As a delivery driver, your most common expenditure is going to be fuel. But with most vans powered on diesel and the price per gallon creeping up yet again, it is more important than ever to find ways to use your fuel more efficiently so that you can cut back on costs.
So, we have compiled this handy guide with some van fuel efficiency tips to minimise your expenses. You can thank us later!
Choosing The Right Vehicle
Most light commercial vehicles on sale in the UK are fuelled with diesel as this offers a reliable pulling power which is essential for heavier payloads. It is impractical for delivery drivers to upgrade and change their vehicle every time a more efficient van comes on the market. But if you’re looking for a new van, it will be worthwhile spending a bit of time researching the most fuel-efficient vans available. Let’s face it; you will be on the road a lot and finding the right van might just help you get further per tank while helping you reduce your expenditure, which can make a massive difference in the long run.
There has been a slight shift with Ford, Peugeot, Citroen, Fiat, Vauxhall, Mercedes and Renault, all offering petrol versions of small vans in recent years. But, there is a trade-off of low payload capacity. Depending on the extent and weight of your goods in transit, this could be a good alternative, but this isn’t necessarily a solution for large load delivery drivers.
If you are looking to trim the fat out of your expenditure, it might be time to consider an electric van (EV), with most of the market leaders now offering EV alternatives. If you’re a delivery driver who makes multiple short trips or travels less than 150 miles per day, an electric van could be the answer. These vans are primarily aimed at small multi-drop delivery drivers where the reduced payload due to the extra weight of a battery pack doesn’t impact the van’s usability. While charging is a consideration, providing you have the suitable facilities to be able to do this overnight, you can be confident that your van can get you where you need to go each day.
Keeping your van well maintained with regular servicing will create long term efficiency, both in terms of fuel and projected lifetime of the vehicle. Appropriate maintenance can ensure that you can repair harmful effects of frequent driving on your vehicle, such as soot build-up, which can clog injectors, a common problem in diesel engines that ultimately impacts your vans efficiency. Most newer vans come with service plans, but a quick internet search provides a wide variety of out of hours service and maintenance facilities that help to keep your van on the road and running smoothly.
A critical part of van maintenance that is often overlooked is tyre pressure. Leaving your tyres under-inflated can be dangerous when carrying a heavier load as it can cause the tyres to wear quicker and increase rolling resistance, all factors that will harm your fuel economy. The ideal tyre pressure for your vehicle is often displayed on a sticker within the door frame of your van or in your owner’s manual. It is worth keeping in mind that tyre pressure is usually affected by your payload. To keep your tyres at their optimum pressure, invest in a pressure gauge and pump so you can regularly check your tyres with more accuracy than an air pump at a petrol station.
Plan Your Route
Something as simple as planning your route in advance to avoid traffic black spots and creating a route as direct as possible can make all the difference in fuel consumption. Consider purchasing a sat-nav that gives up-to-date traffic and roadwork information to allow you to save time, fuel and ensure you get to your destination on time.
Use Your Van Features Carefully
Reducing your usage of the air-con and heating in your van can aid in fuel efficiency. So, unless you are uncomfortably cold or warm, try to avoid using them in your van. Overuse of air-con and heating, especially when driving at low speeds, will strain the engine and ultimately burn more fuel. The same applies to demisters, heated windscreens, and other electrical appliances.
If your van is relatively new, it may have a stop-start feature that will shut down the engine while you are stationary. This is a valuable feature to save on your fuel consumption; by putting a manual transmission van in neutral or firmly pressing the brake pedal in an automatic, your engine will cut out. If your van doesn’t have stop-start technology, there is still a way to save money; it is as straightforward as switching off the ignition while you are in traffic or if you are likely to be stationary for more than 20 seconds. While this may seem inconvenient, you’ll start to notice the difference in no time.
Driving styles can significantly affect your fuel consumption. By driving responsibly, you could save yourself fuel and money.
- Be gentle and efficient when changing gears. It is best to shift up in gears as quickly as possible as your engine will hold on to fewer revs the higher the gear gets, and with lower revs comes fuel efficiency.
- When going from downhill to uphill, use gravity to help you gain momentum for the ascent. One way to do this is to evaluate the road conditions and accelerate when needed.
- Adhere to the speed limit. Research from What Car? established that driving at 80mph rather than 70mph can increase fuel consumption by up to 25%.
- Anticipate the road ahead. By keeping an eye on your surroundings, you can be more prepared for potential situations where you will need to use your brake and accelerator. The smoother your actions, the less fuel you will use.
There are many ways that you can help reduce your fuel consumption and save yourself money in the process. Consider making some of these simple changes and watch as a full tank of fuel takes you further. As an added bonus, many of these changes can help reduce our emissions and positively impact the environment. That sounds like a win-win!