A growing number of people are doing it tough as the cost of living in many countries continues to rise, with high electricity prices in particular forcing families to find ways to lower their consumption – such as taking shorter showers, turning off lights, and even scaling back the usage of power-hungry devices such as air-conditioners.
The cost of running the family car is also at an all-time high, especially when you consider the price of fuel hovers around the highest it has ever been. But just like in the home, there are ways to help minimise the amount of energy your vehicle is using, and more importantly, save money.
Tip #1: Lighten your right foot
It may come as no surprise that the first tip for saving fuel doesn’t relate to the vehicle at all, but rather your right foot and how you use it. The way you drive can have a massive impact on the fuel economy figure your vehicle returns, and there are a few things to keep in mind if you want to improve it.
For starters, if you’re pulling away from the traffic lights at full throttle, or faster than the majority of others, chances are you’re wasting petrol. On the other side of the coin, it is also important to remember that every time you use the brakes, you’re literally burning money. Think about it – you burnt a particular amount of fuel (energy) to get your vehicle up to speed, and when you need to slow down, the brakes on your vehicle are removing that speed and converting it into heat. That is speed you paid for. And while it would be silly (and dangerous) to never use the brakes in your vehicle, you can use this knowledge to adapt your driving style to suit.
For example, if you’ve noticed the traffic lights up ahead are about to turn red, don’t race up to them and then jump on the brakes in the last few seconds. Instead, try lifting off the accelerator early and letting your vehicle gradually slow down as you approach. The benefits of this are two-fold. Firstly, you’re using engine braking (instead of your actual brakes) to slow the vehicle down, which uses little to no fuel at all; and secondly, the lights may turn green before you get there – meaning you can simply continue on your way.
Tip #2: Check your tyre pressures
Checking your tyre pressures is also another easy way to improve your vehicle’s fuel economy, but sadly many drivers fail to do this on a regular basis. If your tyre pressures are low, you will be increasing the rolling resistance of the tyre on the road and that will have a negative impact on your vehicle’s fuel economy. Locate the tyre pressure placard on your vehicle and inflate the tyres to the correct pressure using the air pump at your local petrol station. It won’t cost you a cent.
Tip #3: Trim the fat
No, this one isn’t about losing weight, but rather getting rid of everything on or in your vehicle which you simply don’t need. Every kilogram of weight removed from the vehicle will improve your fuel economy. How? Well it is actually pretty simple – less weight means your engine doesn’t have to work as hard to get the vehicle up to speed and keep it there.
Tip #4: Replace your engine’s air filter
The air filter is the first and last line of defence protecting your engine from ingesting all the dust and dirt which is kicked up from other vehicles on the road. And if it does what it is meant to, it’ll catch all sorts of things and hold them in the filter element, which will eventually clog up and create restriction. So it is well worth having your air filter replaced at least once a year to ensure your engine can achieve the optimum air/fuel ratio for combustion.
Tip #5: Get your vehicle serviced
Here’s another thing which you should be doing at least once per year – either servicing the vehicle yourself or having it done by your local garage. While you’re unlikely to see any massive improvement after having a service done, you’ll at least have the peace of mind of knowing that the fresh oil circulating within your engine means it’ll be able to perform at the peak of its ability, reducing friction and also helping to extend its service life.
What can I expect to achieve?
Depending on the type of vehicle you drive and the condition in which it has been kept, if you follow the tips listed above you could realistically see a fuel economy improvement of at least 10%. However, the most important thing to remember is it isn’t just your vehicle which has to improve – it is you, the driver, who might have to take the time to change old habits which are hurting your fuel economy.