The cost of motoring is spiralling and one of the biggest expenses is fuel.

Recent research by hire car company autoeurope claimed that the average motorist spends £89.67 per month on petrol – that’s a staggering £69,402 over a lifetime.

With the cost of petrol and diesel rising steadily it makes sense to squeeze as many miles as possible out of each tank.

Obviously, the best way to cut your fuel bill is to slash the number of miles you drive by walking, cycling, car-sharing or using alternative means, but if there’s no option there are ways to drive more economically…

Top eco-driving tips

  • Make sure your vehicle is regularly serviced and topped up with the correct type of engine oil so that it operates most efficiently. A poorly tuned engine could be using up to 50% more fuel. Check your handbook or ask your local dealer for the recommended service intervals and oil grade.
  • Check your tyre pressures. The energy lost when a tyre is moving is described as 'rolling resistance', and the lower it is, the better your fuel economy. A tyre with low pressure has a larger footprint on the road, which means a greater rolling resistance, so the engine has to work harder and more fuel is used.
  • Next time you buy a new tyre, take note of its rating. Tyres are now labelled A to G, with A as the best performing and G the worst. It's estimated that the difference in fuel consumption between the two could be as much as six litres every 625 miles.
  • Put your car on a diet because a lighter car will use less fuel. In other words, unless you regularly do long journeys, consider running half a tank of fuel instead of a full one, and don’t transport unnecessary heavy items in your boot. However, don’t be tempted to ditch your spare wheel and jack, if you have them!
  • Plan your journey. Use a map or sat-nav out to avoid getting lost and driving further than necessary, and avoid traffic black spots and peak times if possible so you don’t waste fuel in jams and slow traffic.
  • Challenge yourself not to use your car on shorter journeys. Walking and cycling isn’t just good for you, cold engines use more fuel however carefully you drive.
  • Try to drive smoothly by accelerating gently and reading the road ahead to anticipate the actions of other drivers and potential hazards. Ease your foot off the accelerator when approaching junctions or traffic lights, rather than slamming on the brakes.
  • Wind resistance increases fuel consumption, so try to keep your windows and sunroof closed at higher speeds and remove roof-racks, cycle carriers and roof-top cargo boxes when not in use.
  • Try to stick to the speed limits because driving faster uses more fuel. The AA estimates that driving at 70mph uses up to 9% more fuel than driving at 60mph and up to 15% more than at 50mph. Taking it up to 80mph can use up to 25% more fuel than at 70mph.
  • Air-conditioning increases fuel consumption, especially at low speeds, so if it’s a hot day open the windows at lower speeds and save the air con for high-speed driving. It’s estimated that using air-con can increase fuel consumption by as much as 10% because of the extra load on the engine. However, it’s advisable to run your a/c regularly to keep the system healthy.
  • The secret to achieving a high fuel economy is to drive at the lowest speed possible in the highest possible gear, so use your gears wisely. Aim to change up into a higher gear as soon as possible, but not so quickly that you strain the engine.
  • Keep an eye on your average miles per gallon, if indicated on your dashboard or on your touchscreen. Depending on the type of car you drive, it may also be possible to reset the trip meter, allowing you to compare different journey types.
  • If you want to take a more scientific approach you should fill the fuel tank, zero the trip meter and note the mileage. Now go on a long journey of say 100 miles, fill the tank again and note the amount of litres used. Finally divide the number of miles driven by the amount of fuel used.


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