We just can’t seem to escape the rising costs of motoring these days.
Rising fuel prices make the news all too often and it, more than any other,
forms the largest proportion of our motoring expenses.
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While we can’t escape rising fuel costs, we are not entirely defenceless. There is much we can do to reduce the amount of hard-earned cash we pour into our fuel tanks. Here are some simple fuel-saving tips we can adopt for every journey:
• Firstly, the three major rules we all should adopt – drive smoothly, accelerate gently and read the road ahead to avoid unnecessary braking. ‘It’s common sense’, I hear you say. Of course it is, but common sense isn’t as common as we think it is.
• Avoid excessive speeds and do keep to the speed limits. Driving at 70mph can use up to 8 per cent more fuel than at 65mph. Mind you, that doesn’t mean you can be a numpty and drive at 30 in a 60.
• If you have cruise control, use it – it reduces consumption. In my job as an automotive writer, I drive many thousands of miles every year and I’ve proven the fuel-saving benefits of cruise-control many times over. “But I can drive more efficiently than a computer,” I hear you shout.
No, you can’t.
• Check your tyre pressures regularly and follow the recommended pressures set by the car’s manufacturer. Under-inflated tyres equals drag resistance which requires your engine to work harder by burning more fuel to maintain the desired momentum. Recommended pressures can often be found on a plate inside the driver’s door frame or the owner’s manual (yes chaps, there IS a manual).
• Nearly all cars sold these days have engine stop/start eco systems fitted as standard, But, if your car doesn’t have that feature, turn the engine off if you think you’ll be stationary for quite a while (at a rail crossing, for instance). Yes, you may use your smug face in the knowledge others have PAID for their stop/start eco feature when all you’ve really done is turn the engine off.
• Change up to a higher gear as soon as possible without making the engine labour or vibrate. Diesels, because of their wider torque band, can change up a gear when revs reach around 1,500-2,000rpm. For most petrol cars, changing up at around 2,000-2,500rpm would be about right.
• On a down slope, don’t be tempted to put the car in neutral because it won’t save you fuel. In neutral, the engine is at idle so is still using fuel. In gear – but not under power, electronic fuel systems cut off fuel to the engine which then turns over under its own force of geared momentum, while using no fuel at all. The same principle happens when you lift your foot off the accelerator…no fuel is used then either. Combine these two benefits and you begin to understand how important it is to read the road ahead.
• Shed excess weight. The lighter your car the less fuel it needs to burn to maintain momentum. Remove heavy or unnecessary items such as roof racks if they not being used. During these winter months, snow and ice equals water and water equals weight so remove it from your car before setting off. Besides being illegal, blocks of snow and ice falling from your car as you pootle along is a danger to those behind you.