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. These techniques have been part of the advanced driving process, delivering eco-benefits through fuel efficiencies since the Institute of Advanced Motoring was established in 1956.
Check tyre pressures
50% of tyres are under-inflated; 2psi below the recommended pressure can increase consumption by 1 per cent. Don't trust gauges at fuel sheds though, as they're often incorrect. A pressure gauge will help keep your tyres spot-on.Make a point of checking them at least once a week.
Use higher gears
Third-gear drivers should change up to fifth even at lower speeds, to improve economy by 20%. Don't labour the engine though – incorrect use of higher gears does nothing for efficiency, either. Use the rev counter as your guide.
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.
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.
Turn off the engine
You'd be surprised how long you can wait at some traffic lights – save fuel for those minutes by flicking off the engine. If you get stuck in traffic, switch off the engine.
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.Anticipate the lights, don't stress the car unduly, predict the traffic flow – anything you can do to make the same progress for less work on the accelerator
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.
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.
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.
Turn off air-conditioning
If you operate the air-con continuously it eats 5% of fuel (and on some cars considerably more than that), turn it off for an easy saving. But don't fully open the windows . You'll increase drag and, ironically, return worse economy figures than with air con on.
Avoid short journeys
Cold cars, even modern ones, have an insatiable thirst for fuel when cold. A car capable of 40mpg on a gentle motorway run can plunge to 15mpg or less on a few-mile run in town. By walking short distances, you're saving a tremendous amount of fuel.
Share a car
Want to improve economy by 50 per cent? Share a car with a friend! A little organisation with work colleagues and you'll also benefit from all the gossip and, better social skills