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How to Improve Fuel Efficiency

With fuel prices reaching astronomical highs, we share our top motoring tips for ensuring that your fuel (and money) goes further.

Slow down: Fuel economy decreases rapidly above 60MPH so the faster you move, the harder your engine has to work to push through the wind. Reducing speed can improve efficiency by as much as 33%, but remember to use the highest gear possible and switch on cruise control if you have it to maintain a constant speed.

Avoid idling: For example, in cold weather warm the car engine for no more than 30 seconds. This period of time is sufficient to ensure that the engine is properly lubricated for driving. Generally, if you can avoid 10 seconds of idling you will save fuel by turning the engine off and restarting. However, starting an engine too often can lead to excessive wear and tear on the starter motor and wiring. Also turning the engine off once you’ve reached your destination will go some way towards improving efficiency.

Accelerating and braking: Engines are most efficient when taking in a moderately high air flow, so accelerate smoothly with moderate throttle. Avoid unnecessary braking, which wastes energy from fuel that you have already burned, and accelerating immediately after braking as that consumes more fuel than driving at a constant speed. It goes without saying that keeping to a safe distance between you and the vehicle infront will not only reduce the risk of accidental damage, but also the need for heavy braking.

Set your tyres to the correct inflation: Properly inflated tyres can reduce fuel consumption by up to 3% by promoting even wear on the tread. Always refer to the manufacturer’s booklet for the exact tyre pressure, as tyres that are under inflated can overheat, causing increased resistance which requires more fuel to maintain the same speed; whereas over-inflation can lead to poor vehicle handling on the road. Over or under inflated tyres suffer more damage than those with the correct pressure and need to be replaced more regularly, and both examples can be extremely dangerous.

Sensory overload: On fuel-injected cars, make sure the oxygen sensors, engine emissions system, and evaporative emissions control systems are in good shape. Often the ‘check engine light’ coming on is an indication that there is a problem with one of these components. A damaged oxygen sensor may cause your car to have too rich of a fuel mixture, decreasing your fuel mileage by 20% or more.

Filters: Check the condition of your engine air filter. A dirty filter will reduce fuel economy, or make the engine stall when idling. Just like mowing dusty grass, driving on dusty roads will clog the air filter. Also replace your fuel filter according to the manufacturer’s recommended schedule, which will go a long way to enhancing fuel efficiency.

De-clutter your car: The lighter your vehicle is, the less effort it needs to accelerate. De-cluttering, clearing out junk from the boot, and removing unnecessary weight can really make your fuel go further. A roof rack, even unused, will add wind resistance to a car, increasing drag and making the engine work harder.

Turn off air con at lower speeds: Air conditioning uses an incredible amount of fuel, so make sure it’s turned off unless you really need it as doing so could improve efficiency by around 8%. The general consensus is it’s more efficient to drive with the windows down and the air con off at lower speeds, but at higher speeds it’s better to use the air con and keep windows up due to the extra drag caused by having windows down. If you’re not using your air con, it’s worth turning it on once in a while otherwise it may stop working.

And finally, don’t fill up! Yes you did read that right. Fuel is heavy so by filling the car up you’re adding quite a weight, but filling up slightly more often and putting less in (to 1/2 or 3/4 full) will actually improve efficiently – ten gallons will add around 60 pounds in weight. But do remember that when your fuel runs low you could put stress on the fuel pump, so we wouldn’t recommend letting it run out before filling up!

Registered office: The WMS Group Ltd,
Oxford House, Oxford Road, Thame, Oxon OX9 2AH
01844 293 810