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A guide to economical driving

  • Top tips on how to cut your motoring costs
  • Covers preparation, maintenance and driving techniques
  • Save 10 per cent on your fuel costs for zero outlay

Driving economically is more important than ever in today's culture. It has the capacity not only to save you money, but to help the environment at the same time.  

The following guide is a sure-fire way to cut down on motoring costs - if you follow it closely you should see at least a 10% improvement in your fuel bills. 

We'd love to hear how you get on, so let us know your results before and after by following Parker's top tips:

 

1) Simple car maintenance is important for all cars, and vital to economical driving.

• Keep your car well maintained. Regular servicing will mean the car remains as efficient as when you bought it, but neglect this and you'll find you're using a lot more fuel. Sort a service via your fleet manager or lease company as soon as it is needed.

• Always make sure you're using the correct engine oil for your car. In your manufacturer's handbook it will state which oil is best for your car. Using different oils can mean a drop in efficiency or even damage to your engine.

• Check your tyre pressures regularly. They should be checked weekly and always before embarking on long journeys. Under-inflated tyres will have a impact on economy - tyre manufacturer Goodyear says if your tyres are 20% under-inflated, you'll use 10% more fuel.

2) Preparing your car for each journey will greatly reduce how much fuel you use.

• Always make sure your car only contains the things you'll need for the journey you're doing. Extra weight means the engine will have to work harder, and so you'll use more fuel.

• Ensuring your car is as streamlined as possible will also help, so ditch the roof rack or roof box unless you're using it.

3) Planning your trip in advance is a great way to cut down on mileage. If you get lost, you'll use more fuel!

• Try to visit several places in one long journey, rather than taking short trips for each of them individually. When your car is cold it uses more fuel, so making several visits at once will help save cash.

• Plan your route before you leave to avoid getting lost. If you've never done the journey before it helps to look at a map before you set off, and make sure you check the traffic news for any major problems.

4) Adjusting your driving technique is by far the most effective way to save fuel; making a few small changes to how you approach your journey will soon pay dividends.  

• Use high gears - Use the highest gear you can without the car ‘labouring' or struggling to keep going. Try to change gear as early as possible, and try not to exceed 3000rpm under normal driving conditions.

• Control your right foot - When using the accelerator make very small adjustments to regulate your speed. The more you push the pedal, the more fuel you'll use. Bear in mind that full throttle should never be used when you're trying to save fuel.

• Plan ahead - Try to anticipate the road ahead, and use both gravity and traffic to your advantage. If you're about to go over the crest of a hill, back off the throttle until you're going downhill again. With gravity helping you, less use of the accelerator will be necessary to keep your speed up. Try to leave big gaps between you and the car in front in order to keep rolling. Stopping and starting constantly will use more fuel than keeping the car moving.

• Reduce braking - Avoid using your brakes as much as you can. Cruising on the lead-up to a junction will be much more fuel-efficient than driving normally and then slamming on the brakes.

• Slow down - When on motorways, less speed is better. Although the national speed limit is 70mph, cruising at 60mph or even 50mph will save a lot more fuel.

• Don't idle - Always set off as promptly as possible, avoiding leaving the engine idling. When in traffic for extended periods it's a good idea to switch the engine off to avoid using fuel unnecessarily. Many new cars are coming onto the market with systems that do this for you, often known as stop/start.

• Open windows - In hot weather try opening windows instead of using air conditioning. Both methods of keeping cool use more fuel, but in general having windows open is much more efficient than using power-sapping air conditioning.

• Coasting is wrong - Coasting (letting the car roll in neutral rather than being in gear) means you're not totally in control of your vehicle. If you leave the car in gear when decelerating then you're still using no fuel, but can make use of ‘engine braking' which also takes some of the load off the brakes.

• Turn off electronics - Many electronic features on your car use engine power and increase fuel costs. Turn off items like heated windscreens and de-misters when you don't need them.