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Fuel economy in your car

- Become a greener driver
- Green cars special

With petrol prices seemingly rising by the day and the threat of more to come further down the line the hard pressed motorist should be driving in a way that gets you improve the mpg from your car. Drivers waste an average of &pound600 a year on fuel they could have avoided using in their everyday driving habits. Here we offer you some top tips to maximise your mileage from a tank of petrol and save on your fuel bill:

Do you need to make the journey by car?If you are just going round the corner to buy a paper could you walk or cycle? It will all help to add up to the 10,000 steps a day the government want us to take to increase our fitness and decrease our weight as a nation. You will also be helping the environment but cutting down on vehicle emissions. Perhaps you should by yourself a bike or a moped if you have lots of short journeys around town.

Can you get a lift from someone else? If you drive to work could you share the driving with a colleague so only one car rather than two is used each day. Remember employers can also pay up to 20p per mile for business miles by bicycle and up to 5p per passenger mile to encourage car sharing.

Are you driving the right car? New technology and smaller cars are your best bet - if you are looking for vehicles that will get the most out of each tank of fuel during city driving. If a smaller car will not fulfill your needs but you still want to be more fuel thrifty, take a look at the most fuel-efficient vehicles of their class. Compare data on miles per gallon between manufacturers.

You can check out the official mileage data here It lists the fuel consumption, CO2, and other emissions performance figures of NEW cars, currently on the market in the UK. It also seeks to advise on key environmental issues as well as giving guidance on ways of reducing the impact of cars on the environment. It lists the 10 best petrol fuelled and 10 best diesel powered cars. What is quite clear from the guide is that there are large differences - up to 45% - in the fuel economy of different models using the same fuel within the same size range. So by choosing the most fuel-efficient vehicles you could save £900 per year if your vehicles are doing 20,000 miles a year.

Have you thought about switching to LPG A litre of LPG currently costs around half the price of petrol or diesel on the forecourts, thanks to the low level of fuel duty on this cleaner fuel. While a litre of LPG only allows a vehicle to travel approximately 75% of the distance it could travel on a litre of petrol, the cost savings to be made by switching to this fuel are still considerable. More and more vehicles with an LPG option are now available direct from manufacturers. Using LPG therefore works out around 2.9p per mile cheaper than petrol. The initial 'extra' cost of £1,900 for the LPG car - a fairly typical figure for a good quality conversion- is recovered after around 66,000 miles (£1900/0.029). Check out some LPG models.

Have you thought about switching to diesel? Diesels have better residual values and even though diesel costs the same as petrol, a diesel engine (equivalent size) will do 20% more miles per gallon. Diesel cars are often quicker too - with more torque than petrol cars. This is an option that many drivers are choosing.

Once you have decided that you need to make your journey in your carefully chosen car then there are even more things you can do to increase your mpg.

The AA's top suggestions are:

1. Check your route on the radio, internet, etc before you leave. Avoid a traffic jam and avoid losing a couple of pence for every minute the car is staionary in a queue.

2. Moderate use of air conditioning. Will the air vents keep you comfortable, particularly early morning and the evening? The impact of using air con can pump up fuel consumption by up to 11% on slower roads.

3. Driving around with an empty roof rack adds 10% to fuel consumption, an open window also disrupts air flow adding a further 3-6%.

4. On motorways, keep to the speed limit. Driving at 85 mph instead of 70 mph increases petrol consumption by 20-25%.

5. Don't tailgate. You have to brake harder to avoid hitting the car in front, lose momentum and have to accelerate harder to regain the original speed. A measured speed keeps fuel consumption more constant.

And Ford has a series of useful fuel-saving driving techniques

Anticipate Traffic Situations by looking and thinking ahead
• Helps maintain a steady fuel-efficient speed
• Reduces the need for heavy braking and acceleration
• Enhances relaxed driving style
• Enables co-operative and safer driving style

Drive at lowest comfortable engine revs (r.p.m.) using the highest possible gear (at constant speed)
• Increases fuel economy
• Reduces emissions and noise
• Improves environmental performance / reduces impact of motoring.

Switch off the engine whenever safe to do so (e.g., loading & unloading, longer stops in stationary traffic)
• Avoids unnecessary energy consumption of an engine running at idle and keeps exhaust emissions to the minimum.

Check weekly and adjust tyre pressure to manufacturers' recommended levels, according to loading and speed driven
• Aids optimum economy and additionally contributes to safety

Remove unnecessary cargo from the car to reduce weight.
• Improves fuel economy – less energy needed for acceleration.

And finally some extra tips from Tiscali's Motoring Section Editor

1. Regular servicing helps keep your car operating at peak efficiency. An inefficient engine—with fouled spark plugs, for example—won't make optimum use of fuel. Be sure the air filter and the fuel filter are clean. Put in new ones if they're not.

2. Make sure your petrol cap fits tightly and buy a new one if your current cap does not fit snugly. Petrol can easily evaporate if the cap is not airtight.

3. Have look at our new car buying guides


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