How can I save fuel and make the most of the petrol or diesel I have in my tank during the panic-buying crisis?
From not driving with the windows down to checking the pressure of car tyres – there are lots of things drivers can do quickly to help their vehicles conserve fuel while on the road.
As panic buying continues, here are nine things that you can do to help your car motor for longer with the petrol or diesel you have remaining in the tank:
1. Check tyre pressures
If you're aware your car is in need of some repairs it may not be an issue you can solve quickly – particularly this week – but running some basic checks on your vehicle can help your fuel consumption, particularly where tyres are concerned.
Ensure your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure, using the guide in your manual. Both underinflated and overinflated tyres can have an adverse affect on the amount of petrol you're using. And tyre pressures should also be adjusted depending on the weight of the load your car is carrying too – so if your vehicle is full of passengers and their luggage you may need to inflate your tyres to the maximum recommended pressures to aid efficiency.
2. Lighten your load
Removing any unnecessary weight your car is carrying, and making your vehicle more streamline, can help the fuel in your tank last longer.
This might include taking down a roof box or removing the bike rack you like to keep on your vehicle for weekends or emptying the boot of heavier items if you don't need to be driving them around with you each day. Taking items from the roof, such as boxes, bars or racks will also lessen the 'drag' the car experiences, which can also increase fuel consumption.
3. Accelerate and brake smoothly
Don't pull away like you're on the starting line at Silverstone advises the RAC! Excessive speed is the biggest fuel-guzzling factor, says the breakdown service, so having a light right foot and ensuring that your acceleration is gentle and measured is always crucial to getting the most out of what is in your tank.
Driving with a sensible gap between you and the car in front, says the AA, will also cut down on the amount of sudden braking you could be forced to do.
4. Watch your speed
Driving in the highest possible gear for your vehicle while driving within the speed limit can help achieve the optimum miles per gallon, suggest motoring experts. In urban areas drivers are advices to change up through their gears quickly, with the lowest amount of revs possible. The faster the engine works and spins, the more fuel it is going to be using.
5. Anticipate what's ahead
Alongside pulling away gently, and watching your speed, keeping the car moving at a steady speed is also really helpful when it comes to fuel economy.
This of course depends on the traffic conditions on the roads but constantly slowing down and then having to accelerate swiftly again will naturally use more of your fuel. If you can anticipate traffic lights or roundabouts that you know are ahead of you try and ease back on the accelerator and slow down naturally, which in some cases may mean you can potentially keep moving as opposed to coming to a halt and needing to pull away swiftly again.
And when slowing down remain in gear, as the fuel cut-off switch in a fuel injection engine is then activated, meaning that virtually no fuel will be used while braking says the RAC.
Driving up hills also 'destroys' fuel economy, say motoring experts, so if there's no straightforward alternative route then when you know you're coming to a hill try to accelerate a little before you reach it and then ease off as you drive up. The extra momentum can be helpful in minimising too much additional petrol or diesel consumption.
6. Avoid cruise control unless you're on the motorway
Cruise control, if your vehicle has it, can be really helpful when driving on a constant flat surface.
As one of the keys to saving fuel is to drive at a constant steady speed, switching on your cruise control is therefore best reserved for motorway driving, where you can leave your car in a higher gear and travel along without too much unnecessary acceleration. Doing so when you aren't on flat roads, you may find, only increases the amount of petrol you're using.
7. Dress for the weather – even inside your car!
Alongside roof boxes and bars, driving with your windows down can also create wind resistance and force your car to use more fuel.
However using your air conditioning or car heaters is also using engine power and therefore fuel consumption. It's a fine balance, when it comes to getting a comfortable air temperature, but driving along with the windows down or the fans on full blast will use up the little petrol you may have, so try and dress for the weather even when you're sat inside your vehicle.
If you must use your air conditioning, says the AA, try and do so in short sharp bursts.
8. Combine journeys
Once your car engine is warm it will be most efficient, so even if the total mileage is the same, combining journeys can help fuel consumption.
If you have a number of errands to run and can combine them with your drive to work or the school run, rather than making a number of cold starts for your car from scratch this will help make the most of the fuel in your tank.
9. Turn the engine off where possible
If you're in traffic or waiting for someone and are going to be stationary for three or more minutes, the AA advises turning off the engine.
Many new vehicles come with a start/stop system now so leave that on if your car does have that feature. When a car is idling, the AA says engines will use more fuel than it needs to or - often in the case of older vehicles, they will need to work harder to ensure the engine and its systems don't overheat.