10 steps to increase petrol and diesel efficiency and save money

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Petrol and diesel prices have been falling in recent weeks but they still remain fairly high. The latest RAC Fuel Watch indicates that the price of unleaded is unlikely to fall further from 148.53p per litre any time soon. The price of diesel, on the other hand, should fall from 170.29p per litre. 

With that in mind, experts at A-Plan Insurance have put together 10 key steps that drivers should follow if they want to save money on fuel.

1. Watch speed to reduce fuel consumption

The RAC says driving at 45–50mph is the most efficient speed for fuel consumption, not the ‘56mph myth’ many have been adhering to.

According to the Department for Transport, driving at 70mph uses up to nine percent more fuel than at 60mph and up to 15 percent more than at 50mph. Driving at 80mph can use up to 25 percent more than at 70mph. Drivers should use cruise control for motorway driving if they have it.

2. Watch gears to reduce fuel consumption

Drivers should change up and down multiple gears at a time and change to the highest suitable gear as soon as they can to avoid over-revving.

The AA experts advise against coasting, where drivers engage “neutral” or drive with the clutch held down, deeming it unsafe and unlikely to save any fuel.

3. Accelerate and brake gently to reduce fuel consumption

Developing a smooth driving technique is a great way to save on fuel. If drivers are approaching traffic lights, for example, they should slow down early so that they may have changed by the time drivers reach them, meaning they might not need to stop at all.

Drivers should anticipate the road in front of them and ease off the throttle and maintain momentum rather than braking hard and then accelerating again.

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4. Remove weight and reduce drag to reduce fuel consumption

The drag from carrying extra weight reduces a car’s fuel efficiency, so drivers should remove any unnecessary items from the boot, and remove bike racks or roof racks when they don’t need them. A heavier car needs more fuel to keep it moving.

5. Use aircon less often to reduce fuel consumption

Using aircon can increase fuel consumption by around 10 percent according to the AA experts. Opening the windows (or lowering the soft top) is a cheaper option.

6. Maintain tyres to reduce fuel consumption

Drivers should check tyre pressure at least once a month. Under-inflated tyres burn more fuel. If tyres are eight pounds underinflated (not an uncommon condition), the rolling resistance of the tyres increases by five percent.

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7. Regular services will help reduce fuel consumption

Drivers should keep everything in tip-top efficient condition. Replace oil, air and fuel filters at the recommended intervals.

8. Avoid short trips to reduce fuel consumption

If drivers are taking short trips, it’s even more important to switch off that aircon as it will use most of its energy for the initial cool-down.

9. Avoid traffic hotspots to reduce fuel consumption

Idling consumes around 0.6 litres of fuel per hour. A vehicle with a stop/start engine is recommended if drivers are frequently stuck in traffic jams. Google Maps can be a fuel saver by pointing out routes that are congested and offering alternatives that keep cars moving.

10. Upgrade cars to reduce fuel consumption

The experts said: “While we’re focusing on money saving and realise a new car isn’t an option for many right now, some may be in a position to update their vehicle. With the rising cost of fuel, investing in a newer car will immediately save you a fortune in fuel – as well as reduce your road tax.”

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