The best advice in urban areas is to change up through the gears as quickly as you can with the lowest revs possible, probably at around 2,000 revs per minute. Remember: The faster an engine spins, the more fuel it uses.
It also pays to watch out for how much you brake when driving.
Repeated, speedy acceleration and abrupt braking will drive up your fuel cost, as well as stress out people around you with unnecessary noise.
4. Drive smoothly: The best advice is to drive as smoothly a possible, gently using the steering, accelerator and brakes. When slowing down, it’s important to stay in gear as the fuel cut-off switch in a fuel injection engine is then activated, meaning virtually no fuel is used while braking.
5. Read the road well-ahead. This way you will see the traffic lights on red meaning you can ease back on the accelerator or slow down naturally and potentially keep moving as opposed to coming to a stop.
Driving up hills wrecks fuel economy. When you spot a hill coming try to accelerate a little before you reach it, then ease off as you drive up. The extra momentum should be enough to minimise additional fuel consumption.
6. Reduce drag: Don’t leave your roof rack and roof box on because they create wind resistance and cause your car to use more fuel through the “drag” effect. This goes up the faster you drive. Motoring with an open window also has a similar effect.
7. Lose dead weight: While this is not going to make the biggest difference to your economy figures it is clear that the heavier a vehicle is, the more fuel it will use. Removing any heavy objects you might unnecessarily be lugging around in the boot of your car is an easy way to save petrol costs.
8. Go easy on the air-con: Another money-saving effect, which is often overlooked, is the right approach to air conditioning. Tests show that running an AC in a car can increase fuel usage by up to 10 per cent since the compressor is driven by the petrol or diesel-consuming engine.
9. Turn off the cruise control: The cruise control is slower to react to gradient changes. This means that when reaching the brow of a hill – when you would normally take your foot off the accelerator to maintain a constant speed when descending – your cruise control will maintain the power for a tad longer since it cannot see the gradient in front. This uses more fuel.
10. Make more round trips: Try making one round trip rather than a series of short journeys. Once the engine is warm it will operate at its most efficient whereas several cold starts will push up fuel consumption even though the overall mileage could be the same.