Money-saving driving tips

Cars

Money-saving driving tips

By Martin Pratt

Feel like you're filling up your fuel tank every five minutes? Our guide shows you how to drive efficiently and make your fuel go further.

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Fuel economy is an important stat for any new car. As engines get greener and more frugal our expectations grow and now we expect even bulky 4x4s to have a reasonable mpg.

Fuel economy isn't all down to the car though - how you drive can have a big impact on how far a full tank will get you.

In this guide we've put together some quick tips to improve your fuel efficiency.

To discover how the cars we recommend performed in our independent fuel economy tests see our Best Buy cars.

How to use less fuel

1. Plan ahead

Hone your observation and anticipation skills. Plan routes before travelling and keep a close eye on the road ahead to avoid stopping unnecessarily when approaching lights or roundabouts. 

2. Use a sat nav

Sat navs, whether they are an app on your phone or a dedicated device, will show you the quickest route to your destination. They can also adjust on the fly to help you avoid traffic jams.

3. Smooth driving

Accelerate smoothly and minimise the number of gear changes. Ease off the gas where possible to lower fuel consumption, and use the highest gear available but without labouring the engine. It should help if you keep the revs between 1,500 and 2,500rpm (petrol engine) and 1,200 and 2,000rpm (diesel engine). 

4. Avoid hard braking

Braking uses fuel and it also means you'll need to use more to get your car up to speed again. Some harsh braking is inevitable, but if you're coming up to a set of traffic lights try and coast to a stop rather than braking. You may even find that you don't need to stop the car at all if the lights go green in time and you won't use as much fuel accelerating again.

5. Check tyre pressure

Make sure your tyres are at the correct pressure as stated in the car's handbook (or often on a sticker on the driver's door pillar). Under-inflated tyres can significantly reduce your car's fuel economy.

6. Reduce drag

Take roof racks and cycle carriers off when they’re not in use. Extra drag means your car will use up more fuel getting from A to B. Likewise, close any open windows when your speed increases.

7. Clean out your car

The weight of unnecessary junk in your car makes your engine work harder.

8. Don't warm up your engine

Don't leave your engine running on cold mornings - all you're doing is wasting fuel and wearing out your engine. If your windscreen is iced over use a scraper and some de-icer. Don't let your car do the work.

9. Maintain your car

Take your car for regular check-ups. A car with clean oil and fresh air filters will use less fuel.

10. Choose a greener car

The biggest difference you can make to your fuel bills is to buy an economical car in the first place. Manufacturer figures provide only a rough guide, however, our independent tests give you a more realistic figure.

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