Top tips for increasing your fuel efficiency

As we get closer to summer, more and more of us will be using our car for long journeys, from visits to relatives to days out to holidays. But unexpected fuel costs can leave your trip with a sting in the tail. How can you take the road trip you want without it costing at the pumps?

  1. Make one longer trip instead (especially in cold weather!)

Cold engines use a lot more fuel- as much as 22% more on petrol & 31% on hybrid cars. This isn’t just because of all the extra electrics we use to keep warm on cold days- your engine needs to hit around 90 degrees to reach maximum fuel efficiency. Making, say, three short trips during the course of your day lets your engine cool- each time you set off it needs to hit that bracket of maximum fuel efficiency all over again: using more fuel than necessary. Roll your short errands into one round trip and you’ll save fuel, and perhaps time on the road too.

 

  1. Shed weight

A common if gung-ho suggestion from high-end motoring writers, who seem to cite prolonged carrying of golf clubs as a cause of low fuel efficiency (who carries golf clubs?!) and suggest ditching everything from maps and loose change to kid’s toys and boxes of tissues.

The risk here is that while shedding weight will reduce fuel use, bear in mind that in the event of a breakdown, you’ll be glad of that spare tyre. So before you chuck it in the garage where it will almost certainly do you no good, try to weigh this against how much you’re willing to be without in the event of the unexpected. Of course, if you’re going away in summer you can probably ditch the snow shovel though.

 

  1. Go aerodynamic

Still sporting those wing mirror extensions? How about lugging around your roof rack? Cut back on that wind resistance and you’ll save fuel. Closing the sunroof may also have an effect- although estimates on this vary wildly. It has been widely accepted that air conditioning uses less fuel than the extra burned dealing with the wind resistance of having windows down- though the US  TV show Mythbusters has disputed this.

 

  1. Plan your journey

This is sensible advice from any angle- a spontaneous road trip might sound great but can lead to unexpected problems. Do you know where to get fuel at any time of day? Will you have enough in the tank to tackle steep climbs? How about rush hour traffic?

 

  1. Keep it smooth

Going over 50mph might make for a great driving experience and get you where you need to go- but it’s terrible for fuel efficiency. Going from 50 to 60 increases fuel consumption 12%, while going to 70 it’s 25%, and 80 it’s 36%.

fuel gauge

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