Fuel efficiency when driving is largely down to the car you’ve got. An older car will use more petrol or diesel than a newer car with a modern engine. Similarly, a car with a small engine – 1 to 1.4 litres – will use less fuel than a gas-guzzling four-by-four. But with petrol and diesel prices at an all-time high, there’s no better moment to consider how you can save money through your driving technique.
Indeed, you can save hundreds of pounds per year by driving more fuel efficiently and these techniques are simple and safe.
Keep it smooth and gentle
A smooth drive is one of the ways to save money when driving. Braking harshly can impact your fuel efficiency so read the road ahead and prepare to slow down for corners and junctions gradually. Therefore, try to avoid harsh braking, decelerating smoothly as you approach a corner, junction or vehicle.
Tests have shown that harsh starts and hard braking can increase fuel consumption by as much as 40%. Believe it or not, harsh, fast acceleration will only decrease your travel time marginally, if not noticeably at all, while your toxic emissions are five times higher!
Low revs as you accelerate
Accelerating too quickly in a low gear uses more fuel than accelerating slowly. Move to your second gear when you feel you have enough acceleration to do so safely (evidence suggests for petrol cars an engine speed of 2,500 rpm is ideal while for diesel cars look for around 2,000 rpm). Don’t stay in first gear for too long as you’ll use more fuel and it’ll cost you more in the long run.
Roll don’t stop-start
When approaching traffic lights or traffic, consider our “smooth and gentle” advice to decelerate gradually then, instead of stopping and starting, consider the traffic ahead and try to keep pace slow and steadily. Rolling instead of stopping and starting uses less fuel. Slow early when approaching a queue or traffic lights and you might not have to stop at all. This will add to your ability to save money when driving.
Do you need to use air conditioning
Don’t use your air conditioning when driving at low speeds around towns and cities. Open a window instead. The air conditioning system increases fuel consumption so those who use it during the warmer months will find themselves needing to fill up at the pump more often. Cutting out or reducing your use of the car’s air conditioning system will reduce you fuel consumption and save you money.
Drive a bit slower
If you’re on the motorway, stick to the speed limit. Driving at 80mph can use up to 25% more fuel than at 70mph.
Don’t carry unnecessary weight
More weight in the car equals more fuel consumption. Cut out some weight by checking your boot – is there anything in there that doesn’t absolutely have to be? Losing 45kg (100 pounds) in weight could improve your fuel economy by 2%.
It’s time to be idle
It sounds counter intuitive but most modern cars have functionality that switches the engine off when stationary. For older car uses, the advice is not to start switching your car engine off manually at traffic lights. But, if you’re in a motorway traffic jam that looks like it’s not moving for at least 30 seconds, switching your engine off during this time saves fuel.