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I have used the subject 'petrol price debate' to highlight how to save money on fuel at a time when fuel prices are escalating out of control thanks to greedy oil companies & slimey worthless parasites, a.k.a. politicians.
As an ex-mechanic I always used to see an increase in complaints from customers after a budget on poor fuel consumption. They would always fill up their cars with a set amount of fuel (e.g. £20.00), when the price went up after a budget they would get less fuel for the same £20.00. They would then come to the garage & complain that the vehicle was using more fuel when in fact there was less fuel in the tank in the first place. They would never be convinced until you checked it over & of course seldom was a fault ever found.
Cars today have never been so fuel efficient, thanks to a number of factors such as the use of lightweight but strong materials and more efficient fuel management systems. Even cars built in the past ten years have these benefits. If you have a fuel consumption read out in your car you can monitor fuel consumption quite well. However a normal fuel gauge is just a gauge not an accurate meter, many complaints from car owners on poor fuel consumption are down to erratic gauges or not calculating their figures correctly. Don't expect to get the fuel consumption figures that car makers supply, these independent figures are taken in perfect conditions & don't allow for cold starts & hill climbs etc. Cars with small engines are not always the cheapest on fuel, try driving a small engine car on a motorway; you are constantly pushing the engine to keep up to higher speeds & thus wasting fuel. A larger engine doesn't have to pushed so much & saves fuel.
With fuel prices eating up a large chunk of our motoring budget, it becomes more important than ever to try and reduce our overall fuel costs. Keeping your vehicle in good running order is paramount to reducing fuel costs, the more efficient your vehicle is the more fuel you will save. This means regular servicing and maintenance, a car that suffers a slipping clutch, burst exhaust, faulty catalytic converter, binding brakes, faulty thermostat or even a dirty air filter will all contribute to poor fuel consumption. If you drive mainly short runs where the vehicle is never getting a chance to reach normal running temperatures you will use considerably more fuel than driving a greater distance with an engine up to normal temperatures. Where you drive also makes a difference, avoid traffic jams if possible, as constant stopping and starting will waste fuel. As much as one litre of fuel can be wasted on a small economical car that is sitting in traffic for one hour, double it for a larger car.
Your driving style plays an important role too, driving the way you were taught anticipating the road ahead rather than leaving decisions to the last minute all helps to save fuel. Driving on a motorway at 85mph (illegal) instead of the legal limit of 70 mph will waste fuel, by cutting down your speed you can save half a litre of fuel per ten miles. Keep to the legal limit for forty miles and you could save around £1.70, cut your speed even more and you will save even more.
Air conditioning is fantastic way of keeping cool in the car and is essential on very hot days. Many car owners who have climate control (automatic air conditioning) have the air conditioning on more than is actually required. By switching it off you will save fuel, at 30mph over ten miles it will cost around 12p. Keeping the air conditioning on will use about an extra 5 litres of fuel from a tank of fuel on an average family car. Keep the side windows closed when driving, open windows adds to heavier fuel consumption. If you only use your roof rack once a year for the holidays, remove it for the remainder of the year as it too contributes to heavier fuel consumption. The correct tyre pressures are also important; under inflated tyres use more fuel.
It may look all rather trivial and penny pinching, but there are real benefits to be had if you make the effort. Realistically you don't want to travel a 10 mile round trip to a garage to save 1.5p on a litre of fuel when the fuel you used to get there costs more. However, making some basic sensible changes will see great savings and give you the incentive to save even more.
Look at prices at the pumps locally; there are a number of web sites that compare prices in your area such as www.petrolgauge.com & www.whatprice.co.uk/local-petrol-prices . Supermarkets often do promotions, spend a set sum of money on your weekly shopping and get 5p a litre off fuel, that is a big offer and on an average car could save you about £4.00 filing your tank.
Why pay extra for super unleaded when normal unleaded will do? Oil companies can give ample evidence of the improvements to your engine that super unleaded will provide. However, with the majority of cars on the roads you will see no difference at all. Why waste your money? Some people will tell you that their car runs better on super unleaded than normal unleaded, in some cases it's all in the mind. Only in some exceptional cases, running on super unleaded makes a difference. Super unleaded can cost up to 5p more per litre than normal fuel. One company claims you get more mpg with their 'super fuel' but you are paying 5p a litre extra for it & thus saving very little.
Can I run my car on vegetable oil? If you run an older diesel car you can in some cases use new or even used vegetable oil in the fuel tank. Used oil is cheaper to buy than new oil but you are required to pay duty on which ever one you use. However, there are some points that you need to seriously consider. You need to inform HM Customs and Excise on your intentions, they will register you as a user and you will be required to keep all receipts and expect to pay duty on it, if not, you are likely to find yourself locked up for tax evasion. How will you obtain a regular supply? Often supermarkets will limit your purchase requirements and your local chip shop will soon get sick of you constantly asking for another supply of used oil. The other factor you need to take into account is that minor adjustments to your vehicle will probably need to be made. You need to get the mix of oil and diesel correct, in the summer a 50% mix of both would suffice but in winter use less vegetable oil. If in any doubts, don't do it, you won't get any help or advice from your local franchised dealer as the whole exercise is usually frowned upon. Don't even attempt to do this if you run a petrol car. Incidentally, running your diesel on vegetable oil does leave a rather mouth watering smell from the exhaust!
What about LPG? It has been around for a while now and many vehicles were converted to run on LPG (liquid petroleum gas) with financial assistance through approved government schemes. LPG is about half the cost of unleaded fuel and that alone is a great incentive to have the conversions installed. Now the government subsidies have ended and although LPG remains quite cheap there are no longer incentives for the average motorist to consider a conversion. LPG converted cars are now filtering through on used car lots and should you purchase one of these vehicles you can make great savings using LPG. Most vehicles can run on both petrol and LPG, as they use separate tanks, if one runs out you can switch to the other quite easily. The advantages of running LPG are its low cost per litre, so overall running costs will be substantial reduced, if the conversion has already been done, that alone is a great saving, almost £2000. Disadvantages are LPG is only available from selected filling stations, the LPG tank in the car is usually mounted where the spare wheel is normally fitted meaning you need a new home for the spare wheel. Thankfully, very few cars have suffered any major problems with the LPG conversions fitted but badly installed or non approved versions can prove very problematic.
SUMMARISE ON SOME SAVING MONEY TIPS
Do your homework on the Internet & find out who is selling the cheapest fuel in your area. Have your vehicle serviced & maintained regularly. Use your air conditioning sparingly. Avoid traffic jams, you waste fuel 'stopping & starting'. Use normal unleaded fuel rather than super unleaded Keep the windows closed and remove that roof rack if it isn't being used. Look out for promotions at supermarkets with discounts on fuel when you spend over a certain amount on shopping. Keep your speed down & you will save fuel. Keep those tyres correctly inflated. Avoid driving in snow, it will reduce fuel consumption. Drive as you were taught, anticipating the road ahead. Buy an economical car in the first place.