Helping to lower your fuel consumption

Blog post posted on 17/02/22 |

The ever-fluctuating (and often increasing) cost of fuel is something all motorists would’ve been noticing over the past year, and that’s why IAM RoadSmart has put together their own top tips for driving and riding more eco-friendly, which in turn can help cut the amount of fuel you use.

With the cost of living rising, and the average UK fuel prices for petrol at 145.6 and diesel at 149.3, we’re on hand to help drivers save money on filling up and to help avoid some of those unexpected costs when it comes to servicing and repairs. Here you’ll find IAM RoadSmart’s top hints and tips to travelling more economically. After all, every little helps!

Greener driving

Driving smoothly and anticipating situations and other road users as far ahead as possible will help to avoid unnecessary braking and acceleration. Maintain a greater distance from the vehicle in front so that you can regulate your speed, when necessary, utilising acceleration sense and without using the brakes.

When slowing down or driving downhill, remaining in gear but taking your foot off the accelerator as early as possible will reduce fuel flow to virtually zero, in most vehicles. 

When accelerating, shift to a higher gear early, even in an auto you can try this where appropriate and always remember high speeds greatly increases fuel consumption too so avoid excessive speed. 

Offload unnecessary weight

Removing racks, roof boxes and bike carriers when they aren’t in use will significantly decrease air resistance and improve fuel consumption at higher speeds. Try to avoid carrying unnecessary weight on your travels as this will increase fuel consumption –raising your carbon footprint.

Avoid busy periods

If possible, try to avoid driving during heavy traffic. Stopping and starting in traffic needs the use of the first gear and a lot of fuel is used to get the vehicle moving again. So, if you can plan that journey to avoid unnecessary then you could save not only your time, but that expensive fuel as well.

Check your tyres

Keep your tyres well maintained by checking the condition, pressure and tread depth. An underinflated tyre will use more fuel. When it comes to choosing new tyres, it’s worth having a look at ones which are designed for extra economy. If you’re unsure on how to check your pressures, then check out Tyre Safe who offer a range of resources for vehicle owners. However, it is always advisable to check the setting recommended by your vehicle manufacturer, and this can be found in your handbook. Consider changing to the high speed or load settings if you are on a long journey.

Avoid short journeys

During colder months, as your engine is trying to warm up it uses more fuel for the first four miles or so. Your engine stays cold when you drive less than two miles, and your car will produce 60% more pollution than a warm engine. The National Travel Survey 2020 found 25% of trips were under 1 mile, and 71% under 5 miles, so could you consider leaving the keys at home and avoid those short journeys where possible?

Keep it low

By keeping your speed low, you can reduce fuel consumption by up to 25%. Try pressing more lightly on the accelerator, often you can maintain the same speed with less pressure on the pedal. You’ll soon see the mpg increasing.

Read the road ahead

Look to the road ahead and plan your next move. Instead of being in situations where you find yourself needing to be heavier footed on the brake, try slowing down as you approach the red light or junction, if you can keep the vehicle rolling slowly all the better It’s also recommended to avoid hard acceleration when moving your car from a complete stop, or climbing a hill as it will increase fuel consumption.

Limit your use of climate control

Air conditioning (AC) is the single largest contributor to lower fuel economy during the summer. Under very hot conditions, AC can reduce a vehicle’s economy by a whopping 25%. Since air conditioning systems run off the engine, they often sap power and fuel efficiency in the process, so if you don’t need it on then you may eke out a few extra mpg if you turn it off. If you do need it then it’s worth using sparingly.

Richard Gladman, Head of Driving and Standards at IAM RoadSmart, said: “Advanced driving techniques with sound observation and planning lend themselves well to helping with fuel economy. Smooth and gentle acceleration and early upward gear changes will also help you to save fuel. It’s also worth making sure you are not carrying any excess baggage (do you really need your full toolbox in the boot?) or wind brakes such as roof boxes/bars or cycle racks, remove them when they are not needed, and this will also help to reduce fuel use. At low speeds an open window may work as well as air conditioning and will probably use less fuel, but this will change as speeds increase and drag rises. But of course, the biggest saving of 100% will be if we can cut out the short journeys – that few hundred yards to the shop may just be the start of my new fitness campaign.”