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  • 21 tips for driving more efficiently

    Obviously buying a more environmentally friendly car is a great way of making your travelling greener, but you can also increase your fuel efficiency by driving better. Here are 21 tips:

    1. Tires

    Ensure tires are the correct pressure (will be more if carrying significant loads)

    2. Turn off unnecessary electrics.

    Gadgets like air con are well known consumers of fuel and should be used sparingly, but any electrical device operating will make the car work harder. Rear window heaters are the also significent consumers of fuel in this category, but others include the fan, radio, unnecessary lights.

    3. Watch those windows

    Speaking of air con, driving at high speeds with the windows open creates a lot of aerodynamic drag, which lowers fuel efficiency. However, driving at low speeds with the air conditioner OFF and the windows open can improve fuel efficiency.

    4. Do not over fill the tank.

    When the pump stops, stop filling. If you continue until the fuel is right to the top, you’ll lose fuel while driving, as many caps are not sealed properly. Also, to minimise losses, make sure the cap is in good condition, not just to prevent loss of liquid, but of vapour as well.

    5. Keep it maintained.

    Regular services will keep the engine happy, such as the air filter, oil, spark plugs (for petrolheads), screen wash, radiator etc.

    6. Idling.

    Don’t let the car idle for more than a few minutes. For example, at a bridge closing or queue at a railway crossing.

    7. Do not break or accelerate hard.

    Both apply, and both lead to less wear and tear on the car. There will be times where both are appropriate, but only occasionally, despite how much one might enjoy it. Any sudden changes in speed can lead to excessive consumption. Some say if you just drive gently, it can course build up of fuel residues, which is true, but if you accelerate too much, it can course unnecessary wear on the engine. A build up of grime can be cleaned with engine cleaner, while a worn engine can be very expensive!

    8. The clutch is not a break.

    This should be a mantra for many people. It’s not a substitute for the hand break (“balancing” the clutch is not good), or foot break (using the clutch to slow down uses more fuel, and higher maintenance cost). It’s just for changing gear, and at the correct speeds. If you change from 3rd to 4th at 25mph, then you probably should change from 4th to 3rd at about 20mph. Don’t be afraid to experiment, and find the smoothest speeds to change up or down, as it will vary depending on the gear ratios and what fuel you use. Try to change up below 2000rpm if you have a rev counter, particularly for diesel, and try to keep the engine revving smooth and low.

    9. Watch your Sole

    A continuation of 8, consider wearing thinner soled shoes, as you get a better feel of the peddles.

    10. Read the road ahead.

    On a motorway, watch 3 or 4 cars ahead, and anticipate breaking, as this will not only cause you to slow more gradually (saving fuel), but help prevent tale backs behind you. For further info on this, see here: http://www.amasci.com/amateur/traffic/traffic1.html. Also, tailgating will increase the likelihood that you brake late, as you’ll have less visibility of what’s up ahead, and will increase the likelihood of you braking or even crashing.

    11. Try and see red

    Continuing from 10, in more urban areas, watch for traffic lights turning red way ahead. If you time it right you, and slow down enough, you can get to the lights after it turns green, and not stop. Thereby changing your speed less, and saving fuel, but also getting to destination quicker. If people overtake you on the way to a red light, consider how much more fuel they will end up using. Imagine and how you would drive if your breaks didn’t work too well, you would slow down much earlier. This is more how you should drive. One way of improving these skills is by doing a commentary as you drive, as it will make you look for possible hazards, and help you spot them earlier.

    12. Stick to the speed limit.

    Doing 85mph up the motorway can use about 30% more fuel than doing 70mph. It’s surprising how little difference it makes when you drive faster, in fact smooth driving will on average get you there quicker, and safer.

    13. Eco Insurance.

    Get a quote for Eco Insurance from CIS. This is the UK’s first car insurance policy to help offset some of the damage your car’s CO2 emissions cause to the environment and at no extra cost to you.

    14. Cornering.

    The safest line to take on a corner is the outside line, as you will be able to see around the corner sooner (up to 2sec sooner). If you feel you have to take a racing line to avoid skidding, then you’re going too fast.

    15. Weight watching!

    Keep your vehicle clear of loads you don’t need. If you carry around tools or sporting equipment continuously, the car is working to move those as well for no reason.

    16. Roof racks and bike racks.

    Remove when not in use as they cause drag.

    17. Don’t get lost!

    Plan your journey, and avoid detours.

    18. Car sharing.

    A shared journey is one less car on the road, and can share in the fuel costs.

    19. Coasting the car.

    Temporarily shifting to neutral on a sufficiently lengthy downhill grade will dramatically increase mileage for carburetor cars, while cars with fuel injection – or carburetor cars with a fuel cut-off solenoid – will benefit more from the fuel cutoff when the car is left in gear.

    20. Chill out.

    Getting worked up over congestion or other road users can increase your aggressive driving, and is bad for your health.

    21. Consider taking advanced driving instruction.

    The Diamond Advanced Motorist Test is the first advanced driving test to include eco-safe driving techniques.

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