Driving guide for economical driving
The best route to learn about economical driving is to go on an eco-driving course - contact us for details..... but in the meantime........
Firstly, what is economical driving? This is driving
in a way that saves you money and saves the environment.
Cars can be used in a way that optimises engine performance. This means not driving at top speeds and revving
the engine as high as you can whenever you get the opportunity.
The smoother air flows over your car, the more economical it will be. When you are on the motorway or
the open road make sure that you reduce your drag as much as you can by closing the windows, and sunroof. Remove roof racks
and trailers if you don't need them.
Minimise the use of the air conditioner in the car - turn it on for bursts to drop the temperature
in the car until it is comfortable and then turn it off.
Do not overwork your engine. Petrol engines are at their most economical when running between 1500 and
4000rpm and a turbo diesel is at its most economical when running between 1500 and 2500rpm so change gear if your engine revs
Reduce your speed.
You can reduce your petrol consumption and costs by up to 30% by driving at 50mph instead of 70mph.
So try and drive economically as you won't just be
safer and saving money, you will also be doing something towards saving our planet as well.
Most experts agree that an economical driving style typically saves
10-15% on petrol, as well as having added safety and environmental benefits. However with UK petrol prices increasing by a
few pence each week, never has this 10-15% looked as financially attractive as it does now.
Suddenly economical driving is becoming a financial necessity for many people. To not do
so is akin to wasting somewhere between £8-15 of the average fill-up. For drivers using around one tank of petrol per
week this saving could total as much as £750 a year - based on today’s prices (which will surely will seem conservative
in a couple of month’s time).
So what can be done to
make the saving?
We have all heard standard tips such as avoiding
rapid acceleration and braking, in favour of driving more ‘gently’. However there are a few other habits which
I had not realised were so wasteful until now. Here’s a list of useful tips for minimising fuel consumption;
- - Use the right engine oil. For example 0W30 is better than 10W30,
and both are better than 20W30. Be careful though not to overdo it by using an oil that is too ‘thin’ for your
engine - consult your car’s technical manual for a range of acceptable oils.
- - Remove roof racks and unneeded clutter from the boot. The excess weight causes unnecessary fuel waste.
- - Keep tyre pressure up; this is the single biggest factor in achieving a lower rate of fuel
consumption. Under-inflated tyres can be responsible for an extra 10% fuel waste alone.
- - Avoid Idling. Turning the engine off when stationary, even for as little as 30 seconds will make a noticeable
difference to consumption levels.
- - 50mph is the most efficient speed
to drive at. On motorways avoid exceeding 70mph as the efficiency levels drop off drastically as speed increases. Driving
at 90mph for example uses 48% more fuel than 50mph, and 35% more than 70.
Buy an economiser - ask at your local garage or dealership for more info. They are a great way to monitor consumption.
- If you think £1.15 (today’s current average UK price) is bad for a litre of petrol,
then consider this: By not driving economically you actually are paying roughly £1.30 for every litre’s worth of driving, taking into account the
10-15% that goes to waste. £1.15 is quite high enough, and a regular tyre check and abstaining from rapid breaking/accelerating
are well worth the effort in the long run…
Real ways to save fuel
are lots of simple tips to save on fuel that cost little or nothing! Follow these ideas and a 10 - 15% fuel saving is almost
- Slow down - boring but true. Above about 50 mph (80 kph), driving 10% faster will use between 10
and 20% more fuel, because air resistance is so much higher. Ask yourself if the time you save is worth the extra cost
- Close windows and sunroof and take off the roof rack
- reduces air resistance
- Keep the air conditioning switched
off unless you need it because the weather is hot or muggy (but do run it at least once a month, even in winter,
or the compressor may fail).
- (Around town, the most economical way
to cool your car is by opening the windows. Driving at high speed, it's actually better to keep the windows closed but
turn on the air conditioning).
- Clear out the junk
- carrying excess weight wastes fuel, so see if you really need to be carrying all that heavy stuff round with you
- Anticipate - instead of accelerating madly and then having to brake
hard for junctions or traffic jams, try and anticipate the hold-up and moderate your speed so you don't need to brake
so much. Braking is just throwing energy away!
tyre pressures up - sticking to the recommended pressure will save fuel and also give better handling. (tyre companies reckon if your tyres are 20% under-inflated you use up to 10% more fuel!) You can get "low
rolling resistance" tyres, but the extra cost may not be justified by the fuel you save
- Use a high gear - engines are more efficient at low speed than high
speed, because so much power is wasted just moving the parts of the engine. As long as the engine isn't labouring (at
a rough guide, don't go below 1500 rpm), then change up
your car regularly - not so critical on modern cars (fuel and ignition don't go out of adjustment in the same way), but
worthwhile even so. (It's not just the engine - for example, if the brakes are binding slightly on, this can cause a big
increase in fuel usage due to the increased friction.)
the right oil – you could be sceptical about the various wonder additives you may see advertised, but you can see a small but significant improvement by using lower viscosity oil. 0W30
is better than 10W40, which in turn is better than 20W50. But don't use an oil that is too "thin"
for your engine (consult the owner's manual), or you may cause damage!
- Many people have reported benefits from using cruise control, though there is no obvious theoretical
reason why it should help - perhaps the key is that it avoids you "drifting" up to a higher speed.
And, of course, ask yourself if the car is really the best way to make your journey.
For trips less than a mile or so you may well be better off walking; up to a couple of miles cycling may be best. In a busy
town or city it can often be quicker to walk than drive a short distance, and cars are at their least economical on short
journeys. (If you must make short journeys, try and group them together so the car doesn't have a chance to get cold in
For certain trips (especially into and out
of large city centres), public transport (buses and trains) may be the best option. But although you might
find that nearly always find the car the best and most convenient way to get about, but sometimes the train or the bus is
quicker or easier, and quite possibly cheaper too. It is possible to leave the car at home!