Paying too much to keep yourself on the road? Michael Sheridan has some suggestions.
1) Keep Fit
Service you car at the recommended schedule. A car's engine is its heart and, similar to the human body, a fit car will run more efficiently and burn less fuel. Skipping a service is a false economy and will also hit your car's potential resale value.
Tyres must be inflated correctly or you will pay at the pumps. As a general rule under-inflated tyres create excessive drag and this will burn more fuel. On the other hand over-inflated tyres compromise grip. In the car's handbook are a number of recommended pressures depending on how heavy the car is loaded.
Formula 1 cars are made as light as possible to reduce fuel consumption and improve performance so the same can apply to the humble road car. Carrying excess weight means the car is burning more fuel to haul itself around. Audit your boot and you'll be amazed at the amount of freeloading rubbish you'll find.
4) Keep Your Cool
Air conditioning is terrific for not only cooling a hot cabin but also removing moisture from the air that can often steam up windows. But air con comes at a price: it burns extra fuel. Below 80Km/h the aerodynamic penalty isn't too great so open a window a little. Above 80Km/h aerodynamics come into play so use the air conditioning with the windows closed.
5) Move It
When you start a car from cold move off as promptly as possible. Cold engines run inefficiently so the sooner the car's temperature is up to normal the more energy efficient it will be. Reverse parking in car parks will help as you do this as not only will be facing the direction of travel but will also have better vision of any hazards.
6) One Big Fill
Ireland has a long tradition of its motorists filling up with just a few quid's worth of fuel at a time. When you think about it not only are you stopping and starting your car more than you need to, but you are also making life harder for yourself. When you stop for fuel fill up to the brim. Supermarket filling stations seem to offer the best value and are very handy as you can fuel and do the weekly shops at the same time.
7) Right Car Wrong Car
We all know that smaller cars are lighter and generally use a lot less fuel than larger ones so plan your next purchase wisely. If you don't need to carry adults in the back or do little mileage why not downsize to something that will run with greater economy. Just because a car is small doesn't mean it is potentially very dangerous in a collision, check the Euroncap website to see how safe smaller cars have become.
8) Steady as She Goes
Gradual acceleration is the key to saving fuel. Also remember that Police Advanced drivers use this saying "gears are for go brakes are for slow" so when you are slowing down plan the gear you need to use next to continue on your course with minimal delay. Once at speed remember a car is generally most energy efficient between 60 & 100Km/h. Check before you buy any car what's it fuel consumption is like in urban and combined conditions as these will have a big impact on your pocket longer term.
9) High Speed = High Fuel Bills
Get in to top gear as soon as you can. Remember that car gears are just like those on a bike so 5th will get you a lot further than 1st for the same amount of energy used. Traffic jams can play havoc with fuel costs so if you think you are going to be stationary for more than a few seconds turn off your engine. BMW does this with its latest cars using 'Efficient Dynamics' and other companies are following suit.
10) Do You Need to Drive?
Sorry for stating the obvious but a car in the driveway doesn't use up fuel. Could you walk or cycle to your destination, or maybe, just maybe, you might have decent public transport nearby (unlikely... but worth a look).