‘Dangerous’: Drivers warned of popular air con fuel-saving trick which may be ‘costly’

Fuel: Matt Allwright shares tips on making your car more efficient

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With petrol and diesel prices still hammering drivers, many Britons have turned to fuel-saving techniques to try and make the most of their money. While prices are slowly starting to fall, the average 55-litre tank still costs more than £100 to fill for both average petrol and diesel prices.

In a bid to reduce their costs, millions of drivers have taken to changing their driving habits.

This could be in the way they drive or even how they treat their car, with air conditioning becoming one of the focal points in the struggle to save money.

The RAC says that using air con, especially when driving in warmer weather, can increase a car’s fuel consumption.

It added that drivers should not use the air con unless they “really have to”.

Instead, many experts advocate for drivers to open their windows when driving to get cooler air in the cabin. 

Generally, air con systems take the outside air and then heat or cool it.

This uses much more fuel compared to the lesser-known option of air recirculation. 

When pressed, the button allows the aircon to use the air from inside the car by drawing it through vents.

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The button is usually positioned around the air con dial on most modern cars.

Sarah Tooze, Consumer Editor at CarSite, has warned drivers that overuse of the air con could lead to very expensive problems with the car.

She said: “While there is merit in some of the suggestions, some techniques, such as drafting and coasting, are potentially dangerous for the driver and other road users. 

“Risking an expensive (and potentially fatal) crash in an attempt to save fuel is not worth it.

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“Hypermilers advocate turning off the air-con to conserve fuel. 

“However, while keeping the air-con off for long periods may save a small amount of fuel in the short term, it may cause costly problems down the road. 

“AC systems are designed to operate 100 percent of the time, so the compressor may seize if it is switched off for long periods, or the joints may dry out and allow the gas to escape.”

Keeping the car in a general good condition can also help fuel efficiency.

For example, drivers should ensure their tyres have the correct pressure and are in good condition.

This reduces friction with the road, meaning the engine doesn’t have to work as hard when driving.

The RAC predicts that the prices will continue to fall, with super unleaded also dropping back down below £2 per litre.

Drivers are urged to shop around at supermarket forecourts in their area to try and save the most money that they can.

Some filling stations in Wales are showing prices to be as low as 164.9p per litre, with the highest asking drivers to pay £2.10 for a litre.

Forecourts continue to charge more for diesel with the most expensive UK rate charging 218.9p per litre, while the cheapest is 179.6p per litre.

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