Monday, 29 October 2012

Be safe on the road this winter

Basic maintenance
Engine oil: Use a good quality oil which matches the specifications in your vehicle manual. Check the levels regularly to identify unusually quick usage early, preventing long-term engine problems.
Tyres: Check tyres for worn-out tread, bulges or lacerations. Consult the vehicle manual for the correct tyre pressure and use a reliable gauge to check this. Over-inflated tyres can cause wear around the centre of the tyre, while under-inflation results in wear around the outer edge and poor fuel efficiency.
Servicing: Get the car serviced as regularly as the manufacturer recommends to maintain engine efficiency.

When should I change gear?
“I tend to say that, in a petrol engine, a gear change should be done at 2,000rpm. Diesel cars need to be worked a bit harder, say at 2,500rpm, before moving up a gear.” 

Not sure how to carry out these checks?
Before you set off
Remove excess weight: Unnecessary weight in the boot makes your car work harder and consequently uses more fuel. Remove anything you don’t need for your journey.
Prevent drag: A roof rack or box adds wind resistance, resulting in drag at high speeds on the dual carriageway or the motorway. If the roof rack or box is not being used, take it off.
Leave straight away: Idling wastes fuel – don’t start the engine until you're ready to go.

On the road
Plan for the road ahead: Look at the road ahead, as far as you can see, for any potential or developing hazards and take early action by easing off the gas pedal and braking gently. By slowing down in good time, you’ll lessen wear to your tyres and brakes and conserve fuel.
Easy on the gas: Use of the accelerator pedal, which is very sensitive, should be smooth and gentle. Harsh acceleration
Slow down in gear: Advances in engine and braking technology mean that it is no longer necessary to change down into lower gears to slow down. Release the accelerator in good time to slow down smoothly and prevent unnecessary braking.
Change up gears earlier: Correct manual gear changes when speeding up, rather than labouring in the wrong gear, can have a significant impact on fuel efficiency.
Drive at appropriate speed: Driving faster requires more fuel. In fact, driving at 80mph, apart from being illegal and dangerous, can use as much as 20% more fuel than driving at 70mph. Stick to the limits and considerable fuel savings can be achieved.
Cut unnecessary electricals and air con: Don’t use the fan heater or air conditioning when they’re not needed, as they draw their power from the engine. 

Thanks to Tariq Musaji for this post - Tariq is a member of Colbea's Business Innovation Group, and a Driving Standards Agency-approved driving instructor and managing director of Farrah Driver Training Ltd based in Wickford, Essex.

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