Changes in speed are quite expensive from a fuel-economy perspective, so try and ensure that your speed remains consistent (and is appropriate to the roads and conditions!). Avoid sharp acceleration (your clutch will also thank you) and try to avoid braking un-necessarily sharply as you'll need to use fuel to regain the lost speed.
We all like the sound of a car screaming off into the distance (well, most probably do), but using gears appropriately is key to minimising your fuel consumption.
The higher the gear you're in, the slower your engine speed, and so the less fuel being pulled in. The entire drive-train will benefit from not tearing about too!
Heartless speed cameras aside, excess speed can cost a serious amount of money. The amount of fuel required to maintain a speed increases dramatically with each increase in speed.
To achieve meaningful savings, try not to think in terms of vehicle speed though. Match a speed to an engine speed (keep note of the gear!). If driving at 70MPH requires an engine speed of 3000 rpm, set 3000 rpm as your target. The aim is to keep your engine speed consistent, and too many people focus on the vehicles speed leading to excess acceleration/deceleration.
When you want to achieve a speed, you have to burn fuel to get there. Why let that effort go to waste by braking to a complete stop when you could have planned ahead and slowly shed speed. The more momentum you have when you need to accelerate, the less fuel you'll need to use.
This goes hand in hand with not tailgating - you need to leave room to allow yourself to brake evenly rather than having to brake sharply and shed too much speed at once.
Easier said than done sometimes, but try to avoid heavy traffic. Every minute your engine is idling is a minute it's burning fuel and getting you nowhere.
Stop start traffic involves a lot of acceleration and deceleration leading to an increase in fuel consumption.
The manufacturer's routine maintenance isn't specified for fun, it has a number of benefits, but the primary motivation is to keep your vehicle running right. Your vehicle is more fuel efficient when it's running as it should be, and using good quality oil and lubes can realise some additional savings on top of this.
Tyres are an important component of your vehicle, they're all that sits between you and the road. So keeping them correctly inflating is important anyway, but failing to do so will also mean your car requires more energy to achieve the same speeds. This, inevitably, means burning more fuel for the same amount of work.
We're always told that Air conditioning costs fuel, but (whilst true) it's not quite as simple as that.
If you're driving at low speeds, open the windows to cool down. But, if you're driving at higher speeds (Dual carriageways, Motorways etc.) keep the windows closed and use the Air Con.
Opening the windows has a serious impact on the amount of drag that the vehicle has to contend with in order to maintain speed, and so you burn more fuel. At lower speeds the trade-off isn't so great, but at higher speeds it may cost you more than using the Aircon!
Of course, a cheaper option is to do neither and slowly cook inside the car!
Don't carry un-needed items with you. Every extra kilogram of weight increases the fuel used when accelerating (as you're moving a greater mass).
Roof racks and top-boxes can be essential for long journeys, but if you're not currently using it, take it off.
They create extra drag, so your vehicle needs to burn more fuel in order to maintain speed.
Most garages carry 'Premium' fuels which promise better fuel economy. Without doubt, they generally provide additional mileage per gallon, but it's not necessarily saving you money.
If your vehicle will run on the standard, it's often cheaper per mile, even if your MPG appears to be worse. So do the maths, calculate the mileage you get per gallon and then divide by the cost to see which works best for you.
Similarly, try fuel from different Garages and find which works best with your vehicle.
Note: You should, however, try both types for around a month each. You'll unconsciously change your driving behaviour each time you change fuel, which will skew your figures if you don't allow time for things to normalise.
Tracking your fuel economy allows you to maintain an awareness of what works and what doesn't. It's also invaluable in identifying when your vehicle requires maintenance, for example if your economy drops dramatically with no change in driving conditions/style then it may be that your air filter needs replacing.
It's on this basis that the VehMan API was created, the Fuel Economy readouts on many vehicles are useful but only ever give a snapshot of a specific point in time. By recording the data properly, you can maintain a historic overview of how your vehicle performs at different times of the year, and whether there's been a gradual change in economy.
To keep track of the economy, simply make a note whenever you fill your tank, at a very basic level, you only need to record the following
- Litres purchased
- Tank filled?
- Mileage (main odometer reading)
It's usually helpful to record the Price per Litre, Garage and date as well though!