Fuel budgeting tips

Make sure the vehicle is in tip-top running order 

If you drive an older car that hasn't been serviced for a few years, now might be the time to get it booked in to ensure it is running as efficiently as it possibly can be. 

Sticking brakes, ageing tyres, faulty sensors, old oil and general poor engine maintenance are just some of the factors that could hit your car's optimum miles per gallon (mpg) performance. 

Check tyre pressures

One of the easiest fixes to ensure your vehicle is running at peak efficiency is to regularly check that the tyres are inflated to the correct level. 

Underinflated tyres are estimated to impact a car's fuel consumption by up to 10 per cent. 

Check the car's owner's manual to find out what the optimum pressures are. Most models also have the tyre pressure info detailed on a sticker on the driver's door sill - while modern cars might also display the pressure in the instrument cluster, or alert you to pressure that is incorrect. 

If your car has an 'eco' mode, use it

Many modern motors are now fitted with adjustable driving modes. 

If yours does, it likely has an 'eco' setting. Using these mode will restrict how quickly the car accelerates. 

Slower and smoothers acceleration will but will help reduce fuel consumption. 

If your car doesn't have an eco setting you can use a free fuel-efficiency app

If you have a car that doesn't have adjustable driving modes, try to replicate what it does with your right foot. This means taking it easy on the throttle pedal when you can.

Excessive speed is the biggest fuel-guzzling factor so having a light right foot and ensuring all acceleration is gentle is very important to fuel-efficient driving.

When you set off from a standstill, such as at traffic lights and junctions, try not to react like you're on the starting grid at Silverstone.

If you want some additional help to make you drive more economically, there is a new free app that could be of assistance.

Karai by Drive Key can be downloaded to your smartphone and claims to be able to reduce you fuel usage - and carbon footprint - by up to a quarter. 

It measures your driving in real time with location tracking and provides a motorists with a real-world, eco-driving scores and advice to improve this to get more out of the fuel in their tank.

Users have the choice of allowing the app to run in the background to track your driving automatically - though if you'd prefer to activate it manually you can start it at the beginning of a journey (granted you do this before you set off and don't break the law by touching your phone on the move). 

Like a fitness tracker for your driving, it promotes adjusting driving habits accordingly, and ultimately saving money through a more efficient driving style. 

For instance, the smoother you accelerate, the more carbon emissions and fuel saved, the better the score will be. 

Rated out of 100, drivers can then see where to improve and therefore save money.

Stick to the limit while using the highest gear possible

It might sound pretty obvious to say, but going faster does result in higher fuel consumption. 

Drive at 70mph and you’ll use up to 9 per cent more than at 60mph and up to 15 per cent more than at 50mph, says the AA. And taking it up to 80mph can use up to 25 per cent more fuel than at 70mph, so it's recommended you drive at an appropriate speed based on the limit. 

The RAC adds that one of the biggest secret to achieving high mpg is driving in the highest possible gear for your vehicle while keeping within the speed limit. 

'The best advice in urban areas is to change up through the gears as quickly as you can with the lowest revs possible, probably at around 2000rpm,' it says. 

Most modern cars also come with a gear shift indicator in the instrument cluster. These are often tuned for the most economical driving rather than outright performance, so if you see an upward arrow and a number representing the next year higher you should shift straight away. 

Anticipate well ahead to preserve fuel when braking

Heavy acceleration will sap fuel economy, but braking too heavily also has the same impact, as you can use less fuel by coming to a standstill more gradually.

This requires a driver to anticipate traffic flow ahead, but is a great way of limiting fuel use.   

Cruise control isn't your friend if you want to save fuel 

While many will believe that using cruise control functionality will provide the lowest fuel use, this isn't always the case.

Cruise control is most likely to benefit mpg on motorways with a constant speed and a flat surface.

However, if you were to use your cruise control regularly and not on flat roads, you would see fuel consumption increase.

'This is because your cruise control would be slower to react to gradient changes, meaning when reaching the brow of a hill – at which point you would normally take your foot off the accelerator to maintain more of a constant speed when descending – your cruise control will keep the power on for a little longer as it's unable to see the gradient change in front of you. 

'Driving in this way regularly would lead to worse fuel consumption,' says the RAC. 

Don't use your air conditioning unless you really have to as it uses engine power and therefore increases fuel consumption.

Avoid using the air-con and heater

Don't use your air conditioning unless you really have to as it uses engine power and therefore increases fuel consumption by as much as 10 per cent on shorter journeys.

This shouldn't be an issue during the cooler months, though using a car's heater will have a similar impact, with it running off the engine power and therefore lowering fuel economy.

Dress accordingly for the weather, is the best advice.

A warm engine is more efficient, so run multiple errands in a single journey

Once an engine is warm it will operate most efficiently, whereas several cold starts will increase your fuel consumption.

So if you have a number of errands to run or trips to do in a day, try to combine them into one car journey so you avoid turning the ignition on your fuel costs.

There is also a climate benefit at this time of year. 

The AA says that warmer temperatures should improve mpg 'significantly' with an extra three miles to the gallon 'almost guaranteed for most' in the summer. 

Lighten your car's load

While this isn't going to make the biggest difference to your mpg figures, emptying heavy clutter from your car will fractionally improve its fuel economy.

This is especially the case at this time of year when families are preparing for their summer holidays by installing roof boxes for additional luggage space. 

However, if you're not using the roof box or roof bars, take them off as it could make your motor less drag efficient.  

According to the Energy Saving Trust, an empty roof rack adds 16 per cent drag when driving at 75mph. At the same speed a roof box adds 39 per cent, making your vehicle much less fuel efficient.

Driving with a window fully open also has a similar effect.