FUEL UP: Ken Smith puts fuel in his vehicle at Metro Petroleum in West Ipswich.
FUEL UP: Ken Smith puts fuel in his vehicle at Metro Petroleum in West Ipswich. Rob Williams

Simple ways to reduce fuel usage and save you cash

FINDING petrol retailers that offer the best value for money at the bowser is key to easing the pressure on your hip pocket but there are other ways to save when it comes to filling up.

A few cents here and there might not seem like a lot but it really adds up, particularly as prices continue to rise, so getting the most out of the fuel in your tank is important.

A report released by the RACQ revealed the average daily price for unleaded petrol in Ipswich reached a new record high of 167.2 cents per litre in October of last year.

We asked the RACQ for some tips on how to save fuel and for them to bust a few common motoring myths.

Spokesperson Lucinda Ross was on hand to offer her wisdom.

Can going faster make you use more fuel?

Yes, slowing down will save on fuel whereas hard acceleration and breaking will use more fuel. Try to accelerate gently and look ahead to anticipate the flow of the traffic. Ease off the gas early and allow your car to slow, rather than driving hard and breaking sharply.

If your tyres aren't completely pumped can this make you use more fuel?

Yes, low tyre pressure increases fuel consumption because under-inflated tyres add more rolling resistance. Make sure your tyres are inflated to the maximum manufacturer recommended pressure.

Does having the air con on use more fuel?

That Ipswich heat can be brutal in summer but before you automatically crank that air conditioner up, consider if you actually need it first. You could wind down the windows instead because air con can increase fuel use by up to 10 percent. However, if you're going over 80km/h, it's probably better to use air con as wind resistance will also cause the car to use more fuel.

Does having the radio on use more fuel?

No, in theory any additional electrical load will increase fuel consumption but in the case of a radio it would be so small and would be undetectable.

Does leaving the car running at the red light, rather than turning it on off every time you stop save more fuel?

Don't keep your engine on idle. Switching off the engine will save fuel but there are other considerations and unless the car has a stop/start system, we wouldn't generally recommend it unless you'll be stopped for a while.

If you go up a hill, will it use more fuel?

The short answer is yes - fuel consumption increases as you accelerate up a hill. The more power you require from the engine, the more fuel it will use.

Can you turn the car off when you're going down the hill and coast to save fuel?

Don't turn the car off and coast down the hill - it's dangerous. There is no engine braking and probably no power steering and you'll quickly run out of brake boost, which means the brakes will become very hard to apply. It's called 'angel gear' because if you use it you're one step closer to becoming one.

Does filling up with E10 mean you'll run out of fuel quicker?

Fuel consumption is marginally higher with E10 fuel and that's why we'd recommend you pay four cents per litre less for E10 when compared to regular unleaded. That'll ensure you're getting the best value for money.

If you run your car to just near empty, will that hurt your car?

Probably not immediately, but it could have a cumulative negative effect if you do it regularly. But also, running near empty is never a good idea because your car could run out of fuel mid-trip. We'd suggest refilling when the level gets to one quarter of a tank.

Do you get better fuel economy if your tank's full with fuel, compared with if you just put $10 worth in?

It makes no difference to fuel use, but topping up if you need fuel on expensive days (in capital cities where there are price cycles) will keep you moving while you wait for prices to fall.

Does excess weight or features on the car waste fuel?

Yes, carrying unnecessary weight in your car increases fuel consumption. Before you put on those roof racks, consider how often you'd use them because they'll also increase your fuel consumption slightly with wind resistance.

Does downsizing your car save you dollars on fuel?

Yes, the bigger the car, the more fuel you'll use, so if you don't need that 4WD, downsize and save dollars. If you really want to know how much you could be saving, visit the Green Vehicle Guide - it compares fuel consumption between vehicles.