IN THE FACE of rising fuel costs, motoring experts take great delight in sharing with us their views on how to save on the cost of petrol.

In fact, What Car even designed a special eco-driving course to prove that it was possible to cut fuel consumption by an average of 21% by applying ten basic techniques.

Among the suggested techniques were the recommendations that the driver maintain momentum, change up gear earlier, and shed any excess weight.

In fact, here is a list of genuine suggestions – with my comments:

Maintain momentum.

In other words, don’t stop. Keep going.

As if we drivers actually like stopping! No, the whole point in driving a car is to keep going.

Change up a gear as early as possible. The fewer revs the engine is doing at any given speed, the more miles it’ll do to the gallon.

Really? And there was me thinking that the more I revved my engine (while sitting going nowhere) the more fuel I was saving. Sheeeesh!

Shed weight. The lighter your car is, the less fuel it’ll use.

Sounds reasonable… but the first thing I’m going to get rid of is my collection of magazines and newspapers in which motoring experts write patronising columns and insist on treating me as a complete nincompoop.

Choose an eco route. …remember that a longer route might cut your fuel bills if there’s less stop-start traffic.

And there again, it might not. Why do I think that the writer of this report was struggling to make his list up to nice, round “ten”? How are you supposed to judge whether a route that takes in two villages and a town is more fuel economical than a 60-mile country road detour complete with tractors and little girls on ponies to contend with?

Slash your speed: …Cruise at 60mph rather than 90mph on the motorway and you’ll use roughly 50% less fuel.

Honestly, I’m not making this one up. Not only will you use less fuel but you won’t have the delight of a double flash from a speed camera in your rear-view mirror – and the accompanying sheaf of tickets.

And if I drive at 40 instead of 60, will that cut my fuel bill by a further 50%? What of 20 mph? Hmmm. According to the mathematics, if I drive at 3mph I will only use a teaspoon of fuel to get from one end of the country to the other.

And on and on it goes.

Well, here are my own suggestions how to reduce your petrol bill.

Firstly, get rid of any extra baggage. Don’t take passengers, just politely suggest that they take the bus and you’ll meet them at the other end.

Secondly, if you are at the top of a hill simply switch off your engine and coast down it. (But DO remember that the steering lock will come on and it’s unlikely you’ll make it round the bend at the bottom.)

Next, don’t go visit anybody. Let THEM visit you.

And lastly, sell the car and buy a horse.

Following my list I can guarantee that you will cut fuel consumption by a lot more than the paltry 21% the motoring journalists recommend. There again, my list is about as realistic as theirs.

Drew McAdam


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