How Motorists can Keep the Costs of Driving Down
They say that looking after the pennies ensures that the pounds will look after themselves. I’m guessing “they” don’t have a car. You don’t get far on a penny’s worth of petrol these days; in fact you don’t get far on a pound’s worth of the stuff. Apart from petrol costs, motoring involves plenty of other costly items as well, the road tax, the insurance and of course the vehicle and its maintenance. There are few of these that you can really cut any sharp corners on, although petrol costs can be kept down a little by following some sensible tips.
The economy may be feeling a bit flat at the moment but if your tyres have come out in sympathy it’s time to give them a boost. According to the RAC, driving with under-inflated tyres can add a nice two per cent to your fuel bill. While this may not seem like much and may only be around ten pence per gallon, those gallons soon add up. So does that two per cent. The AA and RAC both suggest that around fifty per cent of drivers have under inflated tyres, which suggest that at least half of motorists have more money than sense. If you aren’t one of them, check your tyres once a week and check your car’s manual to see what the recommended pressure is.
One recurring cost is the MOT and this can’t be avoided. However, many drivers add further costs to this yearly mechanic’s bonanza, by avoiding regular maintenance for their vehicles. There are some basic things you can do to reduce engine wear (keep that oil topped up) but a regular professional service will help to cut costs. Yes, this in itself costs, but a basic service can identify problems and fix them before the MOT. Mechanics don’t make a lot out of money from MOTs themselves, but they do make a lot by drawing their breath in sharply and shaking their heads before passing your car. In many cases if you want the car back quickly there’s an added “Cough up Now” tax to pay.
Weights and measures
Roof racks are great but also fiddly and annoying, so it’s understandable that many people just take the “devil may care attitude” to their bank balances and leave roof racks in place all year. They’ll add weight to your car which, just like an under-inflated tyre, can increase your fuel bill. Again it’s not much, just one of those niggling little two per cents per 50 kg of extra weight. Boots filled with useful accessories (golf clubs for last minute completely unplanned games of golf) all add to the cost of motoring by weighing down the car by that extra little two per cent.
Where do all the Sunday drivers come from?
Sometimes it seems like the road is full of Sunday drivers, doesn’t it? There’s a reason for that; careful driving saves fuel which means they can afford to get all over the place. The RAC and AA have both completed research that suggests that the insane idea of “Eco Driving” may not be quite as crazy as it seems. Driving smoothly, using high gears and avoiding accelerating and braking can save up to thirty per cent on your fuel bill. Changing gear carefully (2500 revs in petrol and 2000 in diesel) reduces consumption and braking gently and skipping down gears or up them (3rd to 5th or vice versa) also reduces the need to brake or accelerate.
Sorry, Mr C
At least one “Top Gear” presenter may want to take you outside and shoot you for this, but just use the car in a slightly greener way – even if you’ve no interest in saving the planet. The original form of transport (legs) can get you a surprisingly long way and can even save you on petrol costs. Just don’t pop into a service station to buy energy food, it’s more expensive than petrol. Drive, if possible, at quieter times which can help to avoid the stop/start driving style which guzzles the gallons.
You’ll not save a fortune with all of these tips but you’ll save a little by following each. By far the largest savings can be had by using eco driving tips and reducing the amount you use the car. Not all trips can be cut but by driving carefully, keeping an eye on the flow of traffic and also maintaining the car well, you’ll find those gallons may just get you that little bit further.
Written by The Spy, 18 June, 2012 - 15:05