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Driving down fuel costs

THERE'S no need to make big changes to your driving style to make your small car even more frugal. Iain Dooley offers some simple advice...

YOU'VE bought your small car, you're pleased with your small insurance quote and wouldn't mind if its fuel consumption could be kept to a small amount.

Don't worry, help is at hand. And it'll only take a small effort on your part.

We might not be able to influence the price of fuel, but we can do plenty to keep more of it in the tank after each journey.

With just a few minor adjustments to your driving style, the money saved buying a small car doesn't have to be wasted at the filling station.

Firstly, you should turn your attention to your tyres as, left unchecked, the pressures could be woefully low. Inflating them to the specified level improves your car's rolling resistance.

Ditching any unused exterior appendage (roof rack to you and me) will also cut down on drag and liberate a few extra mpg.

In the long run, regular servicing will help to keep all the moving parts in top condition. Such efficiency savings won't just improve fuel economy but also your bank balance.

It pays to travel light even when on a long trip. Too much stuff in the car will weigh it down and you will end up using too much throttle for even the shallowest of gradients.

And before you set off on your holidays, try to plan ahead. Getting lost might seem like an adventure but the fuel gauge will tell a different story once you're back on the right route.

When you are out and about, pay close attention to your driving style.

Jerky actions, poor anticipation and short trips to the corner shop will all help to put a dent in your fuel economy.

Learn to be smooth with the throttle and brake, try not to slip the clutch excessively and leave the car at home once in a while when nipping to the local newsagents.

With small-engined cars, in particular where power may be at a premium, the temptation is to floor the accelerator and brake alternately.

Feeding power in smoothly and decelerating gradually is far more efficient.

And don't forget to stick to speed limits if you really want to save the pennies - not just to avoid speeding fines, but to avoid burning too much fuel.

We are all in agreement that the ability to stop safely is essential just before you crash is usually a good time but why bother if you don't have to? We're not talking high speeds, but just on the approach to roundabouts and quiet junctions.

Starting from rest requires a lot of energy and fuel. If you can safely anticipate what's happening ahead of you, the need to stop at roundabouts should quickly diminish.

Of course, only do this if it's safe, though with a bit of practice you'll soon learn to judge the speed of traffic and eliminate wide variations in your speed.

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