Economical Driving

Making Your Fuel Go Further

black-red-tachometerWe have recently talked about how the cost of fuel is calculated and what affects the fluctuations in prices. For many of us, putting fuel into our vehicles is unavoidable as we need to get to work, drop the kids off and generally go about our daily business.

The type of car you drive has a lot to do with the fuel consumption you will experience, for instance, if you drive a BMW M5 5-series, you can expect a fuel consumption level of 28mpg, which would see you making regular trips to the petrol station and costing you a fair bit more than the likes of a Toyota Prius 1.8 VVTI which gives a whopping 72mpg! However, you can save a bit of money and fuel by the way you drive. We explore a few tips here to help you get the most out of your tank of fuel by driving a bit more economically.

Speed

Most cars perform best and give the best miles per gallon when they are travelling at 60 miles per hour. For every 5mph above that which you drive, you are losing approximately 6% of your fuel economy. Although in Ireland, our maximum speed limit is 120kph on major roads, remember this is a limit, not a target! By slowing down a little and allowing yourself extra time to get to your destination, you can run your car more efficiently.

Be careful with the lead boot! Keep your acceleration gradual and smooth and avoid slamming your foot to the floor in an attempt to sail along at maximum speed all the way. You will soon see your fuel gauge needle drop very quickly if you drive like this!

Similarly, the harder you accelerate, usually leads to hard breaking. You may not think it, but breaking hard can be as strenuous on your fuel as sticking the foot to the floor.

We understand that this may not sound like fun and a very old fashioned way to drive, you may consider giving it a try if you see the euro's being saved in your bank account rather than being pumped into fuel. This method is especially a good one to note for young drivers who may already be experiencing high insurance premiums, and may have less disposable income than someone older and in full time work. It might be seen as 'cool' to drive round at high speeds, but not only is this dangerous and potentially breaking the speed limit, you are throwing money away in petrol which can be easily saved through safe sensible driving.

Your Car

As we saw above, the type of car you drive will largely dictate the mile per gallon it produces. The obvious thing to do is to change to a car with a smaller engine and that gives better fuel economy. However before you start screaming and shouting, we do realise that this is not always possible and for many people, the large thirsty cars they drive are a result from the Celtic Tiger days when some of us bought brand new expensive large cars which no longer hold any value.

So, you are stuck with the car you have, but you can ensure you keep the car running efficiently through some simple tips.

  1. Maintain your car's engine and keep it running smoothly. A poorly tuned engine can use up to 50% more fuel.
  2. Ensure that you have no leaves and debris stuck in the air filter of your car and remove it for a clean every now and then. If the flow of air is blocked getting into the engine, then this can make your car labour and struggle causing more fuel to be used.
  3. Keep up with regular servicing from your garage to ensure your car is running in top condition and as efficiently as possible.
  4. Keep your tyres inflated to the recommended manufacturers PSI, this will help reduce your cars rolling resistance (the friction between your moving car and the road). Under inflated tyres can increase the friction and use extra energy and fuel.

Journeys

When possible, only use your car for necessary journeys. It may sound like a simple idea but it is surprising how many of us rely on our cars even for short journeys. The odd trip down to the local shops can use up valuable fuel so walk where possible or take public transport.

Car sharing is a good way to save fuel. Although you are in theory carrying extra weight in the car which does use a little bit extra fuel, it is surely more economical to use one car than two?

When you are venturing out somewhere where you are unsure of where you are going, be sure to plan your route and have a good idea of where you are heading. Did you know that it is estimated that 350,000 tonnes of fuel are wasted each year by motorists who don't know where they are going? That's a lot of petrol! Try and travel out of rush hour times as well to help improve fuel economy. If you are stuck in traffic, lots of stop and starts drains the fuel in your car.

If you are facing higher travelling costs and wish to watch the pennies, try eco-driving for a week and see how much fuel you can save. Done correctly, you will find that your mpg increases and you have to re-fuel less often.