Driving well isn’t difficult and it offers several important benefits:
- Reduced fuel consumption – often as much as 5% – 10%
- Reduced wear and tear
- Reduced driver stress and safer progress
Unfortunately, good driving techniques aren’t well understood and are often not known or forgotten about by most drivers.
To help you reduce fuel consumption and wear and tear, we’ve put together 7 essential tips for better driving. Follow these and your car (and your bank manager) will thank you:
Avoid short journeys – fuel consumption can double in a cold engine and modern engines (especially diesels) take 5-10 miles to fully warm up.
Check your tyre pressures regularly – incorrect tyre pressures cause increased fuel consumption, increased tyre wear and can affect a car’s handling and stability.
According to the RAC, under inflated tyres can increase fuel consumption by up to 3%.
Don’t idle unnecessarily – don’t idle engines to warm them on cold mornings. Modern engines are designed to be driven (gently) straight from cold. Idling when cold wastes fuel and increases engine wear.
If you are likely to be stationary in traffic for more than two minutes, switch off the engine (assuming it’s safe to do so). You are burning money…
Use gears correctly – accelerate steadily to your chosen cruising speed without excessive revving and then change into the highest gear possible. You can skip gears to do this – you don’t have to go through every gear.
When braking, remember this: “Gear to go, Brake to slow“. Don’t change down through all the gears when braking. Use the brakes to get to your chosen speed and then select an appropriate gear. This is how modern vehicles are designed to be used.
Look ahead and reduce stop/start driving – stopping and starting a lot wastes fuel, is stressful and tiring for you, and increases wear on your car.
You can eliminate a lot of stop/start driving in traffic by looking further ahead and keeping a larger gap between you and the vehicles in front, especially on main roads.
Brake lights ahead? Ease off the accelerator and let the car slow. By the time you need to brake the car ahead will probably have sped up again and you will have avoided touching the brakes.
Remove unnecessary weight & accessories – bike racks, roof racks and other accessories all reduce the aerodynamic efficiency of your car and increase fuel consumption. Remove them when they aren’t in use.
Similarly, extra weight means extra fuel consumption. Don’t keep your boot full of junk that isn’t needed – just carry what you need.
Use engine braking when going downhill – don’t ever idle downhill in neutral. This causes unnecessary wear to your brakes and wastes fuel through idling.
Instead, change to a lower gear and take your foot off the accelerator. Brake in short, firm bursts to help control your speed – don’t keep your foot lightly on the brake the whole time.
Using this approach helps to control your speed with less brake wear and uses no fuel – modern cars cut off the engine’s fuel supply when they sense it isn’t needed.