Fuel consumption and other things to consider when buying a van
Tips for saving fuel when driving a van
There are several ways in which you can reduce fuel consumption when driving a van or other vehicle. These include:
- planning ahead - choose uncongested routes and combine trips
- avoiding cold starts - drive off as soon as possible after starting the engine
- driving smoothly and efficiently - avoid harsh acceleration and heavy braking, which can significantly increase fuel consumption
- slowing down - driving at high speeds burns more fuel
- using higher gears, as soon as traffic conditions allow
- switching the engine off when you're stationary in traffic, provided it is safe to do so
- avoiding carrying unnecessary weight - eg by removing roof racks when not in use
- servicing your vehicle regularly, so that the engine runs at peak efficiency
- making sure the tyres are inflated to the correct pressure for the vehicle and load carried
- keeping an eye on your fuel consumption, and look out for any changes in overall fuel consumption that may indicate a fault with your vehicle
- using air-conditioning sparingly - these systems increase fuel consumption significantly
You could consider offering training to your drivers to help them drive in a more fuel-efficient way. There are many courses available, including the Safe and Fuel Efficient Drivers (SAFED) for Vans scheme. This has been developed with the Department for Transport.
SAFED for Vans is designed to help anyone who drives a van as part of their job to improve their safe and fuel-efficient driving techniques. It is a one-day off-the-job training course that combines classroom and on-the-road tuition. Drivers who complete the course successfully are awarded a certificate of achievement. The course also aims to help drivers reduce the risk of accidents, and help them understand how to read the traffic and road conditions ahead while driving smoothly, safely and economically.
Driver training is also available from a variety of organisations such as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) and the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM).
An effective vehicle maintenance programme can go a long way towards improving and maintaining your van's fuel efficiency.
For example, tyres that are under-inflated by 20 per cent - equivalent to 10 pounds per square inch for most van tyres - can increase fuel consumption by up to 3 per cent. This can also reduce their expected lifespan by as much as a quarter. Over a year, this could add up to about £250 in extra fuel and tyre costs.
Make sure that you change your van's engine and gearbox oil at regular intervals. If you don't, this could have a negative effect on the engine's performance. It could also increase its fuel consumption, and risk serious engine damage.
Air filters blocked by dust in summer, or road grime in winter, can increase fuel consumption by up to 5 per cent. This is because the engine has to work harder to draw air in. Blocked filters can also increase the emission levels of air pollutants from the engine.
Fitting a speed limiter to your van can be an effective fuel-saving measure. Restricting your speed to 60 miles per hour (mph) on the motorway can use up to 20 per cent less fuel. Even reducing your speed to just 5mph below the 70mph limit can reduce your fuel consumption by 10 per cent.
The reduction in vehicle speed won't make a significant difference to your journey times, but can bring major benefits in reducing your fuel costs.
Satellite navigation systems (satnavs), telematics and tracking devices
Satnavs can save you fuel and time by taking you on the best route to your destination. Some of the more advanced systems will even route you around congestion hot spots.
You can avoid distractions while driving by programming your route before you set off, and positioning the satnav so it doesn't obscure your view of the road.
Telematics and tracking systems can help you monitor the performance of your fleet. They allow you to check the routes being used by your drivers, the mileage they cover and the speeds they travel at. Tracking devices can also help recover your van if it is stolen.
Subjects covered in this guide
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