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Tread Lightly: Ease back on the throttle and drive down motoring costs

With fuel prices rising yet again I thought I would make this month’s feature about our cars and how to run them more efficiently, before considering alternatives to petrol and diesel vehicles.

Driving smoothly can dramatically reduce your fuel consumption.
Driving smoothly can dramatically reduce your fuel consumption.

Below is a list of things I am already doing which help the bank balance, whilst also treading a little lighter on the planet:

  • I hate to break it to you, but you are not Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button or Nigel Mansell! The easiest way to save fuel and money is to slow down.
  • I started to take the tortoise over the hare approach a few years ago and noticed that I arrived at my destination feeling a lot more relaxed. The Energy Savings Trust has calculated that at 75mph (which of course none of you do) a car uses around 18 per cent more fuel than at 60mph and for a van the penalty is around 37 per cent. In my experience it seems to make little difference to the journey time.
  • Driving smoothly can dramatically reduce your fuel consumption. This includes anticipating any potential hazards along with braking and accelerating gradually where possible. You do not need to pull away from traffic lights as if you are on the starting grid at Silverstone.
  • Check your tyre pressures on a regular basis. I set a reminder for every fortnight and that way I know I am doing them monthly! It’s a double win as the correct tyre pressure means that your car consumes less fuel and it extends the life of your tyres.
  • Lose as much weight as possible. Do not worry the New Year resolutions have not come back to haunt you, it is the car that needs to lose weight. Take out any unnecessary items from the boot and backseats. You should also remove racks and roof boxes if not in use, although the biggest benefit of this is a reduction in drag which then results in a drop in fuel consumption.
  • If your car has stop/start technology, then use it properly and do not sit with your foot on the clutch. If you are at a standstill in a traffic jam, then switch the engine off. Oh, and if you are going to my local park to have your lunch then do not sit there with the engine running, before throwing your snack packets out of the window. Sorry, did I say that out loud?!

Of course, fossil fuelled cars are not sustainable and they are a very large part of the UK’s carbon footprint. This is why the current (no pun intended) plan is to phase them out and increase the number of electric vehicles, although many of us are not in the fortunate position to go out and buy a new electric car.

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