With the cost of petrol now well over the £1.00 per litre mark I want to share with you some tips to reduce your fuel costs and save money...petrol is my second biggest expenditure per month (after my mortgage) and I suspect it has an equally devasting affect on your personal finances too!
First, some basic sums to highlight the costs:
A typical motorists covers approximately 12,000 miles per year...this is on the increase and you may well find yourself covering more than this, as I do.
Let's assume that the average car driven by the average driver in average conditions achieves 35mpg... in order to cover 12,000 miles a total of 343 gallons will be required!
Assuming a very optomistic £1 per litre, and there being 4.54 litres to an (imperial UK )gallon = £4.54 per gallon x 343 gallons per year = £1557.22 per year on fuel alone! (£129 per month)
So what if we could cover the same mileage but achieve a higher MPG?
12,000 miles at 40 mpg is 300 gallons. Therefore a years fuel would cost £1362, (£113.50 per month) a saving of £195 per year, or £16 per month.
Pushing the theory further....
45 MPG = 266 Gallons = £1207 per year = £100 per month.
50 MPG = 240 Gallons = £1089 per year = £90 per month.
55 MPG = 218 Gallons = £990 per year = £82 per month
or reverse it...it gets worse!
30 MPG = 400 Gallons = £1816 per year = £151 per month
25 MPG = 480 Gallons = £2179 per year = £181 per month
20 MPG = 600 Gallons = £2724 per year = £227 per month.
Hopefully by now you're wondering how you can increase your MPG as much as possible and save £££'s!!!
I AM NOT SELLING ANYTHING.....READ ON FOR FREE ADVICE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
In the old days you were told to let your car warm up, especially on cold days. This is no longer necessary. Do not warm up the engine by letting the car idle. Drive off immediately after starting, but at a low speed. This way, the engine will warm up faster and lubricate better. A car uses as much fuel sat at idle for 5 minutes as it does covering 1 mile at normal road speeds.
Do it less! That doesn't mean crash into the vehicle in front of you but simply learn to anticipate congestion ahead. Brakes scrub off momentum you've already paid for by accelerating in the first place. So drive more gently, use the best lane for progressing the furthest each time you set off and keep a good distance from the vehicle in front...it'll make you safer and less stressed too!
Indeed, good anticpation especially in medium to heavy traffic can make for quicker progress!
Those of you who know me well will be thinking I have had a breakdown or been taken over by aliens, but no, it's true, the best way to save money is to slow down, especially on the motorway.
A typical car uses 25% more fuel at 70mph than at 55mph, or to put it another way... the typical car will do 35mpg at 70mph, 50mpg at 55mph but only 25 mpg at 90mph!!!
Do you think that it's really slow driving at 55mph and you don't have time?
A 10 mile journey at 90 mph will take 6 minutes and 40 secs.
A 10 mile journey at 70 mph will take 9 minutes and 10 secs
A 10 mile journey at 55 mph will take 10 minutes and 10 secs.
So 3 and a half minutes longer (or 1 radio song!) but use only 1/5th of a gallon compared to nearly half a gallon at 90mph!
A Big Turn Off.
Air conditioning or climate control are great, especially in the summer but you'll see an increase in fuel useage by 15-20% when you have them on. Why? Well the air is made cold by the use of motors and those motors use energy to work, like your refridgerator or freezer at home, except that in your car it's the engine that provides the energy which of course, comes from petrol. So unless you really need it on, it's prudent to keep it off.
(But do use it for at least 10 minutes every month to keep the seals and parts lubricated, regardless of the weather)
Any other electrical item steals power (and therefore fuel) from the engine too...electric windows, electric mirrors, stereo, electric sunroof, heater blower, rear demister etc...try and keep use of these items to a minimum.
It's a drag.
Car designers go to great lengths to design cars with low drag co-efficiency, i.e that cut through the air with the minimum of resistance. The benefits of this are three fold:
1)Less air resistance means less noise in the cabin.
2)Higher top speeds attainable.
3)Higher miles per gallon due to less energy being required to overcome air resistance.
So what do we do? Fit roof racks, storage boxes, spoilers, mud flaps and ridiculous looking body kits that undo all the good work the designer has done. Even having your windows down can increase fuel consumption by up to 20%.(The faster you go the worse the effect.)
So to improve economy, leave the bodykits and spoliers in the shop, remove roof racks and storage boxes when not in use and keep the windows closed..use the blower instead! (But maybe not the air-con!)
The heavier your vehicle, the move energy will be required to get it going and keep it going. Excess weight increases fuel use, increases braking distance and wear and tear on moving parts. Have a look around your car to see what you are carrying that needn't be there... Pram in the boot? Wellies, blankets, newspapers or bottles for recycling, tools, extra spare tyre etc are all guilty of stealing your fuel, making your car slower and less safe. Cut the fat!!!
Your only contact with the road are your tyres and it's common sense that they are in tip-top condition...when did you last check yours?...An under-inflated tyre is not only dangerous and can wear unevenly, causing you further cost for new ones, but it also increases rolling resistance, something that must be overcome in order to the move the car forward. The higher the rolling resistance the more energy (and fuel) required to move the car, so keep your tyres at the maximum allowed by the manufacturer for best economy and safety...underinflated tyres can cost you £50 (average car/driver remember!) per year in fuel alone!
When it comes to replacing your car, look at the MPG figures and compare....there are many internet car-review sites (Parkers is my favourite) you can use and just as many magazines on the newsagents shelf that will help too.
A Subaru Impreza Turbo may seem like a nice balance of performance and practicality but average MPG is 25mpg...ouch!
An Audi A4 2.0 FSI averages 40mpg...much better, and still has a top speed of over 130mph!
Consider diesel...although it would work out better for drivers covering 15,000+ miles there are some serious saving to be made....Again using Audi as an example, an A4 1.9 TDI will average 50mpg and hit 130mph! But does cost £1000 more than the petrol equivelant.
LPG has many benefits including a cleaner burn and therefore less impact on some parts of the engine, i.e. spark plugs and oil. It's also better for the environment. But the biggest reason for considering an LPG car or having a petrol car converted, is the price. LPG currently retails at around 40% of the price of petrol. LPG cars cover LESS miles per gallon (typically 15-20% than equivalent sized petrol engines) but the ££££'s figures stack up quite well.
Using the typical cars 35mpg as an example, converting it to LPG will result in around 28mpg average. But as fuel is less than half price, £4.54 (same as one petrol gallon) of LPG will get you over 60 miles.
A typical, quality, conversion with warranty and VAT will be around £1500-£1800 for a 4 cylinder car.
Lastly, do remember that diesel currently costs 5% more than petrol which erodes some of the financial benefits, especially for low mileage drivers.
After market add-ons.
There are various products out there, most of which use strong magnets, that claim to improve mpg by 10-15%. I am very sceptical about this as the most obvious question, of why the manufacturer didn't fit it in the first place?, is never answered. However, having never tried one of these for myself, I'll reserve total judgement and wish you good luck and best wishes if you decide to try it yourself....if you do then email me with the results please....I'd be very interested to know how you got on.
Fuel prices vary considerably between retailers and location. You can subscribe for free to "world wide web petrol prices dot com" to find the cheapest supplier in your area at a glance.
That's basically it folks, thanks for reading my ramblings and I hope you are able to use at least some of the advice to save yourself some money. For my part I'm considering my little lecture as my good deed for the day and I dare say, if you pass it on to your friends then you can consider that yours too!
I'd love to hear any genuine feedback of tips not mentioned herein. Please don't hesitate to contact me via ebay.