Saving on fuel costs

Three times world champion Formula One driver Jackie Stewart has been quoted as saying that we should ‘Drive like the world’s finest chauffeur’, and he’s right. Driving a car properly and economically is all about smoothness. Sudden acceleration, braking and not anticipating what the traffic is doing costs petrol. Dr. Dick Turner’s book, Energy Conservation Through Advanced Driving Techniques asks drivers to imagine that an egg is positioned between the foot and the accelerator pedals. So don’t make too many omelettes. Research reveals that a smoother driving style saves 10% in urban areas and 6% out of town.

7 ways to save fuel

  • Go on a diet. The more weight a car has to move around the more fuel it uses. Clear out the boot and interior of unwanted clutter. Also if you are not using a roof rack, ski box or trailer – take them off. You will get fewer miles per litre with a fully loaded roof rack.
  • Plan your journeys. Time spent getting lost and finding your way again will waste fuel.
  • Check that your tyre pressures are as the manufacturer recommends in the car’s handbook. If the pressure is 4-6psi below the correct pressure fuel consumption suffers by 2-3%.
  • Turn off. If you are stationary in traffic for more than a minute turn off the engine. Not only are you doing no miles to the litre at idle, subsequently restarting the car uses less fuel.
  • Get going. Modern cars do not need to be warmed up. Start the car and move off ASAP. Don’t leave the car running while you organise the boiled sweets or wait for someone to get in. Start the car and get into the highest gear you can as soon as possible. At 37mph in third gear you will be using 25% more fuel than in fifth gear.
  • Every ancillary component that you switch on, whether it is the radio, air conditioning or electric windows drains power and fuel.
  • Service your car. Sounds obvious, but skimping on basic maintenance means that the car will be operating much less efficiently and that means poor fuel consumption.

Calculate your consumption

You won’t know if your new driving style and practices are working unless you know how many litres you get per mile. Some cars may have on-board computers, which are not always accurate. First fill the tank, zero the trip meter and note the mileage. Go on a long journey, 50-100 miles. Fill the tank again and note the amount of litres taken. Finally divide the number of miles driven by the amount of fuel used.

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