top tips on economy motoring

there are a number of things you can do to squeeze a few extra miles out of each litre. read on

As certain as the sun will rise tomorrow, petrol prices will continue to rise. So the economy-minded motorist has two avenues to explore: seek out the most fuel-efficient cars and learn to drive more efficiently to save money and the environment. But how? Here we describe some useful tips to reduce the cost of your motoring and help the environment!

Modern automobile technology has made great strides in reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, but handling the car correctly is also one of the biggest and often insufficiently explored factors in saving fuel. Anyone who puts even a few of these important hints into practice will reap the benefit in hard cash next time the car is filled up. By making sure that your car is well looked after and by adopting a suitable driving style, it's easy to squeeze the greatest mileage out of every drop of fuel.

As far as the car itself is concerned, regular routine maintenance is essential. It is also important to check the tyre pressure because low-pressure causes increased rolling resistance and costs more money in two areas - in fuel and tyre wear.

Those who are determined to get the maximum fuel economy may choose to inflate the tyres up to one or two tenths of a decimal point above the specified pressure in bar. Another useful tip is not to carry unnecessary ballast around in the boot. A 100-kilogram load can result in increased fuel consumption by more than five mpg in town driving.

For further fuel-saving success, don't leave the roof rack on when you don't need it - everything that worsens the car's aerodynamics also causes it to consume more fuel. Turning off electrical accessories like air conditioning, rear window demister or additional lights also results in fuel saving, because they all use some fuel in their operation.

Look ahead

While on the move, the golden rule is to look well ahead and maintain steady speeds. Unnecessary accelerating and braking not only costs fuel but frayed nerves as well. Accelerate briskly but not aggressively: it's better to press the accelerator pedal down further in a higher gear than to run the engine up to high revs. Shift up to top gear as soon as you can. Drive in top gear from around 30 mph and keep to low revs (between 2000 and 3000 rpm) whenever possible.

Using only 75 per cent of the vehicle's top speed is also economical. It results in fuel savings of up to 50 per cent with only a negligible loss of time. In winter, don't warm the engine up with the car at a standstill. Instead, drive off immediately after starting the engine and let it warm up to operating temperature while driving within a medium rpm range.

Switch off the engine for stops of one minute or longer. Many modern cars have this stop/start facility as part of their engine management system.The engine burns fuel even while idling. The automatic fuel intake shutdown while coasting, while driving down a hill or while braking, provides another means of saving fuel. So don't use the accelerator while coasting and don't take the vehicle out of gear.

Use of the 'sports' option and unnecessary manual shifting lead to increased fuel consumption in vehicles with automatic transmissions. The engine operates most frugally in the 'D' gear, which can almost always be used. Gentle, even pressure on the accelerator pedal causes the transmission to shift earlier to an energy saving gear.

The most valuable fuel-saving hints in brief:

Don't warm the engine up with the car at a standstill. Drive off right away instead.

Drive at steady speeds, looking well ahead and use fifth gear (or the car's top gear) for all regular driving.

Don't step on the fuel pedal while coasting and remain in gear. Switch off the engine if you have to wait for more than a minute.

Accelerate briskly and shift up early.

Use only 75 per cent of the vehicle's top speed.

Avoid full acceleration and kickdown with automatic and automated manual transmissions. Apply pressure to the accelerator pedal in a restrained manner.

Check tyre pressures regularly.

Remove the roof rack when not in use.

Remove unwanted objects from the car. Shut down electricity consumers when not needed.

Service the vehicle regularly.