How to drive efficiently to save money on fuel
With the price of fuel hitting record highs recently many of us would be staring intently at the MPG number our car is achieving and wondering how we can improve it. Well, here are some of the most effective ways to increase your MPG and use less fuel.
For these examples we’ll be using average figures for the price of fuel at the time of writing (15th July) of 190.65 pence per litre for petrol and also an average of 13,500 miles travelled per year and an average mpg of 40.
Simply put, changing gear early increases your fuel economy. When you’re driving along, your car will be experiencing resistance from many sources. You’re fighting air resistance, gravity from hills and mechanical from the drivetrain. The engine’s job is to produce enough power to overcome these resistances and either keep the car moving or allow the car to accelerate.
The sweet spot for driving with the highest efficiency is in a high load but low RPM state. This reduces resistance by having the throttle open wider and reducing mechanical resistance by having a lower RPM.
It is worth mentioning that shifting too early can also count against this as you can cause the engine to lug, asking it to drive on unnaturally low RPM.
Follow the speed limit!
Reducing your speed can have huge effects on your fuel consumption. As we mentioned above with wind resistance and mechanical resistance, the faster you drive, the more air is going to be holding you back. Alongside this, your RPM will also be increased. Studies have shown that travelling at 80mph compared to 70mph can raise your fuel consumption by up to 25 per cent!
This may not sound like a huge difference, but considering the average fuel price of 167.40 pence per litre and the average mileage of 13,500, your average fuel spend should be £2568.43, based on achieving 40MPG and driving at 70mph. Compared to an incredible £3424.57 per year, or a difference of £856.14 per year when driving at 80mph.
Check tyre pressures
Under inflated tyres can increase the effect of drag on your car, leading to more resistance when driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration(NHTSA) in the USA found that every 1 per cent decrease in tyre pressure constituted a 0.3 per cent reduction in fuel economy. Under inflating the tyres by 10 per cent increases fuel consumption by 2 per cent.
Again, while this doesn’t sound like a lot, it definitely adds up! In this case, using the same numbers as the speed limit test, it could save you £65.83 a year just by checking those tyres!
It is worth mentioning that the more air you put in your tyres, does not equal more fuel economy, over inflating your tyres will make the driving experience horribly uncomfortable and also dangerous! Always use the pressures given in the vehicle handbook, or sometimes these can be found on the driver’s side on a little stamp in the door shut.
Check your brakes!
Staying on the topic of resistance (you’ll notice a theme) your brakes could be taking your MPG! If your brakes are grabbing or rubbing, they will be making your engine work harder.
Testing your brakes for rubbing can be quite straightforward, they’ll most likely be making a scraping or grinding noise. If you hear this, then you should have them inspected and fixed.
Take out excess weight
Less weight means using less fuel! With less weight bogging your car down, there is less resistance, we said there would be a trend.
Use ECO modes
Economy modes on cars are everywhere, you’ll sometimes wonder what they even do, and between manufacturers, they can differ. But here are some of the ways the help you save fuel.
Firstly, they usually restrict your throttle or power, helping you upshift earlier to save some fuel.
Some eco modes offer ongoing tips, like which gear to select or how much pressure to place on the accelerator pedal.
Eco modes can even reduce air con usage and limit your speed. All of these features allow you to eek even more MPG out of your car.
Anticipating your driving can drastically increase your MPG as accelerating is the biggest killer of fuel efficiency. If you imagine you’re driving along and see you’re approaching a set of traffic lights and you were to lift off the accelerator, you could gradually slow down and the lights may change, allowing you to keep moving, removing the need to come to a stop and build up speed all over again.
This is why you will see lorries on the motorway leave large gaps and crawl along as they waste a massive amount of fuel setting off from a standstill.
Take off those roof boxes and bars!
According to Energy Saving Trust, travelling at 75mph with roof bars attached to your car will reduce MPG by 16 per cent, and a roof box affects your MPG by as much as 39 per cent!
Meaning, that over an average year of driving, not removing your roof box can increase your fuel bill by £1712.28 basing it on an average 40MPG! And even roof bars can cost you an extra £453.26!
Now each of these tips can add up to a huge increase in MPG, which equates to an increase in money for you to spend on things you actually want to spend money on! If you currently don’t do any of the tips above, using the same average fuel cost, 13,500 yearly mileage and 40MPG, the tips combined could save you an incredible £4769.97 a year! If you don’t take off your roof box, don’t look after your tyres and drive faster than you should that is.
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