Using fuel is a luxury we're accustomed to, but despite recent dips in petrol and diesel prices it still makes up a huge chunk of most people's motoring costs.
Two record-breaking motor journalists, backed by the RAC, have shared the tips they used to drive through 14 European countries to seal the new world record for most countries visited on a single tank of fuel.
Andrew Frankel and Rebecca Jackson covered 1158.9 miles in their Audi A6, at an average consumption of 75.9mpg. Now they have joined forces once more to share advice on how to recreate their amazing achievement every day.
Rebecca said: “To set any kind of fuel efficiency world record you have to be looking ahead as much as possible to pre-empt oncoming hazards.
“This is a good general driving habit but it was absolutely crucial for us. It’s all about not losing momentum. Accelerating from being stopped is very costly in fuel consumption terms and so is going up any steep incline.”
Braking at all was a pitfall the pair tried to avoid. “We tried not to use the brakes as much by easing off the throttle to reduce speed,” Rebecca continued.
“You need to listen to the engine to make sure you don’t use excessive revs but you need to use enough, so it’s a fine balance as you don’t want the car to be labouring too much either.”
Andrew added his thoughts on speed and gradients. “If you are coming up to a roundabout you need to know whether you will be able to get through without slowing down too much by adjusting your speed very carefully before you enter,” he said.
“And if you have a hill coming up you need to judge not just the gradient, but its likely duration too. If you can see it’s just a short rise it’s better to coast up, lose the speed and stay in gear rather than change down early. Each hill is different and there is of course an element of guesswork.”
RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “We’re currently enjoying a period of low fuel prices but if we can all make our cars go further on less fuel that’s got to be good for the pocket and the environment. These tips can really make a difference and, applied with good technique can help to make you a better and safer driver.”
Here are Rebecca and Andrew's tips for reducing your everyday fuel consumption:
· Slowest speed, highest gear – the secret to achieving a high mpg figure is driving at the lowest speed you can, in the highest possible gear. This optimum fuel economy speed will be different for every car. But be aware that keeping a constant speed isn't the best way; use gradients to your advantage.
· Maintain momentum – keeping the car moving is key in maximising fuel economy. Obviously this depends on traffic conditions and what’s happening on the road ahead, but slowing down and having to accelerate again naturally uses more fuel.
· Gentle right foot –ensuring all acceleration is gentle is definitely important, but fuel-efficient driving is all about not upsetting the equilibrium of the car.
· Lighten the load – don’t keep unnecessary items in your boot as they add weight to your vehicle, which affects fuel economy. On average, every 50kg will increase your fuel consumption by 2%.
· Don’t get dragged down – don’t leave your roof bars on because they create wind resistance and cause your car to use more fuel through the ‘drag’ effect. An empty roof rack affects fuel consumption by about 10%
· Keep the pressure up – make sure your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure as indicated in your owner’s manual. This will vary depending on the load you are carrying: if you have four passengers and luggage then you will need your tyres at the maximum recommended pressures.
· Warm engine – consider making one round trip rather than several short trips. Once the engine is warm it will operate at its most efficient, whereas several cold starts will increase fuel consumption even though the total mileage could be the same.
· Might have to lose your cool – don’t use your air conditioning unless you really have to as it uses engine power, thereby increasing fuel consumption.
· Don’t forget the basics – make sure you maintain your vehicle as regular maintenance and servicing improves efficiency, and can therefore improve your fuel consumption.