How to save money when driving.

How to save Money driving.

Having recently watched an episode of the BBC’s ‘Top Gear’ it got me thinking about fuel efficiency. In the episode they had to travel from point A to point B, the catch being that they had to run out of fuel before arriving at their destination. Their destination was Chernobyl. So obviously it was in their best interest to make their cars very fuel inefficient. This was achieved in some very humorous ways, from Richard Hammond’s rapid acceleration and harsh braking to Jeremy Clarkson’s attempts to increase drag resistance by driving with his car door open.
Although the presenters went to driving extremes to lower their miles to the gallon, it did shine a light on the behavior of some drivers. I’m pretty sure everyone has accelerated a bit too fast at some point in their driving history, left the roof rack on when it wasn’t needed or didn’t keep their tyres at optimal pressures, and for some they have no concept of fuel efficient driving whatsoever.
So I have pulled together a few tips to help you out. Not only could you save money but you could be helping the environment as well!

Tyre pressures:

It is advisable to check your tyre pressures often; I would suggest every 2 weeks. Under-inflated tyres can increase fuel consumption. This is because they have more contact with the road, therefore increasing friction and the amount of energy required by the engine. They can also be dangerous.

Checking your tyre tread depth at this time is advisable as well.

Air Filter:

Getting your air filter checked regularly is important. In order for the engine to burn the fuel efficiently it needs to be able to adequately breathe. If not burnt properly it will just exit through the exhaust, thus wasting fuel.

Engine Oil:

It is important to keep the engine lubricated for optimal performance. This means using the correct grade oil for your vehicle. Your car manufacturer’s handbook will inform you which the best to use is.

Driving smoothly and reading the road ahead:

There have been many occasions when I have been the passenger in a car and I’ve heard the driver complaining about how much fuel costs (yes maybe they want some money off me for some petrol!). Arguably harsh accelerating and heavy braking are the biggest wasters of fuel. Just by reading the road ahead you can save your fuel. If you can see a red light in front of you start to slow down, don’t maintain your speed and slam your brakes on when you arrive at the lights. Many times it will have turned to green before you get there so there is no need to brake to a stop.

Revving the engine:

You know the typical scene; loads of youngsters in a car park revving the car engine. In my opinion they look stupid and apart from that, they’re wasting fuel. There’s no need to rev the engine whilst the car is stationary, so cut it out and save fuel – as well as your dignity!

Air Con:

Unfortunately the Air Conditioning helps to save your fuel – if turned off! This tip is ultimately only really going to help in milder weather when you don’t feel the need to have it turned on but, let’s face it, we live in Britain; it’s mild most of the time.

Drag:

So, open a window? Unfortunately, like the above point, trying to keep cool in your vehicle by opening windows increases the drag, especially so at high speeds and therefore lowers fuel efficiency. I’m not saying you should suffer in your car but if you don’t need the windows open, try to keep them shut.
In higher speed situations the air con is a better option than an open window – we may have a rare hot day.
Likewise having an un-used roof rack will increase drag.

Speed:

Next time you’re stuck behind a slow moving vehicle, try to look on the bright side. You’re probably saving fuel. Driving at 75mph will increase fuel usage by around 10% over driving at 60mph. My advice would be, if possible, to set off earlier and drive a little slower.

Leave your car at home:

This sounds like a no brainer but I have observed many instances where a friend of mine has driven to the local shop. The shop literally being 300 metres away. If you can reach it on foot, walk!

Excess weight:

I am definitely not going to advocate leaving one of your kids at home if you’re going on a family trip, but if you remove unneeded weight from your vehicle you can save a lot of fuel. Do you really need all of the extra junk in the boot?

Plan your journey:

Not only can you pick a quicker and more optimum route, you can also avoid getting lost and wasting fuel by driving around aimlessly. Planning journeys during quieter times will also reducing the amount of time sitting in stationary traffic.

So, try some of these out and let us know how you get on. Hopefully you can save yourself some money and help the environment. If you have any more suggestions, leave them in the comments and please remember when doing any of these tips to drive safely.

Below is a graph of fuel prices for the first week of January, for the last 10 years. Information obtained from the Department of Energy & Climate Change

Date Petrol Per Litre Diesel Per Litre Duty Per Litre Vat %
05/01/2004 75.88 77.54 47.10 17.50
03/01/2005 81.17 85.12 47.10 17.50
02/01/2006 88.03 92.27 47.10 17.50
01/01/2007 87.85 93.40 48.35 17.50
07/01/2008 103.37 108.29 50.35 17.50
05/01/2009 85.42 97.57 52.35 15.00
04/01/2010 109.34 111.08 56.19 17.50
03/01/2011 124.85 129.11 58.95 17.50
02/01/2012 132.40 140.84 57.95 20.00
07/01/2013 131.86 139.75 57.95 20.00
06/01/2014 130.26 138.11 57.95 20.00