Saving on the cost of motoring is a necessity for a growing number of families. Difficult economic times mean that incomes are being squeezed at a time when the cost of essential items is on the increase. But did you know that you can save money simply by driving differently? Here are five steps to reduce your motoring expenses.
1. Smoother driving
It pays to drive defensively, looking further ahead so that you can plan your acceleration and deceleration ahead of time.
When you do accelerate, try not to put your foot down too hard. Rapid acceleration uses more fuel than picking up speed at a steady pace.
Changing gears at the right time is important in determining the fuel efficiency of your driving. Many motorists stay too long in a lower gear before changing up. For optimum economy, change up at 2500 revs in a petrol car and 2000 in a diesel.
Be wary of failing to change down early enough, too. A car straining in too high a gear burns more fuel, so it pays to listen to your engine at all times and change gear accordingly. The Department for Transport puts the potential saving for smooth driving at a whopping 30% on the average fuel bill.
3. Speed bumps
Speed bumps will cost you dear at the pump if you accelerate and brake in between each one. Instead, drive at a steady 15-20mph (if appropriate to speed limits) to reap the reward in reduced fuel consumption. You’ll be less likely to ruin your vehicle’s shock absorbers, too.
Driving at high speeds is a no-no for reasons of legality, safety and economy. Figures released by the Department for Transport show that, by driving at 50mph rather than 70mph, you’ll use up to 25% less fuel.
A popular urban myth is that less fuel is used by coasting out of gear. Not only is this not true but it can also be dangerous. Instead, when descending a hill, take your foot off the accelerator but leave the engine in gear.
Keep your tyres properly inflated or you’ll spend more on fuel. It is estimated that tyres under-inflated by 6psi will add an extra 1% to your fuel consumption.
Other fuel-guzzling culprits include the carrying of unnecessary heavy items, overusing your air conditioning, and driving everywhere with the roof-rack on.
Good driving will save you money and it is safer, too. For further motoring peace of mind, always make sure you have adequate car insurance.
Liam Williams writes for the Sainsbury’s Bank money matters blog. In his spare time he enjoys motoring and organic gardening.