Do your bit for the environment – and give your wallet a break. Tim Gibson offers these tips on eco-driving:
1. Embrace inflation
According to tyre manufacturer Michelin, underinflated tyres can increase a car’s fuel consumption by as much as six per cent. With the average tank of fuel costing around £70, pumping up your tyres could bring a saving of around £4 per fill-up. Makes the effort seem worthwhile, doesn’t it?
2. Attend to maintenance
A well-serviced car is likely to be much more economical than one that is poorly maintained. Keeping it topped up with oil means internal components stay lubricated while any faults that hamper performance will be rectified. Always ensure it keeps up with recommended service intervals and consider the winter/summer checks as an investment.
3. Be a smooth operator
Try not to be too frenetic when you’re behind the wheel. Maintain a good distance from the car in front to avoid last-minute braking and get up to speed as smoothly as possible. Use the brake pedal and keep the gear engaged to achieve fuel reduction. Change to a lower gear when the engine speed drops below 1500 rpm.
4. Ease off the throttle
The Energy Saving Trust advises drivers to take their foot off the gas when they travel downhill. In most modern cars, this stops fuel being sent to the engine, keeping consumption to a minimum. Remain in gear, however, as coasting in neutral reduces driver control.
5. One, two – skip a few
Another tip from the Energy Saving Trust is to skip gears when conditions allow. By shifting straight from third to fifth, say, you’ll reduce wear and tear on your car’s transmission and save on fuel. Similarly, when slowing down, avoid shifting through each gear in turn. Drive in the highest gear possible that is suitable for the road and conditions.
6. Be cool about air conditioning
Air conditioning is great but it uses fuel to keep you cool. Be sure to switch it off when you’ve achieved the right temperature, especially in the winter months when a quick blast is often all that’s needed to clear the windows.
7. Don’t be a drag
You know those roof bars you attached for your summer holiday? Remember to take them off when they’re not in use to make your car as aerodynamic as possible. You’ll be amazed at the difference it has on fuel economy.
8. Switch off the engine in traffic
If you’re at a standstill for more than a couple of minutes, turn off the engine or engage technology such as Volvo start/stop. Even 15 seconds saves fuel. Not only will it prevent unnecessary fuel consumption but it’ll make for a more pleasant wait. You might even hear the odd bird singing.
9. Keep it steady
Avoid driving at excessive speeds, using speed limiters or cruise control if your car has them. Volvo has found that equipping cars with such features helps drivers maximise fuel economy and makes for a more relaxing journey.
10. Use your legs
We all love driving but it’s always worth avoiding unnecessary car journeys. Before you jump in your car for a quick trip to the local shop, ask whether you could walk or cycle instead. You can buy yourself a treat with the money saved.