fuel-saving tips for longer journeys - putting a brake on motoring costs

families who take to the road to keep their youngsters amused over the holidays can save enough money through simple fuel-saving driving techniques to round off the summer with a free trip to the cinema or lunch out, says the aa...

On the motorway alone, as much as £20-25 can be clawed back from school holiday trips to the seaside, amusement parks, relatives and to other tourist destinations. Even motorists taking friends and family to airports can recover the cost of short-term parking from a round trip of 80 miles.

FIVE HOLIDAY FUEL-SAVING TIPS Load luggage on your roof rack as low as possible. Wrapping the luggage in plastic sheeting improves fuel economy by two per cent. If you are staying in the same place, it is worth removing the roof rack before driving to beaches and tourist attractions but make sure you don't lose any of the bits.

Try your air vents before opening windows: you may find that the airflow is enough to keep two people comfortable in the front of the car, particularly on a motorway.

Don't use the air conditioning all the time: once the air conditioning has cooled the inside of the car, you may be able to turn it down or off.

If you are carrying extra passengers or heavy luggage, pump up the tyres to compensate for the extra weight. The car's handbook gives advice on this.

If you park in the sun, using a windscreen shade and opening up the car as soon as you get back to it, will help to cool the interior. Open windows while you drive out of a car park may lower the inside temperature several degrees before you start the air conditioning. Turn the air con setting to moderate.


1. Shop around for your fuel. Prices can fluctuate quite significantly even in the same area.

2. Check you tyres - it's estimated that 50% of tyres on the road are under inflated which increases wear and wastes fuel. Worn tyres also reduce fuel efficiency so regularly check the tread gauge on all tyres.

3.Drive in the highest gear possible without labouring the engine. It's the most fuel-efficient way. A vehicle travelling at 37mph in third gear uses 25 percent more fuel than at the same speed in fifth gear.

4. Have your car serviced regularly and your emissions checked. Modern unleaded, low sulphur fuels leave sticky residues in fuel systems that reduce engine efficiency and performance (a poor service record will also knock around £500 off the value of your car when you come to sell it!).

5. Don't coast in neutral - it doesn't save you fuel. When you slow down stay in gear as modern cars automatically shut of fuel to the engine if you're not accelerating, but they will use fuel when in neutral.

6. Close your windows. Driving with them open drastically reduces your fuel efficiency, far more so than putting the air conditioning on when motorway driving.

7. Drive smoothly, applying light throttle and avoiding heavy braking by predicting traffic queues. Research shows this can improve car fuel efficiency by as much as 30 percent.

8. Keep loads to a minimum and remove roof racks when not in use, as they affect the aerodynamics of your car and increase fuel consumption. Even England Car flags will increase drag and in turn fuel consumption!

9. Consider fuel efficiency (MPG) when shopping for a new car as even similarly sized cars can vary massively in their fuel consumption by up to 45%.

10. If buying a new car, consider the depreciation costs as well as fuel efficiency (these make up 60% of your motoring costs). Consider a pre registered car as this can knock up to 38 per cent off the price when new.