Let's Slam The Brakes On Runaway MPG Costs
Released on: January 10, 2011, 5:41 am
ACF Car Finance
Shocked by just how much of your hard-earned cash now flows
straight into your car's fuel tank? Leyton Cooper, Group Buying
Manager for ACF Car Finance, offers some calming suggestions for keeping more of your
petrol money in your pocket.
I've always liked the one about the man who decided to try some of those
fuel-saving additives which promise a whole range of extra miles-per-gallon figures.
He emptied the lot into his car. "What happened?" said his friend. "I got two
miles down the road and the tank overflowed!" he explained.
Yes, I'm afraid there are a few snake-oil products out there which probably owe
more to wishful thinking than to actual science. But don't let that put you off
your search for squeezing additional precious MPGs from your petrol or diesel car,
and saving possibly hundreds of pounds each year.
It can be done if you follow a few tips which even the most experienced motorist
might be unaware of. In fact, it's often people who have been driving the longest
who have fallen into the worst driving habits as far as fuel economy is concerned.
Take, for example, that chap in the Rover pulling away painfully slowly from the
traffic lights. He probably imagines that irritating everyone behind is a price well
worth paying for all that petrol he'll be saving by keeping a light foot on the
accelerator pedal. But he's wrong.
Going up normally through the gears is by far the most fuel-efficient way to drive.
Why? Simply because you will reach your desired speed more quickly, and be in the
highest and most economical gear sooner than a petrol-sapping crawl.
And talking of top gear, there's another way that fifth - or, maybe, sixth - can
help increase the interval between your visits to the pumps. That's by changing up
the gearbox even earlier than many people do at present, and not waiting until the
engine's revs are at their thirstiest.
Most cars will quite happily move into top gear at around 30mph, allowing you to
start enjoying maximum fuel efficiency in the fastest possible time. And when you do
get there, remember that keeping the engine speed to between 2,000rpm and 2,500rpm
will give the best economy.
At ACF Car Finance, we know that customers these days are usually very well informed
about the miles per gallon they can expect from different makes and models - and
often base their buying decisions on the MPG figures they have read on car review
But just one important tip here. If those figures are taken from the claims of the
and not from actual test figures from users, then be a little cautious. Real-life
driving is often more demanding than the official EU tests that makers use, and in
most cases you can reduce their official combined figure by between 10 and 15
percent according to some motoring experts.
Having said that, you could come a lot closer to those estimates by adopting the
driving techniques I'm suggesting in this article. Here, though, is another
petrol-saving tip which is all about standing still, and could be especially
relevant if you do much of your driving in urban areas.
It's simply to turn off your engine while waiting for a line of vehicles to move,
especially at traffic lights. Yes, starting the car again does cause a small surge
of petrol into the injectors, but it's been estimated that this can easily be saved
if the waiting time is likely to be more than a minute.
In other words, you will know from your regular journeys which lights are likely to
delay you for more than about sixty seconds. So if they have just turned to red,
switch off and re-start on amber.
Talking of those day-to-day trips you take, perhaps going into work, don't ignore
the possibility that a slightly longer but less congested route could end up using
less petrol. In Chester, for example, the most direct route through the city can
take longer at peak traffic time than using the ring road... and I definitely know
which is the most frustrating.
But more importantly, I've proved on my car's trip computer that the longer route
is actually more fuel efficient. Try it for yourself, and you may be pleasantly
It won't, of course, come as a surprise to most people to learn that an open window
or sun-roof can create extra wind resistance leading to poorer fuel economy. Did you
know, though, that under-inflated tyres can have exactly the same effect by creating
additional drag? Let's face it: few of us check our tyre pressures as often as we
should, but those extra PSI to bring them back to normal could see you quids-in at
the petrol pump.
Another regular bit of maintenance which many of us overlook is the oil change. Cars
are designed to perform at their most efficient fuel economy levels when the engine
oil is fresh, so don't be surprised if you notice a dramatic improvement in MPGs
after the garage drains off all that tired old black stuff.
Engine oil level and condition is one of the 136 separate checks which ACF Car
Finance makes on each of the used vehicles it supplies to private buyers. We also
make sure that all those extras which cars now often boast - such as air
conditioning and electrical seat adjusters - are in good working order before a
vehicle is allowed on the forecourt.
Just because they do work, however, doesn't mean you should take every opportunity
to use them. Heaters, rear screen demisters, and even the car's sound system each
contribute to overall petrol consumption - so if this article is helping to turn you
into a real fuel miser, why not go the extra mile and just check if everything
switched on in your car is absolutely necessary.
That air-con, for example, can increase fuel consumption by up to an estimated 10
percent, so if it's just warm rather than hot outside, try using the cool setting
on the fan and turn the AC off.
Another not-so-obvious drain on your petrol tank could be hiding in the boot. Have
you checked to see if what you're lugging around on a regular basis is a must-have
for everyday journeys? Items such as such as a set of golf clubs might be far better
stored at home, rather than in the car where every 50kg of extra weight, it’s said,
can increase petrol costs by around 2 percent.
Something else we don't generally think about is how much we are actually paying
for fuel. Just comparing those prices displayed on the filling station forecourt
could save five pence or more per litre, and possibly a whole tank-full over a year
or so. Make a note on your next regular drive, or try www.PetrolPrices.com to find
up-to-date comparative prices in your home town.
Of course, the ultimate petrol-saving tip is to leave your car at home! That might
seem daft until you consider the benefits of car-sharing which many companies and
organisations now actively encourage. If there's no such scheme operating at your
place of work, why not have a word to see if arrangements could be made to match
staff to journeys?
We can be thankful that in recent years, car manufacturers have made tremendous
strides in improving the fuel efficiency of their engines. A few decades ago, 30-40
miles per gallon might have been considered a reasonable return, but today we have
every reason to expect figures up to fifty percent higher.
But for some people, moving up to a more modern and economical car is not always an
option. These days, even a slightly blemished credit report - or the absence of a
credit history - and stand in the way of obtaining finance, and might mean that
someone has no choice but to battle on with an older gas-guzzler. And often, these
are the people who can least afford the penalty of less efficient engines.
That's why ACF Car Finance came into being, and provides what many buyers find is a
much more sympathetic approach to helping them move up to a better pre-used car.
For all drivers, though, I hope that the pointers in this article will help improve
the economy of your motoring this year and into the future. We all know that
there's only one way petrol prices are likely to go in 2011... but what goes up at
the pumps can also go down if you decide to put the brakes on your fuel consumption
ACF Car Finance Limited (www.acfcarfinance.co.uk) is Britain's leading supplier of
high-quality used cars to people whose credit status might otherwise prevent them
from obtaining vehicle finance. There is a huge choice of makes and models on
display at the 7 ACF Car Finance showrooms in Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol
and other major centres of population - and each car comes with the benefit of a
full 136 point vehicle quality inspection and interior/exterior valet. ACF Car
Finance has earned a strong reputation within the finance and motor industry for its
standards of customer care, and the quality of the friendly, professional advice
provided by members of its fully-trained team. 44.9% APR Typical.
ACF Car Finance gratefully acknowledges the help of information and figures
published by What Car magazine (www.whatcar.com) and the Royal Automobile Club
(www.rac.co.uk) in the preparation of parts of this article.
Contact Details: Jane Whittle
ACF Car Finance
Chester Business Park
Chester CH4 9RF
Tel: 01244 625683
Fax: 0845 271 7827
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