Drivers can improve fuel efficiency by using simple gear-changing hack

Hypermiling: Drivers go to extremes to conserve fuel

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Despite fuel prices having dropped slightly in recent weeks, they still remain high. The current RAC Fuel Watch indicates that motorists will have to pay 163.24p per litre of unleaded and 187.42p per litre of diesel on average.

With this in mind, motoring experts have reminded drivers to use the highest gear possible when embarking on journeys. By using the highest gear possible within the speed limit, drivers can boost their fuel economy.

Excessive speed is the biggest fuel-guzzling factor, with drivers being urged to have a light right foot. This will ensure all acceleration is gentle, which is very important to fuel-efficient driving.

One of the best ways to achieve a high mph is by driving in the highest possible gear for the vehicle while keeping within the speed limit. In urban areas, drivers are advised to change up through the gears as quickly as they can with the lowest revs possible.

The faster the engine spins, the more fuel the vehicle uses. Mark Akbar, Managing Director at CarStore, urged drivers to monitor how they use their gears, as this could save money.

He said: “It’s not part of the driving test to learn how to use your gears efficiently, you simply have to be able to use them to get the car to move at various speeds. However, to make the most out of every drop of fuel and maintain maximum efficiency, it’s vital that you’re always using the right gear at the right time.

“Be careful not to over-rev the engine, as this will use more fuel, and make sure you don’t labour the engine by being in a gear that’s too low for the speed and terrain.

“Generally, petrol cars are at their most economical between 1500 and 2500 rpm, so you should aim to change up to the next gear whenever you exceed the higher end of that band. For diesels, it’s between 1300 and 2000 rpm.”

When the RAC completed its “Record Road Trip” in an Audi A6 ultra, it found that the car’s optimum fuel economy speed was 52mph in seventh gear on the flat. The optimum speed will differ for every car and will depend on countless factors including the road conditions, the weight of the car and even the weather.

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The speed of 56mph has often been talked about as being the optimum speed. This was due to the old fuel consumption test being run at three speeds: urban, 56mph and 75mph – and 56mph was always, unsurprisingly, the most efficient of these.

Typically, cars are most efficient at 45-50mph. By driving aggressively and applying brakes suddenly, drivers can burn up to 20 percent more fuel.

Motorists are also being warned that they can face major fines for failing to make sure that their tyres are properly inflated and leaving their cars to idle. Dorry Potter, expert at National Scrap Car, urged drivers to make sure that their tyres are inflated properly and not to idle their vehicles.

This is because underinflated tyres massively reduce fuel economy and can also lead to a £10,000 fine. Ms Potter said: “Not only are drivers at risk of a £2,500 fine per tyre for an inadequate set of wheels, but tyre pressure and performance will also affect how much fuel is being used.

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“If the tyres are not in optimum condition the engine has to work harder to move the car. A tyre under-inflated by 15psi uses six percent more fuel. Make sure you check tyres as we approach the colder months and replace where necessary.”

Ms Potter also warned drivers about common fuel-saving mistakes that could land them in trouble. She added: “For example, not idling the car. This is actually an offence if done on a public road anyway but leaving your car to defrost will also use fuel as the engine will be being used unnecessarily.

“Then there is reducing the weight within the vehicle. Staycations are likely over for the year for many, meaning roof racks can be taken off the car and similarly if you have anything in the car which doesn’t need to be, remove it to lighten the load and lessen the consumption of fuel.”

An RAC spokesperson said: “There are some simple ways to help you save fuel – and here at the RAC, we have an expert guide looking at all the ways you can implement this if you are looking at cutting costs.”

They urged drivers to concentrate on regular maintenance and servicing as it improves the efficiency of the vehicle, and therefore improves the fuel consumption. They highlighted that this was particularly important for tyres, which need to be inflated to the correct and legal specifications.

Another fuel-saving tip is to hold back on the speed, with the RAC saying excessive speed is the “biggest fuel-guzzling factor”.

Having a light right foot and ensuring all acceleration is gentle is very important for fuel-efficient driving. The spokesperson added: “Fuel efficiency is all about keeping moving and not losing momentum.

“Accelerating and fast braking is very costly in fuel consumption terms, and so is going up any steep incline. Being aware of the road ahead and adjusting accordingly can make a massive difference.”

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