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Fuel prices are on the up again meaning each time we visit the filling station we have to dig a little deeper in our pockets.
As a result more people are thinking about ways of cutting their fuel consumption, perhaps learning how to “hypermile”, without resorting to the major investment of buying a hybrid car.
Hypermiling is extreme energy efficient driving, where the aim is to squeeze as many miles as you can out of every litre of petrol, with devotees reporting fuel savings of up to 40 per cent.
Rather than spend money buying the most economical car, the idea is to drive your current car in the most economical way.
So what will improve fuel consumption? We’ve put together some tips to help you make your money go further:
- Be prepared. Sort out your mirrors, seat belts, sat nav etc before starting the car. Only switch on the engine when you are ready to drive. Think how many minutes you will shave off engine running time by being prepared before starting the car.
- Lose some weight. The more weight you are carrying the more fuel you’ll be using. Empty out unwanted items from your boot. There are some crazy suggestions around such as removing the back seats from the car, but this may not be entirely practical unless you have a people carrier with easily removable seats that can be slotted back in quickly. You could also trim down the toolbox in the boot leaving just the essentials for emergency roadside repair.
- Be a smoothie. Try to drive without rapidly accelerating or decelerating. Think ahead and try to anticipate road conditions. You’ll not only save fuel but you’ll be a safer driver as well.
- Stick to the limits. There are many factors at work here but most sources agree that the faster you go the more fuel you use. Driving slower also reduces emissions according to Dutch researchers. If you keep within the speed limits you won’t be running the risk of fines and getting points on your licence either.
- Get pumped up. Make sure your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure. Under-inflated tyres increase fuel consumption as there is more drag on the road. It may impair the car’s handling too. There are now manufacturers claiming to produce energy saving tyres.
- Fuel wisely: You don’t always have to “fill her up”, your car will run far more economically if you only have half a tank of petrol because it will be much lighter. With that in mind, only fuel your car for the journey you are making.
- Go with the flow: Do your best to maintain your car’s aerodynamics. Don’t drive with a roof rack, cycle rack or ski-box fitted if you are not using it. Take it off and leave it in the garage. An open window can also disturb your vehicle’s natural air flow so, wherever possible, keep windows closed. Similarly, you will use less fuel if you keep the convertible or sunroof closed.
- Service with a smile: Get the car serviced regularly. Replacing the oil will make it run more efficiently, as will a timely tune-up. Get the garage to ensure your wheels are correctly aligned too, which will also help.
- Choose the right route: You would be forgiven for thinking that the shortest route would be the best way to cutting fuel consumption. The key to “hypermiling” is to take the least uninterrupted route to ensure that you are driving smoothly, without getting stuck in traffic or having to make less stops along the way in order to make the most of your MPG.
- Turn it off: If you live in an area filled with traffic lights or railway crossings then turning off your engine is a crucial tip. If stationary you are doing zero MPG and if doing so for more than ten seconds, then you are wasting fuel, while running the risk of overheating your engine. Of course, many modern cars have start / stop functions for the express purpose of reducing fuel consumption and pollution.
- Drafting: Slipstreaming by another name, and a technique used in motorsport to reduce wind resistance, but incredibly dangerous on the road. You must abide by the two-second rule, but that will still reap an MPG benefit.