Did you know that efficient driving is one of the best ways to save fuel?
Over half the fuel we consume is used for speeding, accelerating and braking. When you start, accelerate, slow or stop your vehicle, you are changing the momentum of several hundred kilos of dead weight. This takes energy. The energy comes from burning fuel. If you minimise rapid changes in speed and direction, you minimise fuel consumption. Sensible driving techniques will not only save you fuel costs — they will also reduce wear and tear on your vehicle’s engine, transmission, brakes and tyres, saving you even more money on running costs. You’ll improve your efficient driving if you: 1 – Take It Easy On The Accelerator More revs equals more fuel use, more emissions, and more wear and tear. Drive at a good distance from the car in front so that you can anticipate speed changes and move smoothly with the flow of traffic. This cut down on the unnecessary acceleration and repetitive braking that ends up wasting fuel. It’s also far safer.
2 – Use Your Gear Sensibly Sensible use of the gearbox is another important fuel efficient driving technique . Driving in a lower gear than is necessary and revving the engine hard wastes fuel. Change up through the gears as soon as practical, though not so quickly that the engine labours.
3 – Look ahead Efficient driving requires you to anticipate changes in the road environment. Scan your intended path constantly. In city driving you should know what’s happening at least 10-15 seconds ahead. On the highway, at least 30 seconds visual lead-time is safer.
4 – Avoid Heavy Breaking Minimize the need to brake by anticipating traffic conditions. Be alert for slow-downs, red lights and brakes being applied ahead of you. When driving, your attention should be as far down the road as possible. This gives you more time to react to changing conditions. Instead of waiting to hit the brakes when the car in front of you does, spot the congestion farther down the road so that you can start slowing down before his brake lights come on. This allows you to coast earlier and further, and to apply your own brakes more gently.
5 – Minimise Idling Minimise fuel wastage while idling by shifting the gear lever to neutral whenever possible. Stop the engine if your car is held up for an extended period, in a tailback or a traffic jam. By having the engine switched off, even for a short period, you’ll save more fuel than is lost from restarting the engine. The net increase in wear and tear from this practice is negligible.
6 – Avoid Peak Hours Stop/start driving is much less efficient and much more polluting than driving at a constant speed. Try not to travel during peak-hours and on congested roads. If you can drive at an earlier or later time, or use an alternative route to avoid heavy traffic, do so. You have more chances to employ efficient driving techniques if you are not boxed in by other vehicles. You may find that a somewhat longer but less congested route will use less fuel than the shorter, busier route.
7 – Maintain The Optimum Speed Speeding can be, by itself, a big fuel waster. Reducing your speed from 70 mph or 112 km/h to 55 mph or 88 km/h can improve your fuel economy by a whopping 25%. Why hurry, anyway? Chances are, the family wagon you overtook ten kilometres back will be right on your tail at the first set of lights. Plus, you might also avoid a speeding ticket!
8 – Use A/C sparingly Running your car’s air conditioner takes energy and therefore burns extra fuel. Try to use A/c sparingly, when you absolutely need it. Most air conditioners have an Economy setting that allows the circulation of un-chilled air. Many also have a Recirculation setting that limits the amount of hot outside air that must be chilled. Both settings can reduce the air conditioning load. If your car does not have A/c, you’ll save fuel by having the windows up and using the ventilation system when travelling over 50 km/h. As we noted above, travelling with the windows down at higher speeds increases the car’s aerodynamic drag.
9 – Keep Your Vehicle Tuned To maximise fuel economy, it’s important to stick to your vehicle’s servicing and maintenance schedule. Servicing a car that’s out of tune can improve its fuel mileage by an average of 4%. Fixing a serious maintenance problem, such as a faulty oxygen sensor, can improve mileage by up to 40%! Proper maintenance of your car will also ensure its longevity and reliability, and keeping it running at least cost.
10 – Maintain Your Tyres Tyres are your vehicle’s most important safety feature — after all, they are your only contact with the road. If your tyres are worn, under-inflated or not suited to the type of road you drive, you put yourself, your vehicle, and other road users at risk. Properly inflated tyres can improve mileage by up to 3.3%. Conversely, under-inflated tyres can lower mileage — by about 0.3% for every 1 psi of under-inflation. Correct inflation improves both tyre longevity and your personal safety.
For more information and get access to a wider fuel efficient driving techniques, get your copy of our comprehensive ebook (The 12 driving rules for fuel efficiency)