Cheap Petrol & Diesel Cut prices & improve fuel efficiency
While diesel is now cheaper than petrol at some pumps for the first time in a decade, the price of both has risen since the start of the year. Yet it’s possible to drive down the cost by buying in the right place in the right way.
Of course, the trite answer to cutting petrol bills is to use your car less, walk more or take public transport – and all that benefits the environment too. Yet even if you need to do the same mileage, you can slash your costs hugely, and use speedy, pain-free tricks to improve your car’s fuel efficiency.
Step 1: Make your car more fuel-efficient
Lower tyre pressure increases the drag on a car, meaning you need more fuel, so regularly check the pressures are correct and your car needs less oomph to keep it moving.
Declutter your carFuel efficiency improvement: Up to 2%
The lighter your car is, the less effort it needs to accelerate. By decluttering, clearing out junk from the boot, and not carrying unnecessary weight, you can save more. On average, every extra 50kg you ride around with ups your petrol by 2% – and this could be even more in smaller cars.
Take your roof rack offFuel efficiency improvement: Up to 10%
A roof rack, even unused, adds wind resistance to a car, increasing drag and making the engine work harder. The RAC estimates a roof rack can affect fuel consumption by a whopping 10%. If you don’t need it, take it off, along with anything else inefficient. Even closing the windows will make the car run slightly more efficiently.
Turn off air con at lower speedsFuel efficiency improvement: Up to 10%
Newer cars are getting better on this, but air conditioning still uses an incredible amount of fuel – so make sure it’s turned off unless you really need it.
The general consensus is it’s more efficient to drive with the windows down and the air con off at lower speeds, but at higher speeds it’s better to use the air con and keep windows up due to the extra drag caused by having windows down. At motorway speeds air con can affect fuel consumption by about 3 to 4%, whereas it can be up to 10% in stop and start traffic.
If you’re not using your air con, it’s worth turning it on once in a while as not using it can mean it stops working. Also, don’t keep the engine running. Drive off as soon as you start up and switch off the engine as soon as you reach your destination. Turn your engine off where possible, eg, in traffic or during big delays on motorways.
Don’t fill it upFuel efficiency improvement: Up to 1%
Fuel is heavy, so by filling the car up you’re adding quite a weight. The less fuel your car has in it, the more efficiently it drives. If you fill up slightly more often and put less in (to 1/2 or 3/4 full), it’ll make the car run more efficiently.
Step 2: Drive more efficiently
You can drive the same distance in the same time using much less fuel, chopping up to 30% OFF your fuel costs, but without cutting your top speed. It’s about driving more smoothly to boost your fuel efficiency.
- Accelerate gradually without over-revving
Speed up smoothly. If you press harder on the pedal, more fuel will flow – but you can reach the same speed using much less power. As a rough rule, stay under 3,000 revs. Plus, if you think about it, if you accelerate too quickly, chances are you’ll then have to break hard, which isn’t exactly efficient.
- Drive in the correct gear
Always drive in the highest gear possible without labouring the engine. So change up much earlier than feels natural. Again, a very rough guide (though it varies wildly with each car) is not to go over 3,000 revs.
- Slow naturally
Rather than brake all the time, let your car slow naturally and use its stored momentum. Plus, roll where you can – rolling uses less fuel than stopping and starting the engine.
- Think about road position
To do all this takes road awareness. The more alert you are, the better you can plan ahead and move gradually.
In many ways, this all comes down to one little rule of thumb.
Every time you put your foot on the accelerator, remember the harder you press, the more fuel you spend.
Just being conscious of this, and your road position, should massively increase how far you can drive on a tank of petrol. It’s estimated someone who averages 35 miles per gallon could reach 40mpg by driving better, a near-15% saving.
- Accelerate gradually without over-revving