Ten Fuel Saving Tips

As petrol continues to rise in price, there has never been a better time to think about eco-driving. Regardless of the vehicle you are driving, there are techniques you can use to save fuel and to minimise your impact on the environment.

1. Ask yourself: " Do I really need to drive? " It's the shortest journeys - less than two miles - which cause the most pollution and are inefficient in terms of fuel consumption. A straining cold engine will produce 60 per cent more pollution than a warm one. Yet it's these shorter journeys that are ideal for walking or cycling.

2. Plan your route. A bit of forethought can save much wear and tear - for the car,and the driver. Try to take the most direct route and go off peak if possible. Sitting in congestion means you are often doing zero miles per gallon. If you have to commute by car, think about car sharing, Park and Ride schemes or public transport.

3. Have your vehicle serviced regularly. This helps maintain efficient running and good economy. Inefficient, under-serviced engines can reduce fuel economy by ten per cent or more. Catalytic converters are environmentally friendly - but only if they are properly maintained.

4. Check your tyres. Correct tyre pressures will keep wear down and fuel economy up. Under-inflated tyres need replacing more often (itself an environmental problem) as well as being dangerous.

Anybody who has cycled on under-inflated tyres will appreciate how much extra effort is involved!

Make a point of checking them at least once a week.

5. Obey the speed limits. Try to "feather" the throttle as you reach your cruising speed. Doing 56mph uses 25 per cent less fuel than 70mph and a smoother driving style can bring significant fuel saving.

But never coast to save fuel; vehicle control must not be compromised.

6. Reduce the drag factor by removing roof racks and carriers when not in use. Driving with the window open also increases drag and lowers fuel economy. Remove unnecessary boot luggage, avoid heavy accessories and wide tyres that add rolling resistance. Air conditioning lowers fuel economy so use the vent settings as much as possible instead.

7. Buy green fuel - and use less of it. If you get stuck in traffic, switch off the engine. Find out if you can buy low sulphur diesel (City diesel) or cleaner petrol (low sulphur/aromatics) locally.

8. Use “accelerator” sense. Do you go straight from the accelerator to the brake? You would save fuel if you planned ahead, and rather than have to brake as you hit traffic, gently let the speed of the vehicle bring you to a halt as you join a queue. There is no point in rushing and then having to brake to come to a sudden halt.

9. Reverse in when you park. When you start off again, the engine will be cold and at its most fuel inefficient. If you can drive smoothly away without having to reverse when the engine is cold, not only will you save fuel you will also have better visibility.

10. Be a tank miser. Why fill the tank up to the very brim? If you do so, you may be carrying around additional fuel, which in turn means that you have more weight on board than is necessary. That extra weight will itself reduce fuel efficiency.

12 May 2006 Staff
 
 

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