How to cut your fuel consumption

After a few of months of relative stability it looks as if drivers could once again be facing steep fuel price rises. The toxic combination of a weak pound and rising wholesale prices on international markets is threatening to bump up the cost of filling-up by as much a 5p per litre. There’s also a fear that speculators are ‘betting’ on rising fuel prices and manipulating markets accordingly. If this is the case, we could also fall victim to prices being forced higher for personal and corporate gain – which would be pretty hard to swallow. Faced with this perfect storm, it’s vital to keep an eye on fuel consumption and cut back where necessary. So here are some top tips to help cut the amount of fuel you use in your car…

petrol pump

Don’t drive as much

It may sound blindingly obvious, but the best way to cut your fuel consumption is to simply cut down on the number of miles you drive. This doesn’t mean you have to take a sudden interest in public transport timetables. You could simply share the daily commute with a colleague and combine several errands into one trip. Doing this will not only cut your fuel costs, it will also reduce the wear and tear on your vehicle.

Watch how you drive

If you can’t cut down on the amount you drive (or even if you can), make sure your driving technique is conducive to fuel efficiency. This means no heavy braking, harsh accelerating or excessive speeding – driving at 70mph uses up to 9% more fuel than driving at 60mph and up to 15% more than motoring along at 50mph. Go above the national speed limit and it gets even more pronounced: driving at 80mph means you could be using up to 25% more fuel than if you were going at 70mph.

Go easy on the air-con

You may not be aware, but whacking on the air-con to keep cool can increase your fuel consumption by as much as 25%, according to the National Energy Foundation. So, although it may not keep you quite as cool, you’re better off opening the air vents and driving with the windows down. However, if you’re travelling at speeds of more than 60mph you’ll actually be better off using the air-con as having the windows open at high speeds massively increases drag and uses even more fuel.

Check your tyres

A recent study from the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) found that over half of us don’t check our tyre pressures regularly, which is bad news becasue under-inflated tyres increase resistance and raise fuel consumption. Letting your tyre pressure drop below the recommended pressure by just six PSI can increase fuel consumption by 20% and tyre wear by 30%. So you check your car’s manual and carry out a weekly tyre pressure check to make sure they’re pumped up to the correct pressure. If not, get down to your local petrol station and get them inflated.

Keep your car serviced

When you’re checking your tyres you should also check your coolant and oil levels to make sure your engine is topped up with all the fluids it needs and is working as efficiently as possible. You should also have your car professionally serviced every year, or as per your handbook’s guidelines, as dirty air filters and dirty oil can all have a negative effect on fuel consumption.

Shed excess weight

Your car’s fuel consumption will increase by about 1% for every extra 25kg in weight your car is carrying, so make sure you shed any excess weight such as roof racks and removable seats, as well as any unnecessary boot luggage you may be carrying around. A recent YouGov study carried out on behalf of Shell found that almost a quarter (22%) of British motorists use their boot as permanent storage space, with one in 10 admitting they never clear out their car’s luggage space. If you’re wondering what sorts of things people lug round with them on their daily commute, then check out part three of the MoneySuperMarket Battle of the Sexes, Junk in the Trunk. References http://www.moneysupermarket.com/c/news/how-to-beat-high-fuel-costs/0016244/ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/news/9596918/Clutter-in-the-boot-wastes-fuel.html http://www.theguardian.com/money/2009/jul/04/save-on-petrol-costs

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