Let’s face it, fuel is the last thing you want to spend more money on. If you want to save a few dollars and make your tank go further, a couple of tweaks to your driving can make all the difference. We asked motoring professional Iccy Harrington, who has over 24 years in the automotive industry, to share his top 10 tips for increasing fuel efficiency.

Fuel Efficiency Tip #1: Drive smoothly

Don’t be a lead foot. Make sure you accelerate gradually from a standstill, not only is a smooth drive a comfortable drive, but it also has the greatest effect on overall fuel economy.

Fuel Efficiency Tip #2: Service your vehicle regularly

Servicing your SUV at the intervals specified by the manufacturer will ensure that it is operating as smoothly and efficiently as possible. So next time you put off getting your car serviced, consider how much money you could be pouring down the gurgler in fuel wastage.  

Nissan technician servicing engine

Fuel Efficiency Tip #3: Check your tyres

Imagine trying to roll a flat tyre up a hill – chances are you’d be pretty exhausted. Deflated tyres increase rolling resistance and cause your engine to work harder. Simply put, more work for your engine means more work for your wallet. Avoid this by regularly checking your tyres and making sure they’re inflated to the highest pressure as recommended by the manufacturer.  

Nissan technician servicing tyres

Fuel Efficiency Tip #4: Lighten the load

SUVs do a great job of miraculously accumulating junk. But when it comes to fuel efficiency, the lighter the vehicle the better. To shed some excess weight, do a quick scan of the back seats and boot for any unnecessary items. Who knows? You may even find that thing you thought you'd lost.

Fuel Efficiency Tip #5: Keep the windows up

When you drive with the windows down, air flows into the car instead of rolling over it. This form of resistance is called ‘drag’, and it forces your SUV to work that little bit harder and drink a little bit more fuel. Steer away from this by keeping the windows rolled up next time you’re cruising down the freeway. Additional parts on the exterior of a vehicle such as roof racks and bike racks also create drag, so if you can, take these off when not in use.

Fuel Efficiency Tip #6: Turn off the air-con

There’s no denying that your cars’ air-con is your best friend on a hot day. And without suggesting you suffer through summer with the air-con turned off, it’s worth remembering that it does draw power from the engine, so save fuel and money by keeping the air-con use to a minimum.  

Fuel Efficiency Tip #7: Plan ahead

Ever heard the saying ‘Time is money?’. It may be obvious, but the less time you’re on the road, the less fuel you’ll need to consume, so it makes sense to try and combine multiple errands into one trip. Another way to save time is by mapping out your journey before you hit the road. Check the traffic reports to avoid unnecessary congestion and where possible detour around urban areas chock-a-block with traffic lights.  

Woman driving Nissan QASHQAI in urban environment

Fuel Efficiency Tip #8: Be a weather watcher

Find it more difficult to drive in bad weather? Well, so does your car. Heavy wind and rain increase resistance, meaning your SUV’s engine needs to work extra hard to maintain speed – chewing through fuel in the process. Before you head out, check the weather report to see when the weather is worst and try and plan your trip around it.  

Fuel Efficiency Tip #9: Use higher gears earlier

If you’re driving a manual transmission, avoid excessively revving your engine and shift into higher gears earlier (but without accelerating harder than necessary).  

Fuel Efficiency Tip #10: Use economy mode

If your car’s transmission has power and economy modes, use the economy mode to ensure the transmission up-shifts earlier.

There you have it. Ten simple ways to help you save fuel (and funds). While they may seem small in isolation, together these techniques can have a huge impact on your long-term fuel consumption. The above tips also help reduce wear and tear on your SUV’s brakes, tyres and the other mechanical parts, saving on running costs too. So the next time you head out for a drive, see how many of these tips you can put into action.