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Ten Top Tips to Increase the Fuel Mileage of Your Car

The best way to protect your bank balance is to spend less. But with the rising cost of petrol, everyone is feeling the pinch. By topping up your tank less, you can claw back some of the cost, but in order to do this you will need to increase your vehicles efficiency. Here we offer ten tips that will help you to increase the fuel mileage on your car and spend less money on petrol.

1. Limit your driving

There are a few ways to limit the amount of driving you do each week. If you can make your journey on foot, then do so. However if visiting the supermarket, for instance, you may need your vehicle to transport your shopping home. When you reach the supermarket, take the first parking spot you find. So many people waste time circling a car park looking for a space as near to the entrance as possible.

2. Keep your petrol tank above one quarter full

Always try to keep the petrol in your tank at least above the one quarter mark. Aim to fill up on fuel when its approximately half empty. If your tank is fuel injected, letting your petrol run low will put added pressure on the fuel pump.

3. Lighten your vehicle load

Every ten gallons of fuel weighs approximately 60 lbs in weight and weight is probably the biggest cause for loss of kinetic energy in non-hybrid cars. Whilst extra weight in the boot of your car is recommended throughout the winter to improve the traction of rear wheel drive vehicles, during the warmer months you should try to keep your car as light in weight as possible. If you never use your back seats, take them out. Remove your roof-rack if you are not using it. Don’t store heavy objects in the boot of your car. Every 100 lbs of weight increases your fuel consumption by approx 1-2%.

4. Drive slowly

The faster you drive, the harder your engine has to work. Fuel economy decreases rapidly above 60 mph due to the power needed to accelerate, so try to stay below this. Some cars will get a better mileage for your money when driving at a certain speed, this is often referred to as the “sweet speed”. For most cars the sweet speed is anywhere between 40-60 mph.

Ten Tips to Increase Fuel Milage on a Car© Image copyright James Yardley. Licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence 2.0.

5. Brake less

Accelerating after braking uses more petrol than driving at one constant speed. By braking you are, in effect, wasting energy from fuel that your engine has already burnt. If you see a red light or traffic jam in the distance then take your foot from the accelerator and coast slowly to a stop.

6. Don’t tailgate other vehicles

By driving too closely to the vehicle in front you will have to brake and accelerate more frequently. You will always be travelling no faster than the car in front of you, so pull back a little and maintain a single speed, and a healthy and safe distance.

7. Predict traffic lights

Traffic lights are one of the major causes for start/stop driving which is wasteful of fuel. On some sections of the road traffic lights are co-ordinated, so by sticking with the flow of traffic, you can usually pass through uninterrupted. Slow down when approaching a red traffic light and, if it turns green, you may not need to stop at all.

8. Avoid an idling engine

An idling engine is an obvious waste of fuel. A general rule of thumb is that if you are going to be idle more than about 10 seconds, turning off your engine until you need to drive off will save you fuel. For example, waiting in line at a drive-thru. But bare in mind that excessively starting your engine can wear the starter motor.

9. Buy the narrowest tyres available for your car

Narrow tyres reduce the aerodynamic drag on your vehicle. When your tyres need replacing select the narrowest tyres available for your make of car. Low Rolling Resistance tyres can also help with fuel economy. Check with an expert which tyre would be most suitable for your car before purchasing.

10. Plan your journey

Keep lists of things you need to accomplish throughout the day. This won’t increase your fuel mileage but it will help you to drive less which will cut your fuel consumption. If you find yourself stuck in rush hour traffic on the way home from work, leave later. You’ll not only be saving yourself fuel, but you’ll look like a star at work too!

What are your top tips to increase the fuel milage of your car? Let me know in the comments below.

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Hayley

Hayley is a fully fledged pistonhead. She regularly writes about motoring across a variety of niches, including vehicle servicing, road safety and auto reviews. She specialises in Mercedes-Benz.

24 Comments

  1. Thanks for the tip about keeping the fuel tank a quarter full – never realised this affected the fuel injection for my car!

  2. To make my last car become anywhere near to affordable for me you have have to cut it’s fuel costs by 95% (8 year old ford focus estate)

  3. Number 1 makes so much sense and it confuses me why some people use their cars for little tasks like going to the shop around the corner. It all adds up and it’s definitely not something I will be doing. If I can go by foot with ease that’s exactly what I intend to do.

  4. its always best to walk short journeys . niot only is it good for our health but it will save you money as well.

  5. Do you know if I will get better economy from my car if I use the cruise control on main roads or am I better off driving without it?

  6. Thanks for the tips. Especially the tenth one ‘plan your journey’ I am often stuck in traffic and found this tip especially helpful!

  7. Shouldn’t the drive slowly tip be combined with a drive “smoothly” tip, Changing gear at lower revs will save more fuel than driving slow.

  8. Another tip to save fuel is that when making a trip that involves multiple stops, use a website such as http://www.drivingrouteplanner.com/ to help you plan a route that ensures you only drive the shortest distance you need to! I used it when doing a CV drop around schools in my area to help me get work as a supply teacher. It not only saved my fuel but my time as well! 🙂 Double win!

  9. Another tip is to avoid unsing the air conditioner unless you really need it, as it increses the amount of fuel you use.

  10. Never knew the tip about keeping the fuel tank above one quarter full. It sort of goes against the gut feeling that extra weight in the car should be avoided. Thanks for the tip!

  11. I’ve followed a few of these tips over the last few months and have noticed quite a difference. Essential in these days of mega expensive fuel!!!

  12. i didn’t know that narrow tyres reduce the aerodynamic drag on your vehicle. Will definetely change the tyres. Thanks for the tips.

  13. I have no idea if my tank is fuel injected but I’m going to start keeping it a quarter full just in case! x

  14. It`s great to read and learn new ways to increase fuel mileage in my car so far I seam to be doing every thing right keep up the good work a pleasure to read articles

  15. great article, very useful information on eco-driving and also how to make the fuel last longer, especially now i’m learning to drive, this would make a great pocket guide…x

  16. All the points you make are really obvious but still we all do the opposite every time we drive. Must try to be more conscious of fuel economy in the future.

  17. It’s funny how you say to keep your petrol tank above quarter full because me and my partner have always believed this to be true… Most people laugh at us though so it’s good to know we’re not crazy 🙂 x
    @hannahmdy

  18. I love these tips, I’ll be passing them on to my husband who always seems to use double the amount of fuel that I do!

    I remember when putting ten pounds of fuel in your car used to last you a week …. now I’m lucky if ten pounds even turns the fuel light off!

    🙂

  19. Thank you for an informative article, now we need to apply some of these points to be fuel friendly!

  20. thanks for the tips to save fuel,do most of these but didnt know about the tyres will definetly be looking into this.thank you x

  21. Hadn’t heard the tip about keeping your fuel above one quarter full, so hadn’t realised about the added pressure on the fuel pump. The remainder are all good ideas too!

  22. My hubby has recently retired, so we have had to make a lot of cut backs financially. We decided to spend less on fuel each month, and so far we have managed. We go to the supermarket out of town less and instead go to shops/supermarket locally either by car if we need a lot or my hubby walks each day for the exercise. When we are out in the car we try to make as many errands as possible so we don’t have to go out again. We already do quite a few of your tips, but didn’t know about filling up before the tank gets too low, so will take note of that

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