Easy on the juice: top tips for economical driving

For almost every motorist, the rising cost of fuel is an annoying bugbear that refuses to go away. Whingeing about prices at the pumps may be a human right, but there are also steps everyone can take to cut fuel bills for themselves. Here are a few of the main points to remember for economical driving.

1 It’s the economy, stupid!
Have fuel economy as the key factor in mind when choosing a vehicle, whatever kind you’re looking at. In the SUV segment that could mean a Ford Escape Hybrid at 34 miles to the gallon, while for van drivers, the diesel-engine Fiat Ducato is a good choice with an impressive 39 miles to the gallon. Both cars are very resistant, something which makes them a reliable choice even when bought used. Then there is the electric option too, but for most people the fact that roadside chargers are about as common as white rhinos remains a dissuading factor.

2 Become a smoothie
When driving, avoid sudden acceleration and deceleration. Smoothness is the key to maximizing fuel economy, so brake steadily, change to a high gear as soon as you can, and switch the engine off if you’re going to be stopped for a long time. If necessary imagine you have a really pernickety driving instructor in the passenger seat, telling you to do all this.

3 No need for speed
Remember cruising speed (the most efficient speed for fuel consumption) is around 60mph in fifth gear for most cars. Yes it’s tempting to put your foot down, especially if you have an open road and an engine with horsepower to spare, but be aware this will cost you at the pump (around 6% of fuel economy is lost for each 5mph speed increase after 60). So on motorways make the slow lane your natural home and If possible, develop a Zen like approach to other motorists whizzing past you. Chances are they’ll be stopped by road works up ahead anyway.

4 Lighten up
Cars consume fuel when they have to do extra work. Don’t drive around with a boot full of stuff you don’t need to be carrying, or an unnecessary roof rack attached. Also, be very aware that operations like defrosting and air conditioning do consume fuel, so don’t use them more than you need to.

5 Don’t forget the TLC
Maintain your car well. It can’t be stressed enough that a poorly tuned engine nosedives in efficiency. You may think you’re saving money by never visiting the garage for a service, but you’re probably losing it not only in faster depreciation of the car’s value, but at the pump as well.