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Adjust Your Driving to Save Money on Fuel Costs

When it comes to reducing the amount of money you spend fuelling your car, the obvious way to go about it is to buy a more economical model to start with. For some time now, for many of us, that has meant choosing a diesel engine over a petrol one. But as diesel engines now appear to be in the cross hairs of councils, governments and environmentalists due to the harmful particulates they produce, they might not be less expensive to run for too much longer. The good news though is today's modern, small-displacement petrol engines are becoming increasing fuel-efficient, so the difference between diesel and petrol fuel economy isn't as big as it used to be. And then there are always hybrids, plug-in hybrids and even all-electric models to choose from as well. But there's another way to save money on fuel costs we can all take advantage of, and that's to adjust the way we drive to obtain better fuel economy from any vehicle we drive. Here are some of the ways how you drive can affect the amount of fuel you use.

Smoothly and gently - Driving smoothly and accelerating gently while always being aware of what's coming up so you can act in good time to avoid harsh braking is a great start.

Keep going - Try to avoid stopping and starting again unnecessarily and try to keep rolling if you can. Slow down nice and early for traffic lights or when approaching queuing traffic and you could avoid stopping completely and using more fuel than you have to.

Gear use - Pushing an engine harder than you have to do will obviously use more fuel, so try changing up a gear at around 2,000 rpm with a diesel and 2,000 rpm with a petrol model. It's why new models have come with gear shift indicators since 2014 to encourage use of the most efficient gear at all times.

Use air-con wisely - Although using air-con doesn't make a huge difference to fuel economy at higher speeds, it can when driving at lower speeds. Don't leave it on all the time and try opening the window instead when appropriate, but make sure you use it at least once a week to keep the system in good working order.

Be careful with electrics - Turning off your heated rear window, your demister fan and your headlights when you don't need them can all help with fuel efficiency. And of course, the same thing applies to heated seats and steering wheels too if you have such luxuries fitted to your vehicle.

Watch your speed - Plenty of us don't like to face up to it, but driving faster uses more fuel. So, sticking to speed limits will not only save you money on the amount of fuel you will be using, it will also help you avoid fixed penalty fines too. For example, driving at 60 mph instead of 70 mph can increase your vehicle's fuel economy by nine percent, while driving at 50 mph is 15 percent more efficient than driving at 70 mph. And the next time you're tempted to nudge up to 80 mph on the motorway, just keep in mind you'll be using 25 percent more fuel than you would have been doing if you'd stayed at 70 mph.

Apart from how you drive there are plenty of other things you can do to reduce your fuel consumption. Things you should think about can include: not carrying unnecessary heavy items to reduce weight, reducing drag from roof racks and bike carriers when not in use, de-icing your screen instead of leaving the engine running to clear it, and planning your journeys to combine short trips into one whenever possible.

23 February 2017

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