A month ago, I decided to set myself a challenge to determine how much I could improve fuel mileage by driving more sensibly, and therefore how much money I could save by increasing my mpg.
You’ll be pleased to learn in this article that I follow my own advice. At moneystepper, we suggest anyone with a net worth less than £1m drives a second hand car. This is due to the amount of value that a new car loses as soon as it is driven off the forecourt.
I drive a 2004 Citroen C2 – lovely little car she is!
Because it’s now 10 years old, its mpg isn’t great. However, this doesn’t matter for my experiment. I wanted to determine how much difference I could make to my average mpg by driving sensibly.
My starting point
Now, I’m not a crazy driver my any stretch of the imagination. I usually accelerate fairly slowly, give myself a lot of time to break and don’t go far over the speed limit wherever I am.
My reading on the car over the past several thousand miles showed that my average mpg was 38.7 miles per gallon. This was from a mix of inner city driving, country roads and motorways.
The plan to improve fuel mileage
As per a previous article on moneystepper – How to Improve Your Fuel Efficiency – I already knew how I could improve fuel mileage by driving sensibly. The advice here can be broken down into the following areas:
- Drive in the highest gear possible.
- Avoid high speeds. The optimal speed for fuel efficiency is 55mph. Driving at 85mph uses 25% more fuel than driving at 70mph.
- Don’t accelerate too quickly.
- Avoid heavy breaking.
- Maintain the correct tyre pressure.
- Don’t leave your vehicle idle.
- Remove unnecessary weight from your car.
Therefore, for one month, I decided to live religiously by all of these rules.
Increasing my mpg – the result
After one full month of driving, and over 1,214 miles driven (a few trips over the length of the country for weddings and visiting family brought this number above our usual monthly average), I managed to increase my mpg from the historical average of 38.7 mpg to a much improved 48.2 mpg. This means that I managed to improve fuel mileage by 9.5mpg.
Over the course of the month, 1,214 miles driven at the original 38.7 mpg would have required 31.4 gallons of petrol. This is equal to 142.7 litres of petrol. The latest data from petrolprices.com indicate that the average price of petrol in the UK in October 2014 was 126.7p. Therefore, this petrol under my original driving techniques would have cost me £180.81.
Instead, by driving sensibly, I was able to improve fuel mileage and therefore my petrol use was reduced to 25.2 gallons (114.6 litres) which only cost me £145.19.
Therefore, over the course of one month, I was able to increase my mpg to such an extent that I reduced my petrol spend by £35.61. Annually, that would amount to £427.32.
And the savings wouldn’t end there. Accelerating less quickly would have been better for my engine, less heavy braking would have been better for my brakes, etc etc. Therefore, this more sensible approach to driving would have also led to significant savings in the maintenance of the car.
My only other consideration is whether driving this way detrimentally impacted my life in any way. Well, firstly, I would argue that it is safer and hence my probability of having an accident fell.
The only downside I can think of is time. On the motorway, I tended to drive at around 60 mph during this experiment. One trip we took, according to google maps, was 217 miles one way. At an average of 60mph, this would have taken us 3.6 hours. At an average of 80mph, this could have been reduced to 2.7 hours. Therefore, we could have saved ourselves around 55 minutes by driving more quickly.
However, in that 55 minutes I effectively earned £6.37 (this trip as a proportion of my monthly mileage applied to the monthly savings), it was safer and I didn’t break the law!
Driving sensibly can significantly improve fuel mileage and this can lead to some significant savings. Whilst it may take a little longer to get from A to B, just think about the following benefits:
- You are effectively earning money by driving more sensibly
- You are less likely to be involved in a fatal accident
- Your longer term maintenance costs on your car will also fall
As a final word, I must also highlight that the “maximise your average mpg” game on your electronic display is rather fun!! Safe (and sensible) driving everyone!