How Can I Save More Fuel When I drive?

The list of things that affect the true cost of car ownership is depressing; insurance, tax, tyres, MOTs, repairs, breakdowns, parking fines… but the AA confirm that fuel expenditure is the biggest of all.

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Four factors determine how much you’ll spend: vehicle efficiency (mpg), miles, fuel prices, and driving style.

Annoyingly, the first is hardest to estimate because manufacturers supply misleading information. According to the AA, “the more economical a car is to run on paper, the greater the gap between official figures and actual fuel consumption”.

This discrepancy can be as high as 45%. The average is 20%, which means that at current prices (£5.45/gallon) an average car costs £2,180/year in petrol. You could treat the whole family to decent pushbikes for the petrol costs alone.

Driving and Car-care Habits Make a Difference

Reducing speed from 80mph to 70mph improves fuel efficiency by a cool 25%. If you drive mostly on motorways that’s your MOT and insurance recovered (dropping from 70mph to 60mph saves another 10%).

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Brakes

Braking is bad. We don’t want to talk you out of it completely but the more you speed up and then have to brake the more petrol you waste. The traffic lights will wait for you.

Wind

Ask any cyclist how much difference wind resistance makes to energy consumption! Although nobody inside a car thinks about it, putting off a long drive until the wind is behind you leaves cash in your wallet.

Stay aerodynamic by closing windows and removing roof-racks (rooftop cargo adds 20% to fuel consumption).

Battery

Batteries that are sluggish to charge cause your alternator to steal more of the car’s energy, increasing fuel consumption. Upgrade to a superior battery like the Odyssey PC680 starter battery available from http://www.grovesbatteries.co.uk.

Gears

Most motorists let their engines rev to about 3,000rpm before changing gear. Changing earlier saves petrol. Automatics don’t help, they are 10% worse.

Tyres

Factory gate tyres are chosen for their racy feel not economy. When a change is due do a little research. Low tyre pressures increase drag, so keep them hard.

Weight

A great deal of a car is just dead weight round your waist you have to lug everywhere. It isn’t good for you, nor your car. Empty the boot, even throw out the rear seats (if nobody’s sitting in them).

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