Shell Guide to Good Mileage

The Shell Guide to Good Mileage was published in 1979, offering advice from Shell experts on how to get more miles to the gallon. It was freely available from most Shell stations in the UK, and this web page reproduces, with permission, the original illustrations and text. Although some of the recommendations may no longer be quite so necessary, most of the information remains good practice for energy efficient motoring.
Shell had used the phrase "Good Mileage" since the 1960s, when there were a memorable series of TV ads featuring two Hillman Hunters crossing Morecambe Bay. The one using Good Mileage Shell crossed the sands safely, but the one using ordinary petrol fell to the incoming tide!

Cover of the Shell Guide to Good Mileage

3. Don't Idle.
Warm up the engine as you drive away and get the choke in as soon as possible. Don't blip the throttle.
If you are going to be held up at a crossing, or anywhere, for more than the briefest period, save petrol by switching the engine off. Remember you may lose power on servo brakes
Good Mileage - 3

Fuel-saving driving skills that are free
Behind the wheel is where petrol is really saved or wasted. Good driving tactics could easily earn you an extra 10 miles per gallon.

4. Dump the unnecessary.

Good Mileage - 4 Unused roof-racks, unnecessary cargo in the boot; all cause you to forfeit mileage. Carry your roof-rack only when you need it. Don't burden the car with extra weight.
1. Drive light-footed.
5. Drive smoothly.
High speeds and 'Grand Prix' getaways from lights are certain ways to burn up fuel. You don't have to creep along but take it easy. Drive as though you had an egg under your foot (a good driver could really do it!). Good Mileage - 1 Use the gears to avoid revving or labouring the engine. The highest gear you can use is the most economical. Corner gently and maintain speed on the lightest possible throttle opening. Take advantage of down-gradients by easing back on the throttle, but never coast with the car out of gear.
Good Mileage - 6

2. Anticipate.

Always drive 'ahead'. Ease off the throttle early. Don't race up to roundabouts and then have to brake sharply. Read the road. Let your speed drop naturally and reduce your need for braking to the minimum.

Good Mileage  - 2

6. Maintain correct tyre pressures.
Besides being potentially dangerous, under-inflated tyres increase rolling resistance. Keep inflated to recommended pressures. Need new tyres? Radials give more mpg.

7. Plan your journey.

First, is it necessary? Is it short enough to walk and use no petrol? Can you take a friend? Could a friend take you? Good mileage - 7
If you have several places to go make one round trip, not separate journeys. Drive outside rush hours. Leave early and avoid the need to hurry.

Good mileage - 21 Good Mileage - 10

Fuel-saving maintenance you can do at low cost.

8. Look after plugs.
Check your plugs. Have they got the right gap? Replace if they have done over 10,000 miles.
                    Good mileage - 8
9. Timing.
Incorrectly timed ignition, especially too retarded, can eat up petrol. Have it checked. Check too: contact breaker setting, condition of points, distributor cap and rotor arm.

Good Mileage - 9

10. Air filter.
A dirty air filter has the same effect as running with the choke partly out, and so wastes petrol. Check your filter element. If it looks dirty, the small cost of a new one is quickly repaid.

11. Carburettor adjustment.
Make sure the idle speed is no higher than need be and the mixture (if adjustable) is set for the smoothest tick-over.

12. Change your oil.
Good mileage - 12
Don't leave the oil in your engine after the specified change time. Used for too long, oil thickens up and begins to waste petrol.

13. Coolant Temperature.
Is your engine running too cold? If so, it wastes fuel. Check thermostats.

Good mileage - 13

14. What's happening in your carburettor?

15. Check brakes, wheels, steering.
Check all three. Wheels out of alignment, steering incorrectly toed in or out wears tyres and wastes petrol. Dragging brakes eat fuel.

16. Gearbox lubricant OK?
Be sure that your gearbox and differential are filled to the correct level with the right lubricants. But don't overfill - it consumes extra power.

Good mileage - 17

17. Battery matters.
Inspect your battery weekly and top-up if necessary with distilled water. Remove any white crystals on the terminals and smear with petroleum jelly. See that the earth connection is clean and attached tightly.

18. Have your car serviced regularly.
Regular servicing pays mpg dividends as well as keeping your car safer to drive.
Good mileage - 18

A warning sign that all may not be well in your carburettor is a black colour on the inside of the exhaust pipe after a long run. If there is, have an expert look at you carburettor. There are several kinds of defect that could be costing mileage: Good mileage  - 14
  • Incorrect level in float chamber
  • Wear on the float needle and jet
  • Choke not fully released in the 'off' position
  • Piston or hydraulic damper sticking
  • Split or perished air valve diaphragm

Good mileage - 15

A few words from Cecil Mitchell, Shell's technical expert on petrol economy:

Good mileage - 22

Our advice on how to get more miles to the gallon may seem obvious to expert and enthusiastic motorists.
For may of you, however, motoring is a basic transprt rather than a a job or a hobby, and you may find the 18 points for petrol saving a formidable list to absorb.
Perhaps therefore, I should summarise them under just three key headings.

  1. Leave early on your journeys. Relax behind the wheel instead of hurrying. No need for heavy feet and hands on the controls.
  2. Avoid short journeys wherever possible. Mile for mile they are petrol gulpers, especially from a cold start. Plan round trips.
  3. Spoil that car to spare those gallons. Don't burden it with unwanted boot cargo or roof-rack. Give it full regular servicing. If it's down on mpg compared to similar models, treat it to a diagnostic tune-up.

Good mileage!

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Text and images © Shell UK Ltd, 1979; HTML Realisation & layout © Ian Byrne, 2000