How to reduce your car's fuel consumption

Lesson Type
Last updated: 14 Sep 2020

Whilst owning one of the newer models of fuel-efficient cars is a positive advantage,owners of older and less fuel economical cars needn’t despair. Here are a few tips you won't learn during your driving lessons!

Fuel consumption

By adapting driving techniques and following a few simple tips it’s possible to reduce your car’s fuel consumption significantly, saving you money and meaning fewer visits to the petrol station. Here, are our top nine tips for reducing your car’s fuel consumption.

1. Lighten your load

If you’re prone to use your car as an additional storage space for your golf clubs, walking boots, piles of spare parts or anything else that adds unnecessary weight to the car, then you’re burning fuel needlessly. The simple rule is that the lighter your car is the more fuel efficient it is so start saving cash straight away by taking anything out of the car that isn’t strictly crucial to your journey.

2. Don’t leave your engine idling

Yes it’s an obvious point, but how often do you drop your other half off to nip into a shop to pick something up or a quick office clean and leave the engine running whilst they’re gone? If you’ve stopped and know that you won’t be going anywhere for a while, save fuel (and emissions) by turning off the engine.

3. Minimise your aircon usage

According to AA calculations, running air conditioning can reduce a car’s fuel efficiency by a staggering 8%. At lower speeds you’re better off with the car windows down, reverting to air conditioning only when travelling at greater speeds where lowered windows would introduce an uneconomical ‘drag-factor’. In any event, for the greatest fuel economy, air conditioning should only be used when it’s unavoidably necessary.

4. Get into gear quickly

Changing into the most appropriate gear for your driving circumstances as quickly as you can increases your car’s fuel efficiency and exerts less stress and wear upon the engine.

5. Remove your roof box or roof rack

It might seem like a bit of a faff to keep putting on and taking off your roof rack, but this and roof boxes all reduce a car’s aerodynamic performance adding significant wind-resistance or ‘drag’ which requires the car’s engine to work harder and therefore consume more fuel.

6. Regularly check your tyre pressure

Periodically checking that your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure is a sensible aspect of car maintenance in any case, but under-inflated tyres cause drag and once again force your car’s engine to labour unnecessarily and waste fuel.

7. Mind your revs when accelerating

Being heavy-footed with the accelerator and over-revving is just burning fuel for the sake of it. Not only does smooth acceleration and deceleration make for better driving overall, it increases your car’s fuel efficiency.

8. Think ahead

Simple common sense and forethought can save you a small fortune on fuel costs. Do you really need to start or finish your journey during peak traffic periods when you’re likely to be crawling along nose-to-tail with other vehicles, or can you wait thirty minutes and enjoy freer and more economical driving? Do you really need to accelerate and overtake two cars just to get slightly further ahead in a slow-moving queue of traffic or would you prefer to bide your time and save money?

9. When you need to fill up, don’t fill up

Whilst that might sound counterintuitive, filling your fuel tank completely adds weight to your car and impacts its efficiency, increasing fuel consumption. By filling your fuel tank instead to the three-quarters mark and adopting the rest of the tips in this article you’ll be close to having a car that’s as fuel-efficient as possible, and if you’re the sort of person who monitors the amount of miles they’re getting to the gallon you’ll soon be pleasantly surprised by the amount of money you’re saving.