With fuel prices at a record high we all need to squeeze as many miles per gallon as we can out of our works van, so below are 12 tips that should help you to get just that bit extra from your fuel.
1. Be a smart shopper
Most things we buy in life will vary in price depending on the outlet we choose to purchase from the same applies for fuel. A little shopping around can bring about a big saving on your fuel costs over a 12 month period. If you are not aware of local fuel prices then a great way to check is www.petrolprices.com a website dedicated to providing you with the best up to date fuel prices for your area. The site requires that you sign up for free after which a quick check showed a 10p difference if fuel prices per litre for my local area.
2. Keep your tyres inflated
Ensuring that your tires are kept at the correct pressure can make your van up to 3% more fuel efficient than driving with under inflated tires. It’s estimated that as many as 50% of the tires on our UK roads are under inflated which not only bumps up the cost of your MPG but shortens the life expectancy of the tires. Try and check your tires at least once a month as all tires will gradually lose air over time (approximately 1 psi per month). Its worth noting that tires can also experience a pressure drop in cold weather so it’s advisable to check your tires pressure when they are cold. When tires warm up the air inside also heats up expands in the process, which in turn can give you a false pressure reading.
3. Empty your van
Avoid carrying any unnecessary equipment and tools in your van for any given job as the more weight you carry the more fuel your journey will consume. De-clutter your van as much as possible so not only do you increase your fuel efficiency but you decrease both the vans breaking distance and the change of theft from your vehicle.
4. Remove any exterior racks
If you have a roof rack on your van that’s not regularly used it will be more fuel efficient to add it to your van as and when needed as a roof rack will greatly increase wind resistance.
5. Reduce drain on battery
Air-conditioning, rear window heaters and demisters all use up extra fuel a 2010 report by the AA suggested that using both front and rear demisters could increase your vehicles fuel consumption by 6%. Leaving your vehicle to idle while the van heaters clear your windows is both a waste of fuel and an unnecessary creator of pollution. If your windows are full of ice or condensation then spend a few extra minutes before you set out scraping the frost, or clearing the condensation with a cloth. In warm weather using air conditioning whilst driving at a low speed will be less economical than opening the window and letting the fresh air cool your down. If you are driving on the motorway at high speeds on the other hand, air conditioning will likely be more cost effective than having all the windows down.
6. Service at regular intervals
Keeping your van engine in peak physical condition by having a servicing at regular intervals will ensure that your van is running at its highest efficiency.
7. Top up regularly
Driving around with a full tank of fuel increases the weight of your van which in turn burns more fuel. If possible try and fill up small amounts more often as the less fuel your van carries around the more efficient it is. The exception to this rule may be if you are out and about on the motorway where fuel prices can be extortionate, it will undoubtedly be cheaper to ensure that you have enough fuel to see your days work through than to fill up at these services.
If you only need the capacity of a large van a handful of times a year, it may be cheaper to downsize the van you use on a daily basis and hire a larger one as and when needed. A small van will be a lot more fuel efficient than a large heavy van even if you have the same size engine in both as you are carrying less weight around.
9. Reduce your speed
If you are up and down the motorway in your van there is a tendency to put your foot down to get there a little quicker, so you may be surprised to know how much extra the few minutes gained will actually cost you. According to the Department for Transport, driving at 70mph uses up to 9% more fuel than at 60mph and up to 15% more than at 50mph. Cruising at 80mph can use up to 25% more fuel than at 70mph.
10. Plan ahead and don’t get lost
Knowing your route before you set off on your journey can save a lot of time and wasted fuel if you get lost and end up driving miles out of the way. Be sure to check a route planner or a sat-nav equipped with real-time traffic alerts before you leave to ensure that you avoid any unnecessary traffic jams.
11. Economical driving
The most economical way to drive is to try and cut out any sudden stopping or acceleration so that your driving is as smooth as possible, as harsh breaking and heavy acceleration will drink up your fuel. Starting and stopping also uses more fuel so try and leave some distance between you and the driver in front, so that you can gradually slow or even roll along without stopping which is ideal. When driving try and use the highest gear that the engine is comfortable in for the speed you are doing this means changing up a gear at approximately 2000 rpm for a diesel and 2500 rpm for a petrol engine.
12. Conserving fuel
If you do happen to get caught in a traffic jam or long queue for more than 3 minutes turn off the engine to not only save fuel but reduce pollution in the process.