Could you imagine life without a car, especially with kids? How would
you cope with all those supermarket trips, school runs and general ferrying about that
are part and parcel of modern parenting?
The downside of car ownership these days is the cost. If it feels like every trip to the
petrol pump is like taking out a second mortgage, perhaps it’s time to look at making
your car, and your car use, more efficient.
Polish your driving skills
Your driving style affects fuel consumption and may increase wear and tear on
expensive parts like the clutch. Driving at a consistent speed, when possible, and
breaking and accelerating less will help your car’s efficiency, as will using the right
When you’ve been driving for years it’s easy to slip into bad habits. If you need to
brush up your driving skills, consider an advanced motoring course or assessment.
Get more information from the Institute of Advanced Motoring.
Plan your trip
Planning the time and route of your trip can also help with efficiency. Try avoiding
rush hour traffic and streets with speed bumps, if possible. Also consider whether you
need to drive at all. Perhaps you can walk, ride a bike, or lift share with a colleague or
Keep your vehicle maintained
Finding time to regularly maintain your vehicle, or paying someone to do it for you,
is a wise investment. As well as improving road safety, it will also mean you’re less
likely to incur expensive damage which costs a fortune to fix.
Regular maintenance will also improve fuel efficiency. The air filter, engine oil
and tyre pressure all affect the amount of petrol you use, so check these regularly
and change parts when necessary. Fancy tackling some of these maintenance tasks
yourself? Invest in a Haynes manual and save pounds on garage bills too.
Don’t carry excess weight
Clearing out your car is a quick and simple way to increase fuel efficiency, especially
if, like me, you tend to treat your car like a giant second handbag. Leave all those
bikes, scooters, skates and extra child seats at home when you don’t need them.
Still haven’t got round to removing the roof box off after that Bank Holiday break?
Take it off and leave it at home. Roof racks and roof boxes make the car less
aerodynamic, which means you use more fuel. If you need to carry heavy or large
items, use the boot whenever possible.
When you’re driving on a hot day, avoid using air-con at low speeds as it increases
your petrol consumption. Instead, open the windows if you need to cool down.
If you’re driving at speed however, the opposite applies. Open windows increase
drag, which in turn increases fuel consumption more than using the air-con would. So
windows open at low speeds, air-con for motorways.
Shop around for fuel
Changing petrol stations could be one of the easiest ways to make your car more
efficient. Saving a few pence a liter might not seem like a big deal, but when you add
it up over a year, or even five years, imagine what you could buy with the money.
Jimmy Choo shoes anyone?
Keep your eyes peeled for offers when you’re shopping. Often supermarkets reduce
fuel prices if you spend over a certain amount in store. Alternatively pay with a cash-
back credit card, so you’ll earn while you spend. Use petrolprices.com to find the best
deals in your area.
Choose an efficient car
Start the way you mean to go on. Choose an economic vehicle that suits your driving
needs and it’ll be easier to be efficient. Take into account fuel efficiency, insurance
costs and taxation. Maintenance is another consideration. Can you do the work
yourself, or employ a local mechanic to do it for you? Some vehicles need to be
maintained at a dealership, which will considerably increase maintenance costs.
For all-round reliability and efficiency a Volkswagen is a great choice. Polos and
Golfs are perfect family run-arounds, whilst a Passat Estate has the space and power
to cope with anything a modern family requires. Five seats not enough? The seven-
seater Touran is one of the most economical people carriers out there.
Featured guest post written by Susan Pinna, a freelance writer and copywriter from the UK. She currently lives in Puglia, Southern Italy.