The reality of living in a rural area is that most of us need our cars to get to work, get the shopping in, ferry our children around and have a social life. Maybe that makes us too ready to jump in the car for the shortest journeys – think about it; can you really not spare the 10 minutes it would take to walk to work or school when the weather is good? Starting your car from cold and driving it for less than a mile costs on average £1 each time. Add that up over the working year and you’ve spent almost £500 on fuel. No one would suggest that walking kids a mile in the pouring rain is sensible or practical, but if driving short distances was the exception rather than the rule we would all save ourselves cash.
When we do need to drive, we can reduce fuel consumption with these simple tips:
1. Check your revs – change up before 2,500rpm (petrol) and 2,000rpm (diesel).
2. Anticipate road conditions and drive smoothly, avoiding sharp acceleration and heavy braking. This saves fuel and reduces accident rates.
3. Use air conditioning sparingly as it significantly increases fuel consumption.
4. Drive away immediately when starting from cold – idling to heat the engine wastes fuel and causes rapid engine wear.
5. Remove roof racks when not in use – they increase drag significantly.
6. Avoid short journeys – a cold engine uses almost twice as much fuel and catalytic converters can take five miles to become effective.
7. Stick to speed limits and make your fuel go further – the most efficient speed depends upon the car in question but is typically around 55 – 65mph. Faster speeds will greatly increase your fuel consumption.
8. Plan your journeys – to avoid congestion, roadworks and getting lost.
9. Check your tyre pressure regularly – underinflated tyres are dangerous and can increase fuel consumption by up to 3%.
10. Changing your car? Think about buying a more fuel efficient model – check the emissions figures when you look at the rest of the specification.