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Eight top tips for fuel efficient driving

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Written by:
16/09/2015
While the price of petrol and diesel is currently around 15p a litre cheaper than a year ago, there’s no reason not to drive in a fuel efficient way.

Despite the fall in petrol and diesel prices over the past 12 months, fuel costs remain motorists’ chief concern, with 10 per cent of drivers surveyed for the RAC’s Report on Motoring 2015 ranking it as their biggest worry. The cost of filling up an average 55-litre petrol or diesel car is still £61, and some families do this twice monthly.

The following tips for fuel efficient driving, compiled by motoring journalist Andrew Frankel and racing driver Rebecca Jackson, will help drivers make their tanks go further. In June this year, the pair set a new world record for the most countries driven to on a single tank of fuel, travelling through 14 European states – a distance of 1,159 miles – in the process.

Top tips for fuel efficient driving

Slowest speed, highest gear

The secret to achieving a high mpg figure is driving at the lowest speed possible, in the highest gear possible. This optimum fuel economy speed will differ for every car (for instance, the Audi A6 Ultra’s was 52mph in seventh gear on the flat).

While there is an optimal speed, road conditions and gradients don’t often allow for it, so motorists must improvise and learn to adjust their driving according to the road ahead. Also, if a driver was to maintain one speed, either manually or by using cruise control, they would never achieve maximum fuel economy.

Maintain momentum

Keeping a car moving is key to fuel economy. This depends on traffic conditions and what’s happening on the road, but slowing down and accelerating again uses more fuel, as does driving up a steep incline. Drivers must judge not just the gradient of a hill, but its likely duration too.

Lighten the load

Unnecessary items in a boot add weight to a vehicle, which affects fuel economy. On average, every 50kg will increase fuel consumption by 2 per cent. This is based on the percentage of extra weight relative to a vehicle’s weight, meaning it affects smaller vehicles more than larger ones.

Don’t get dragged down

Don’t leave roof bars on, as they create wind resistance and cause a car to use more fuel through the ‘drag’ effect. Roof bars tend to weigh between 3kg to 5kg, but the aerodynamic factor is greater. An empty roof rack affects fuel consumption by about 10 per cent.

Keep the pressure up

Ensure tyres are inflated to the correct pressure as indicated in the owner’s manual. This will vary depending on the load you are carrying: with four passengers and luggage, tyres will need to be inflated to the maximum recommended pressures.

Warm engine

Consider making one round trip, rather than several short trips.

Once the engine is warm it will operate at its most efficient, whereas several cold starts will increase fuel consumption even though the total mileage could be the same.

Lose your cool

Don’t use air conditioning unless totally necessary, as it uses engine power and thus increases fuel consumption.

Don’t forget the basics

Regular maintenance and servicing improves efficiency, and can therefore improve fuel consumption.

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