There is no doubt, fuel costs are rising. The bad news is, it doesn’t look as though prices are likely to settle soon. Driving in a manner that increases your MPG is good for your vehicle, and your wallet: here’s how you can do it.
1. Reduce drag
From low profile racing vehicles to streamlined cyclists, the professionals know that even the tiniest amount of drag can affect speed and efficiency. It is the same when you are driving on the road; even having sun roofs open or windows down add drag and can reduce your fuel efficiency. Removing the top box, roof bars or bike rack from your car may be a headache but in general studies show that an empty roof rack can reduce your MPG by a massive 12%, while travelling fully loaded (with an empty roof box, or 2 bikes) can slash your efficiency by 27%. Unless you are going on holiday and actually need your roof box or bike rack, removing these items will help you to get more miles to the gallon.
2. Check your tyres
Making sure that your tyre pressure is correct can increase your fuel efficiency by up to 3%. In winter, your tyres can lose pressure as the result of cooler temperatures compressing the air in your tyres, while in summer, warmer temperatures can increase your tyre pressure, reducing fuel efficiency. Most motorists check their tyres before a long journey; conscientious ones may check them once a month. Ideally, you need to check your tyres once a week. Make it a habit when you refuel; fill up your tank and check your tyre pressure is within manufacturers’ recommendations. Be aware that, while you are driving, your tyres heat up from the friction, so it is best to check tyre pressure when they are cold, first thing in the morning after a drive of no more than 2 miles to the garage. If you have been driving for longer, or it is hot outside, add 3 PSI.
3. Take it easy
Most of us want to get from A to B as quickly as is safely possible. For the average car, MPG is optimal when you are in your car’s highest gear going at around 40-55 miles per hour, (depending on your car, gearing, weight, drag and engine). However, once you top 60 mph, the MPG drops dramatically; studies show that for every 10 mph over 50mph, your fuel usage will increase by more than 10%. We’re not suggesting you drive everywhere at 40, but if you know that you are a little heavy on the accelerator, consciously dropping your speed by 10 mph could reduce your MPG for an average journey by roughly 5%.
Is it really that easy? Remove your top box or roof bars, check your tyres and drop 10mph on fast roads and you could increase your MPG by 20%! In theory, yes; in practice, you need to maintain these small changes over a significant period to benefit your car, your wallet and the environment.
If you are concerned about your car's efficiency, find a good local garage to check your tyre pressure and tracking and fine-tune your engine for optimal performance.