At the time of writing, the price of fuel has reached record levels. With unleaded petrol averaging £1.45 a litre, and diesel an eye watering £1.49, filling the tank of your van is a painful experience. But what can you do to reduce fuel consumption? Here, we look at the top 10 tips to improve the MPG of your van and to lower those bills.
Lessen The Load
You’ll be familiar with the fact that if you’re carrying a heavy load your van doesn’t perform as well on the road. Those long inclines are harder work and you’ll find yourself putting your foot down, or changing down a gear to keep the speed up. This all uses additional fuel. But, when you think your van is empty, is it really?
Take a long hard look in the back. Are there some old materials in there that you rarely need, that you carry ‘just in case’? Perhaps there’s a load of rubbish that you keep meaning to take to the tip. Carrying this around is wasting precious fuel. Keep the van as light as possible – you might not notice much difference on the road, but you’ll definitely be saving diesel. Another tip is to keep your fuel tank level reasonably low, rather than topped up all the time. Diesel is heavy, with 70 litres coming in at over 57kgs.
Keep The Roof Tidy
You might have some ladder bars or a roof rack on your van. It’s amazing just how much fuel is used pushing these things through the air. If you’ve inherited a van with a rack already fitted and you don’t use it, take it off. If you do need a roof rack, keep it clear of loads as much as possible. Maybe you rarely need to use your ladders but the roof of the van is a handy place to store them. Find somewhere secure at home or work to keep them, the savings in fuel can be considerable.
Pump Up Those Tyres
We’re probably supposed to check our tyre pressures monthly, or even weekly. But how many of us do? Often, the only attention they get is if we find ourselves with a puncture. Low tyre pressures create heat and friction with the tread and sidewalls flexing. One survey suggested that you use an additional 3% fuel for every 10% your tyres are under-inflated. Not only that, tyres with insufficient pressure lead to poor handling of the vehicle with the potential for loss of control and accidents.
Keep Up With Servicing
A correctly maintained van will run more efficiently than one which is neglected. A blocked air filter will result in poor performance and higher fuel consumption. A brake which is binding slightly can have a dramatic effect on your MPG. Don’t forget, if your van is under warranty or subject to a lease agreement, it’s important to keep your service history up to date. If it belongs to you it’ll also help you prove to a second owner or, to a dealer when part exchanging for a new vehicle that you’ve looked after it, enhancing its value.
Knock off the aircon
Many of us leave the air conditioning switched on all year round, overriding it when necessary with the heater. Try and get into the habit of turning it off when you don’t need it, it can be quite a drain on fuel when in operation.
Close the window
All that buffeting you get in the cab when you have the window open, even slightly, doesn’t come for free and fuel is burnt to generate it. If you don’t need the window open, close it.
Don’t need it?
Disconnect that trailer whenever possible. You’re pulling weight that isn’t required and that fuel gauge will drop more quickly as a result.
Probably the single, most effective way of lowering your fuel bill is to reduce the mileage you drive, and to avoid time consuming and costly congestion. Plan your routes carefully using real time data such as that offered by Google Maps. If you have a more recent van which has smartphone integration, you can navigate with this app running, and it will constantly look out for incidents and jams, rerouting you the most efficient way possible. If you are on a multi-drop journey, it’s worth using an app to check which is the most efficient sequence of deliveries, saving you time and money.
Shop Around – To A Point
We all know that supermarket fuel is usually cheaper than other outlets but, don’t go too far out of your way just to save 3 or 4 pence per litre. You’ll use much more than that if you make a long detour to take advantage.
Drive as if you have a bowl of water on the passenger seat.
Anticipation is the name of the game. Every time you apply the brakes, energy that you’ve paid for in fuel is being lost in heat generated by the brake pads and discs. Don’t rev the engine unnecessarily when accelerating, just move gently through the gears, keeping the engine speed to a reasonable level, but without labouring it by being in too high a gear.
So, there you go. Even adopting just 2 or 3 of these tips can make your van go significantly further on every litre you put into the tank. And, don’t forget, if you want to update to one of the new, more modern, fuel efficient vans on the market, check out the latest van lease deals