Costly errors: How these 7 minor mistakes can inflate your fuel bills

Costly errors How these 7 minor mistakes can inflate your fuel bills

The RAC has warned UK drivers that fuel prices could rise to at least £1.50 per litre in a few weeks time.

With this being said, drivers can conserve fuel and save money by knowing how their driving habits affect fuel economy and adopting fuel-saving techniques.

The experts at Uswitch car insurance have put together the most common mistakes made by UK motorists that could be costing you more money on fuel ahead of the nationwide fuel price increase.

7 common driving habits that could be damaging your car

Driving too fast

Driving too fast, accelerating aggressively, and braking hard when you don’t need to are some of the most significant ways that you can waste fuel. Aggressive driving makes your engine work harder, so it has to burn more fuel. For example, driving at 80mph can mean you use up to 25% more fuel than driving at 70mph.

Driving in the wrong gears

Driving in lower gears than necessary results in wasting fuel and could even damage your vehicle, leading to expensive repairs. Driving in the correct gear increases your miles per gallon and your fuel efficiency. Additionally, you should change gears at the lower revs. The faster your engine spins, the more fuel you consume when changing gear.

Not maintaining your car as you should

Neglecting car maintenance can reduce your fuel economy significantly. Dirty oil, clogged air filters, low tyre pressure, and faulty spark plugs can seriously impair your engine’s performance. Keep up with regular maintenance and inspections for optimised fuel efficiency.

Unnecessary and excessive idling

Do you often drive in traffic? Leaving your vehicle running while stopped in traffic, parked, or for any other reason means it’s still burning fuel even though you’re not moving. This wastes fuel, so turning off your engine is often better until you’re ready to move again.

Driving with under- or over-inflated tyres

Under-inflated or over-inflated tyres can significantly increase your fuel consumption. If your tyres aren’t inflated to the correct PSI (the metric used to measure tyre pressure) they can deform, creating more surface area in contact with the road. This will increase your car’s rolling resistance – the friction between the tyre and the road – reducing fuel efficiency. Most tyres naturally lose around 2 PSI of air each month, so checking your tyre pressure regularly is essential.

Driving with too much weight

Many of us are guilty of using our cars as an extra storage space, storing anything from golf clubs to prams, files and books, and even for extra wardrobe space. However, the heavier your vehicle, the more fuel it will use. This is especially true when stopping and starting in traffic. A good declutter might be needed to increase your car’s fuel efficiency.

Driving with roof rails or racks

Roof racks increase air resistance as you drive. This reduces your engine’s performance and, therefore, your mileage. Carrying items on a roof rack, such as bicycles, skis, and storage pods, can seriously decrease your efficiency, so remember to remove these when you’re not using them.

Uswitch car insurance expert, Leoni Moninska, suggests ways to improve your fuel economy:

“The amount of fuel your car consumes depends on how you drive. You can conserve fuel by learning how your driving habits affect your car’s fuel economy. Some common habits include driving too fast or improperly accelerating and braking, driving in the wrong gears, or excessively idling. Avoiding these driving habits can increase your fuel economy.

“There are also things you can do outside of changing how you drive that can help you save fuel. Fuel costs, for example, vary widely, so do your research to find the cheapest fuel in your area. Motorway service stations are the most expensive, while supermarket stations can sometimes have lower rates.

“Another tip to reduce fuel consumption is to avoid using your AC where possible. Turning on your air conditioning or heating uses engine power, which burns fuel. But don’t swap your air conditioning for lowering your windows. Open windows cause drag and again reduce your fuel efficiency.

“Carpooling can also be an effective way to save money on travel costs. Sharing a journey with others is cheaper, greener and more sociable than travelling alone. It is often easy to arrange with work colleagues or other parents on your school run.

“Finally, you might also be able to benefit from fuel-efficient technologies such as cruise control and energy-saving settings in many newer cars. Having an accurate GPS can also help, as avoiding traffic jams and longer routes can save you lots of fuel.”

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