Fuel Efficiency Driving Tips – Economical Driving Habits
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Fuel Efficiency Driving Tips – Economical Driving Habits

Petrol prices are always in the news, a few pence difference on your gallon of fuel can make a big difference to your motoring budget over a year. In the last few years the price of petrol sunk as low as £1.10 a litre in April 2020 to eye watering highs of £1.95 a litre in July 2022.

Makes us a bit giddy to look back at petrol prices 20 years ago when they were sat at 75p a litre. We get even giddier when the author of this post mentions he used to put £2 worth of petrol in his Nissan Micra back in 1990 and easily go 60 miles! However petrol back then was 40p a litre. Even EV’s these days can’t even get close!

In recent months the price has slowly fallen – though for many it was raised far too quickly, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the Covid bounceback to blame. However it’s been too slow for some and even though dropping it is hovering around £1.42 per litre – though this price heavily depends on where you buy your diesel or petrol.

Motor fuel prices then continue to be as unpredictable as the oil market so here’s 5 top tips for you to get the most for your money!

Stay Aerodynamic

Wind resistance results in higher fuel consumption by creating drag, meaning the car has to use more power to move – there are simple ways to make your car more aerodynamic:

  • Keep your windows and sunroof closed when you’re on fast roads (air conditioning can use more fuel than you might think, on hot days keep the windows open instead whilst out and about on slower UK roads)
  • Remove roof racks, bars or any other attachments that aren’t in use – they usually generate more drag resulting in more fuel being used
  • Reducing the weight of your car is a great way to save fuel – empty your boot of golf clubs, caddies and other common offenders!
  • Fuel itself similarly adds weight to your car, filling your tank only half way helps reduces this extra weight – if you tend to drive more miles then fill up to 3/4 of your tank.

Anticipate Your Journey

Route planning plays a big part in fuel consumption, by trying out new routes you can establish the fastest route with the lowest volume of traffic:

  • If you can avoid it – don’t drive during rush hour, as lots of starting and stopping uses more fuel than a constant low speed.
  • Plan out your route before you travel, there may be less congested routes that you have overlooked. Use Google Maps to help you – it suggests the most fuel efficient route which is a clever feature.
  • Ensure to use the ‘traffic updates’ feature on your car’s radio or Sat Nav if you have one.
  • Take note of the cheaper petrol stations in your area – try to avoid topping up on the motorway where petrol and diesel can be up to 12p more expensive per litre.
  • Try to combine numerous small trips into fewer bigger ones.
  • If it’s windy then you will burn more fuel driving into a headwind so check the weather, if you can change route or timings to allow for the wind this could help you reduce your fuel costs.

Slow Down!

The AA estimates that travelling at 80mph uses up to 25% more fuel than travelling at 70mph. Plus you are breaking the speed limit.

  • Accelerate smoothly and avoid over revving your engine – it’s recommended you change gear at 2,000 revs for a petrol engine and 2,500 for a diesel
  • Use a suitable gear, try to get into a higher gear as soon as you can (without labouring the engine) – being in a low gear at a high speed causes far higher revs and in the long term could cause damage to your engine
  • Be wise when overtaking – sometimes its unavoidable but try not to speed past somebody just to meet them at the next set of lights down the road… we understand the frustration but you won’t lose a huge amount of time, certainly on a shorter trip
  • Braking hard increases fuel consumption, anticipate traffic ahead and if you accelerate and slow down smoothly you’ll use less fuel
  • Many people revert to ‘coasting’ in a car to save fuel – this is effectively placing the car in neutral and letting the vehicle roll along. In theory it seems a good idea but many modern cars have an ECU which controls the fuel being used anyway so leave it in gear.

Keep Your Car Well Maintained

Keeping your vehicle in tip top condition improves fuel economy by maintaining engine efficiency and can also prevent you from forking out lots of money on problems that emerge from a poorly serviced vehicle

  • Book your car in for a service, most professional car mechanics recommend you do so at least once a year or every set amount of miles as per your vehicles handbook
  • Check your tyre pressure regularly, especially before and after long journeys – it amazes us to see how many car tyres are under inflated!
  • Keeping your tyres in good condition can reduce fuel consumption by 2%

Ditch your Car!

At first thought it seems easier said than done! We Brits do like to drive… 😉

The unrivalled champion of fuel saving tips is to stretch those legs and enjoy the unpredictable British weather – if your destination is far away you can use other alternatives:

  • Car sharing effectively halves the amount of fuel you use – and gives you the chance to sit back and relax on your journey to work
  • Using public transport can be a viable option for any commute, investing in a railcard or bus pass will save you money if you’re a frequent traveller
  • Park and ride schemes incorporate both public transport and driving, usually costing less than fuel and reducing congestion in busy cities or large towns.

These tips don’t need to be followed religiously to make a difference, try to incorporate a few in your driving style and see how much fuel you save – the AA predict it can be up to 35% though this depends on how you drove before.

The Myths About Saving Fuel

Here are a few common misconceptions and myths around fuel economy that won’t make a difference to your fuel saving efforts:

  1. Does having the radio on consume fuel?

In a BP study 10% of drivers thought this was true – it’s not.

  1. Do cars with larger engines use more fuel?

No, generally cars with smaller engines use more fuel as the smaller engine needs to work harder to get the car moving though if you’re driving a 5 litre V8 this statement doesn’t really stand.

  1. Does a car use more fuel as it gets older?

Not necessarily, whilst a cars fuel economy may decrease slightly with age – if it’s properly maintained you will see little difference over time.

  1. A manual car is more economical than an automatic

No this is not true as modern automatics can often be more economical than a manual transmission vehicle.

Does your vehicle need a Service?

If you think it’s about time your car had a service contact us today on 01291 627137 to find out more about our servicing and MOT testing.


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