Top 10 tips to battle rising fuel pricesTackle the VAT and fuel duty rises with these tips
19 January 2011
Filling your car up at the pumps has become a more expensive routine in the past two weeks, following the VAT increase and the fuel-duty rise earlier this month.
And with a second fuel duty rise due to go ahead in April, it doesn’t look like running your car is going to get any cheaper in the near future.
With this in mind, we’ve devised our top 10 tips on how to counter the rising price of petrol and diesel.
These may seem like simple procedures, but you’ll find they will all add up to make a difference to your annual fuel spend.
Read our guide to finding cheaper fuel
Ensure your tyre pressures are correct
Under-inflated tyres develop more rolling resistance than correctly inflated tyres, so you’ll have to work your engine slightly harder when there isn’t enough air in them. Checking tyre pressures regularly will prevent this happening, and you should always check them before you go on a long journey.
If you need new tyres, read our guide to buying cheap tyres
Be prepared for your journey
Planning ahead is an essential key to reducing fuel consumption. If you’re travelling somewhere you’re unfamiliar with, make sure you have planned your route well to stop you from getting lost and wasting fuel. A sat nav could also help, provided you ensure you've plotted the best route before setting off. If you’re only making a short trip, consider walking or using a bicycle. If not, try to combine a number of short journeys as cold starts are highly inefficient.
Lose unnecessary weight
This doesn’t mean removing doors and passenger seats in Top Gear style; we’re referring to the contents of your boot that you may be carrying but don’t need. So simply carry remove all unnecessary equipment. Roof racks and boxes and bicycle carriers all add weight, even when not being used. External additions like these will also increase wind resistance, and so increase fuel consumption.
Don’t start the car too soon
Starting the engine before you’re ready to leave is a practice most of us are guilty of. Try to ensure you have everything packed and you’ve not forgotten something before getting into the car. Simple things like scraping ice off the windscreen, instead of starting the car and letting it idle while the heated screen clears the ice, will save you fuel.
Turn equipment off
The biggest sapping item of equipment in most modern cars is the air con. Only use it when you really have to, which isn’t too often in this country. The same goes for the heated rear screen, demisters and headlights – if you don’t need them, switch them off.
Rethink your driving style
Aggressive and enthusiastic drivers tend to use more fuel than they have to. Driving smoothly, accelerating and braking gradually and generally reading the road in front to stop you from having to brake unnecessarily will all improve efficiency.
Learn how to drive more efficiently with our eco-driving tips videos
Go up the gears earlier
Every car will be different, but there will be a happy medium between opting for a higher gear earlier and not labouring the engine too much. Red-lining the engine won’t improve your efficiency. Try changing up a gear 2000rpm earlier than you usually do to see if the engine can cope with this.
Try not to stop and start
Starting and stopping uses up more fuel than rolling along at a slower speed. So, when there is a short queue ahead, slow down in advance so you can keep the car moving all the time; this is especially important in busy town driving, when you could encounter heavy traffic. The exception here is when you’re in a long cue that looks likely to keep you at a standstill for a prolonged period of time – if this is the case, switch the engine off and don’t let it idle.
Stick to the speed limits
The faster you drive, the higher your fuel consumption will be. Department for Transport (DfT) figures show that driving on the motorway at 80mph uses 25% more fuel than driving at 70mph. Travelling at 70mph instead of 60mph in an open speed limit zone will use 9% more fuel, and an additional 5% more than driving at 50mph.
Keep up your car maintenance
Ensuring your car is in prime working condition will have a big effect on your fuel consumption. Having the car serviced regularly will maintain your engine's efficiency, and keeping an acceptable level of the correct engine oil will also help make your car run properly.
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