7 steps to enhancing your car’s performance

Carlton Boyce / 07 July 2016

Make your car cheaper to run and safer with seven simple tips to optimise your car's performance.



Make your car cheaper to run with seven simple tips to optimise your car's performance.

1. Clean it out

The first thing you can do is to try and reduce your car’s weight as much as possible by clearing it of any clutter. 

Gym bags, sports equipment, text books, and unnecessary tools might not weigh much individually but the cumulative effect adds up very quickly and will affect your car’s fuel efficiency. 

This means that you’ll need to burn more fuel to get the same level of performance.

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2. Check your tyre pressures

The next stage is to check your tyre pressures. Tyres that are correctly inflated have better grip and a lower rolling resistance than under-inflated tyres. This not only improves your vehicle’s performance but also makes it more efficient and safer.

Use the Tyre Safe website to find your car’s correct tyre pressure and check every week to ensure they’re always at the optimum pressure. 

It’s also worth buying your own tyre pressure gauge as the ones on a petrol station forecourt are notoriously inaccurate. A decent digital tyre pressure gauge from Halfords costs less than a tenner.

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3. Think about your tyres

Some tyres are optimised for performance and some for fuel economy, so when it’s time to change you could think about what’s most important to you. 

All tyres are now graded according to various parameters and if fuel economy is important to you, you should pay attention to the ‘Fuel Efficiency’ section of the information label. The scale goes from A through to G, with A being the best.

Blackcircles.com lists a wide range of car tyres and you can have them delivered to a local garage, who will fit them for you.

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4. Do you need the air-conditioning on?

Using your car’s air-conditioning will raise your car’s fuel consumption by as much as 8%. 

Of course, if it’s hot it’s better to use the air-con than it is to lower the windows to let in a breeze, but most of us just let it run in the background even when we don’t really need it.

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5. Roof bars and roof boxes

I regularly use roof cars on my car to carry a canoe, and laziness means that I often leave them (and the canoe…) on the roof for days or even weeks at a time. This is hugely wasteful as the extra drag will dramatically raise your car’s fuel consumption.

If you must keep a roofbox on permanenetly, then the latest generation of aerodynamic bars and boxes will help minimise the cost. 

Autoexpress tested a Thule roofbox and found that it only dropped the fuel consumption by 0.2mpg. However, the testing was done at a relatively low speed and the effect at motorway speeds would probably be greater. (As a car’s speed doubles the aerodynamic drag on it  increases fourfold.) 

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None of these measures will make a significant difference in isolation but the cumulative effect is nonetheless worthwhile.

However, the final two tips are the ones that will contribute the biggest savings. One will cost you money, but the final one – the one that could save you a third or more off your fuel bill – is completely and utterly free!

6. Keep it serviced

Your car will run at its best when it is running to factory specification. Having your car regularly serviced will do this but there is no need to pay the extra expense of having your car’s main dealer carry it out.

If your car is under warranty, then using the main dealer might make sense (although it isn’t a requirement) but for everyone else a trusted local garage will do it just as well.

Of course, you might want to do it yourself, in which case you can order parts online using someone like Autosessive.

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7. Drive it with economy in mind

Finally, the best way to improve the performance and efficiency of any vehicle is to drive with economy in mind.

As an example, looking further ahead will help you spot problems early, giving you the opportunity to ease to a halt rather than going through the cycle of accelerating and then braking constantly.

You can also practise maintaining a less-than-constant speed on the motorway; modern cruise control systems will regulate the speed with great accuracy but you might be better turning it off and doing it yourself. Simply letting your car build up speed gently on the downhill sections before allowing some of it to bleed off on the uphill stretch will improve your car’s fuel.

Also, dropping your cruising speed by 10mph will make a huge difference to your fuel costs and won’t add that much time to your journey. As an example, a journey of 100 miles driven at 70mph will take you 86 minutes, while driving at 60mph would only add 14 minutes to that time and you will use 10% less fuel. 

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This article was written in association with Autosessive, a leading retailer of car parts and accessories.


For more tips and useful information, browse our motoring articles.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.