How to reduce your motoring costs

Cut your motoring costs, without spending a cent…

Here are seven simple little tips to make your fuel go further when out and about driving, whether you’re in a petrol, diesel or hybrid vehicle.

1. Check tyre pressures

Under-inflated tyres increase drag on a car, which in turn leads to increased engine work-rate to keep the vehicle moving at regular road speeds. By making sure your tyres are properly inflated, you’ll save up to three per cent on fuel costs. Luckily, we’ve done a handy guide about tyre pressures already…

2. Remove clutter from the cabin

Excess weight is a fuel-economy killer, so don’t drive around with a load of needless junk in your car, especially if you’re travelling on your own. Clean out the passenger compartment, remove child seats if your child isn’t travelling with you and make sure the boot isn’t holding a load of stuff that it doesn’t need to.

3. Remove roof racks

Unless you need to actually carry something on your roof rack, take it off the car. It creates a huge amount of aerodynamic drag, meaning your fuel consumption can increase by as much as 10 per cent. It also makes an annoying whistling noise if you’re driving at motorway speeds and there’s nothing loaded into it, so it won’t just hit you in the wallet, it’ll get on your nerves, too.

4. Keep your cool… the correct way

Have air conditioning in your car? Then you probably think it’s the most efficient way to keep the passenger compartment cool at all times. But it isn’t. Running the A/C indirectly consumes extra fuel from the car’s resources and the belief is that, at town speeds (up to 50km/h), it’s more efficient to keep the cabin cool by opening the windows and switching the A/C off. However, at higher speeds, such as on the motorway, open windows and sunroofs have the same effect as that roof rack we mentioned earlier – they increase aerodynamic drag and that has a bigger effect on fuel consumption than using the air conditioning, so close up the cabin and switch back to the system if you’re travelling at speed.

5. Drive smoothly

Accelerating fast out of junctions, braking at the last possible second and failing to anticipate the manoeuvres of other road users/traffic at junctions and so on results in a less efficient way of driving. If you accelerate more gently up to speed and try and allow engine braking to do more of your deceleration, you’ll find your car becomes magically more economical. Also, when on motorways, try and keep a steady speed, rather than altering your cruising velocity all the time; one easy way to do this is use the car’s cruise control, if it’s fitted.

6. Drive at quieter times

Might seem obvious, this one, but if you can avoid travelling during periods of peak traffic flow, you’ll find your fuel goes further. Heavy, stop-start traffic requires more use of the throttle pedal, and thus more fuel being flowed into your engine. Linked to the ‘drive smoothly’ tip above, unless you’re an office-based commuter who has to be in work at 9am and leaves for home at 5pm, try and time your journeys for the middle of the day or later in the evening, if possible.

7. Don’t fill your car up to the max

This might appear to be the oddest advice we have given you yet, but it works. Unless you’re going on a long, long journey and you hate stopping at fuel stations, having a full tank of petrol or diesel simply isn’t necessary. Fuel has a weight, with a gallon of petrol clocking in at roughly 3.4kg and a gallon of diesel at 3.8kg, and so you will find that your car is more efficient when it is only filled with three-quarters, or half, or even a quarter of a tank of fuel than it is when it is fully laden. Yes, you’ll be stopping to refuel more often, but you won’t actually be spending any more money than you would be if you only go to half or three-quarters full each time you fill up.