Motorists can save up to £500 on petrol every year by improving their driving techniques, according to eco-driving experts from the AA.
As rising commodity prices and fuel duty force petrol prices to an all time high, the AA's eco-driver training scheme, Drive Smart, has found that pupils who adopt a more efficient driving style are typically able to reduce their fuel consumption by 10%, saving around £160 a year. Some manage to cut fuel use by a third, saving more than £500 a year.
AA Driving School's head of driver development, Mark Peacock, says: "Families have been hit hard by record fuel prices and are looking for ways to drive down costs. Eco driving involves simple techniques that anyone can master. If used correctly, they can help you cut hundreds of pounds a year from your fuel bills – reducing the impact of record prices."
Learner drivers are now taught how to drive fuel-efficiently and will get feedback on how well they do in the driving test. However, if it's new to you, here are the AA's top tips for driving down your fuel bill:
- Maintenance - Get your car serviced regularly - This helps maintain engine efficiency.
- Engine oil - Always use the correct specification of engine oil (check your handbook for details)
- Tyre pressures - Check tyre pressures regularly and always before long journeys. Under-inflated tyres create more rolling resistance and so use more fuel. Your handbook will include advice for recommended pressures.
BEFORE YOU DRIVE
- Lose weight - Extra weight means extra fuel so if there's clutter in the boot you don't need take it out.
- Streamline - Roof racks/boxes create extra wind resistance and increase fuel consumption. Take it off if you don't need it.
- Don't get lost - Check a map or online route planner before you go, alternatively use sat nav. Check the traffic news before you go too.
- Combine short trips - Cold starts are inefficient so avoid multiple trips by combining errands such as buying the paper, dropping-off the recycling, or collecting the kids.
- Consider alternatives - If it's a short journey consider walking or cycling
ON THE WAY
- Leave promptly - Don't start the engine until you're ready to go. In winter, scrape ice rather than leave the car idling for a long period to warm up.
- Easy does it - Drive smoothly, accelerate gently and read the road ahead to avoid unnecessary braking.
- Decelerate smoothly - When you have to slow down or stop, decelerate smoothly by releasing the accelerator in time, leaving the car in gear.
- Rolling - If you can keep the car moving all the time, so much the better. Stopping then starting again uses more fuel.
- Change up earlier - Change gear as soon as possible without laboring the engine – try changing up at an engine speed of around 2000 rpm in a diesel car or around 2500 rpm in a petrol car.
- Cut down on the air-con - Don't leave air conditioning on all the time – it increases fuel consumption, especially at low speeds.
- Turn it off - Any electrical load increases fuel consumption, so turn off your heated rear windscreen, demister blowers and headlights when you don't need them.
- Stick to the speed limit - The faster you go the greater the fuel consumption. According to the Department for Transport, driving at 70mph uses up to 9% more fuel than at 60mph and up to 15% more than at 50mph. Cruising at 80mph can use up to 25% more fuel than at 70mph.
- Don't be idle - If you do get caught in a queue, turn the engine off if it looks like you could be waiting for more than three minutes.