With petrol prices soaring, Gary Ellis shares a few tricks to help you get the most out of each gallon.
When I had more hair and fewer responsibilities my regular motorway jaunts were all about speed and how quickly I could get from a to b. As I’ve got older and turned into my dad, I’ve noticed my recklessness has been replaced with a desire to do things as cheaply and efficiently as possible. Trying to break my personal best from north London to Bournemouth (1 hour 45 minutes if you’re interested) has been replaced with getting as much as possible out of one tank of petrol and keeping my motoring expenditure to a minimum.
Save time and money with a sat nav system
Modern technology has helped. Being a typical male driver I don’t think I’ve ever stopped and asked for directions in my life. The hours and petrol I’ve wasted over the years driving round in circles don’t bear thinking about, but since buying a sat nav I’ve saved time, money, and arguments with my better half. Now I can tell her that I know where I’m going without actually lying, and save money at the same time.
Ease back on the gas for better fuel economy
My right foot has had to have a complete re-education as I’ve got older and the cost of a full tank of petrol has reached almost as much as the price of my first car. Instead of pushing the accelerator flat to the floor as quickly as possible and then slamming the brake whenever traffic slows, I’ve found that gently pulling away and braking in plenty of time has increased fuel consumption dramatically (driving at 100 mph uses roughly 5 times more fuel than at 50 mph).
Allow yourself plenty of time for your journey and you won’t have to race to get to your destination on time. Stripping the car of unnecessary ballast helps as well. Golf clubs, roof racks, and tools in the boot all put a bigger strain on the engine. I also check my tyre pressures regularly to further improve fuel usage, and use the great comparison websites that find the cheapest petrol prices in my area. Get online and shop around.
Switch it off, whatever the weather
It’s nice to get into a warm, pre-heated car in the winter, but be brave and don’t start the engine until you’ve scraped the ice and frost off of the windows. It is a huge waste of money and bad for the environment. In the summer, avoid running anything electrical that you don’t need – hot air blowers, window demister, even turn the radio off if you’re not really listening to it.
If you put miles per gallon ahead of miles per hour you’ll be amazed how much difference these measures can make. Over a year you can find yourself saving enough to pay next year’s road tax or insurance renewal.