13 ways to use less fuel when driving


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Find great tips on cutting your motoring costs and using less fuel from the experts at Admiral Car Insurance


The cost of fuel has been stable for a while, but it can still be a worry for some motorists. However, there are things you can to do help improve your car’s fuel efficiency and, in turn, minimise the impact of your driving on the environment. 

Stick to these tips and you'll maximise your fuel and minimise your panic next time you're at the pumps.

1. Drive slower

It seems obvious, but reducing your speed by just a few mph will also reduce engine revs, and use less fuel. Cutting your speed by 5mph won't add much to your journey time but it will leave more in your wallet. If you're stuck in traffic for at least 60 seconds, turn off the engine; even when idle it's burning fuel.

2. Drive smoother

Anticipating traffic flow and keeping your car moving in traffic can help you save money on fuel - stop/start traffic is not good for fuel consumption. When you're slowing make sure you decelerate gently – take your foot off the accelerator in plenty of time. And don't be tempted to put the car into neutral and coast – you won't save that much and it's not safe.

3. Use cruise control 

On a similar note, if your car has a cruise control system, it’s worth using this feature to improve fuel efficiency. In fact, cruise control can save you up to 6% in fuel consumption as it enables you to maintain a steady speed and prevents unnecessary acceleration. 

4. Keep your car in tune

Regular servicing is far more fuel-efficient than a car with a congested air filter, worn-out spark plugs, clogged fuel injectors and bad oil. Modern cars have diagnostic systems which quickly pinpoint the cause of poor running so it shouldn't take long to highlight any faults. You'll soon start to recoup the cost of the service by saving on fuel. Check out our guide for easy car maintenance you can do at home

5. Clean the air filter

Specifically, if your vehicle’s air filter is dirty, the engine will have to work harder than it needs to. To ensure that your engine performs more efficiently, clean the air filter in order to maintain vehicle performance and ensure the engine runs more efficiently. 

Failure to clean it or replace a dirty air filter will result in poor fuel economy, so if you’re looking to use less fuel, it’s important pay attention to the air filter in your engine.

6. Check tyre pressure

Surveys regularly show a large percentage of us frequently drive with incorrect tyre pressures; not only are under-inflated tyres unsafe, they also increase rolling resistance and fuel consumption by up to 5%. Over-inflated tyres reduce the area of tyre contact with the road, so you lose vital grip.

7. Go natural

On a hot day it's very tempting to blast the air con in your car but these units use a lot of fuel. If you do want to use it keep it for when you are driving at higher speeds – having the windows open at higher speeds will increase wind resistance and consequently raise your fuel consumption. When driving at lower speeds, make sure you turn off the air con and put those windows down.

8. Don’t tailgate

Travelling close to the vehicle in front isn’t safe anyway; it’s best practice to follow vehicles at a safe distance. However, tailgating has other consequences too. When you travel too close to a vehicle you’ll work the brakes more often and frequent repetitive braking uses more fuel.

Don’t tailgate; always keep your distance and you’ll notice a significant effect on fuel consumption.

9. Stay standard

Have you fitted fat alloys and wide tyres to your ride? They may look good, but larger tyres inevitably have more rolling resistance, which adds to your fuel consumption. Alloy wheels are often not much lighter than ordinary steel wheels meaning any weight-saving tends to be minimal and is then negated by the larger tyres. Standard spec might not be so cool, but it could use less fuel. We have a guide on choosing the right tyres for your car.

10. Travel light

The less you carry, the less fuel you'll use so while it's tempting to leave items in your car this extra weight will reduce your car's fuel economy and increase CO2 emissions. If you have a roof rack, roof box or bike carrier attached to your car make sure you take it off when you no longer need it. While these space-saving items are handy you are carrying unnecessary extra weight and they spoil the carefully designed aerodynamics of your car, therefore increasing your fuel use.

11. Avoid short journeys 

If you need to run an errand and only have a short distance to travel in the car, try combining this errand with another to lengthen your journey. A cold engine typically uses twice as much fuel as a warm engine, so it’s better to use your car for a multipurpose trip instead – or you could get a bit of exercise in and walk instead!

By avoiding short journeys, you can effortlessly reduce fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and pollution. 

12. Plan your route

It's obvious that you're going to use a lot of unnecessary fuel if you're lost and driving around aimlessly, so before setting off make sure you plan your route. If using a Sat Nav, the 'shortest route' option might not always be beneficial - it could send you down narrow country lanes where you stand a good chance of getting stuck or blocked causing you to waste fuel while you wait for the path to clear. You're better off sticking to major roads and turning on traffic alerts.

13. Use fuel saving apps

There are a number of apps available for your handheld that will not only plan your journey but will also guide you to drive at an optimal speed, and measure the braking distance between you and the car ahead. Some examples are FuelGood, which is free, and iOnRoad - both available on Android and iOS.

Find out more about green vehicles

To learn more effective fuel consumption, visit our helpful eco cars FAQ where you can find a wealth of information about electric and hybrid cars. Or, take a look at our eco-friendly car comparison tool and discover the car that’s right for the environment, and for you. 

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