Improving your car’s fuel economy

We’re all trying to save money one way or another. With fuel prices fluctuating, you may want to get the most out of your money when driving and increase your MPG. For most people buying a newer, fuel efficient car is out of the question unless you can wait for the fuel savings to benefit over the years. This handy guide will demonstrate some fuel efficiency savings to help you cut your driving costs.

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Discover your average MPG

Before you can start to determine what solution works best when it comes to fuel economy savings, you’ll need to determine what your average MPG rate is. Most modern cars today provide a computer display on your dashboard which calculates this for you. Otherwise if your car doesn’t have MPG statistics, follow these simple steps to determine your MPG:

  • Fill your car’s fuel right to the top of the tank (the pump will cut-off the fuel so don’t worry) and then reset your odometer’s trip counter before setting off.
  • Next time you need to fill-up, monitor the miles driven on the counter and also make a note of the litres/gallons of fuel you’ve filled up with.
  • Take the litres/gallons and miles reading you’ve gather and make this simple calculation, mileage ÷ gallons = MPG. If you wrote down the amount of litres you filled up, you can find out the equivalent in gallons by doing this sum, litres X 0.219969 = gallons.

Ease off the accelerator pedal

Applying slower and even pressure to the accelerator pedal is one of the easiest methods of fuel-saving and we can all do it. We’re not talking slowing down to a crawl on major roads here but slower acceleration is perfectly acceptable and you shouldn’t be intimidated by faster impatient vehicles behind you as long as you get up to the speed limit in reasonable time. Try to imagine you’ve got a hard boiled egg behind the accelerator pedal (please don’t take this literally!). You don’t want to crush it, so gently push the accelerator pedal. This will improve your fuel economy instantly, however it may take you a little longer to get where you’re going to.

Judge traffic and signals

This method is a little trickier to carry out and takes some time getting used to but you’ll find it really reaps rewards once you’ve got the hang of it. Keeping a good safe distance away from the vehicle in front of you will help you assess the traffic and signals approaching so you can slow down earlier taking your foot off the pedal and sometimes even prevent coming to a stand-still altogether. Done safely you can avoid the amount of braking necessary, avoid standing still at lights and keep your median speed up. DO NOT in any way think that disabling gears and ‘coasting’ is a safe fuel saving option – doing so can increase your braking distance, or worse still cause failure of your brakes on steep hills.

Look for the best fuel price in your area

There are many websites nowadays which provide information on the prices of fuel / petrol stations in your local area. Getting the best price without driving miles or making a slight detour on your normal commute could see you reap the benefits. You’ll also want to take advantage of the supermarket coupons which you may get from time-to-time saving pence off each litre. Don’t forget to ask friends and relatives if they have unused vouchers too which could help.

Turn off air conditioning

Most cars these days come with air conditioning as standard but being in the UK we’ll likely only need to really use it 2 months of the year. Air conditioning uses up plenty of fuel when left on. Therefore, make sure you switch your air con unit to the economy setting or turn it off completely when it’s really not necessary. Even when it is hot and you need to keep cool, it’s well known that turning off your air con and opening the windows at speeds under 30 mph will help. Of course anything over 30mph and you’re likely to find better fuel savings closing those windows and turning the air con back on when needed.

Don’t fill-up your car to the top!

Research has shown that filling your car up completely each time you refuel actually decreases fuel efficiency by 1%. In actual fact filling your car up to 3/4 of your fuel tank capacity each time will maximise your fuel economy in the long-run. Don’t run your car until it’s virtually empty either. Make sure you refuel on or slightly before the warning light comes on, otherwise the deposits in your fuel tank could go into your engine system and cause more damage than it’s worth.

Choose the right gear

Choosing the highest gear possible in your car without labouring will help you achieve better fuel efficiency. There is also evidence to suggest that in safe conditions, actually skipping a gear when accelerating helps with fuel economy. For instance going from 3rd gear to 5th gear, missing 4th can be achieved quite easily without your car labouring.

Check tyre pressures

You’d be surprised how many people forget to check their air in their tyres, especially when this is on of the easiest things to do to save money on your fuel since deflated tyres causes more drag. Just about every garage has a tyre inflator and gauge for your to check your pressures and it only costs a few pence for a few minutes of air. Sainsburys currently have free tyre pressure pumps but can be quite busy so turn the engine off! Inflating your tyres to the correct pressure could give you up to 3% in fuel efficiency.

Car share or car pool

Obvious we know but if you’re really struggling to make the fuel savings and know a colleague or friend on the same commute, sharing the travel will cut down your costs. There are lots of websites dedicated to car share schemes so even if you don’t have a friend to share with you can be safe and find a stranger to share your car with. In fact, Bath & North East Somerset Council promote these types of car sharing clubs:

Remove roof racks and clear out junk

Reducing the weight and air drag on the car will dramatically improve your fuel efficiency. Many people forget to take off roof racks which cause more airflow drag, slowing the car down and making you accelerate more. Others leave heavy objects in their car when they’re often not needed on every journey. You could be looking at fuel efficiency savings of around 2%!

More fuel saving tips on the way

We’ll keep updating this article with more fuel saving recommendations so keep checking back to discover what else you can do to cut your driving fuel costs. If you need any advice or assistance with your car in the Bath and Radstock area in the UK, please contact us we’d be delighted to help.