10 ways to drive efficiently

May 23, 2016 by Joe Newman | Guides | Run a used car

Driving economically saves you money. It's also an easy way of doing your bit for the environment. The best way you can save fuel is buying an economical car. However, whatever car you have, you can save money by just changing the way you approach minor motoring habits.

1. Empty Your Boot

If your car was a human, it'd be timidly staring at the scales. It's time to trim down. We all hoard unnecessary junk in our boot. But what you may not realise is how much it's costing you in. Classic boot detritus includes sports equipment, old walking boots, and tools. Many people also consider it a good place to store rubbish. Whatever you're keeping in your boot, your laziness in leaving it there is costing you cash, so take it out. There are other ways you can save weight, such as keeping the optimum amount of fuel in your car at any given time or replacing your spare wheel with an emergency foam kit.

2. Look After Your Engine

Your car's engine is a complex, living machine. Look after its health. To keep it running at its best, you've got to keep in proper working order. Your engine runs more efficiently when it’s properly lubricated, so keep it topped up with oil. Also, taking your car for a service at intervals recommended by your manufacturer will make sure that all the parts of the car are running at their optimal level.

3. Reduce Drag

Are you driving around with the roof box on the top of your car? This is creating drag and costing you money and it's not the only bad habit. Also, keeping your windows open when you're driving, especially at high speeds, increases fuel consumption. During the development process, all cars go through a wind tunnel to maximise their streamlined nature. Items that you add, such as bike racks, roof racks, or pound shop England flags, will impact on the meticulous scientific approach that the car manufacturers take towards designing a vehicle. Wearing your country's shirt to show your support is the obvious, economical alternative to tacky flags.

4. Keep Your Tyres Pumped Up

When your tyres aren't at the recommended pressure, the rolling resistance increases the surface area of the tyre on the road, which in turn makes your car less efficient. Make sure that your tyres are at the PSI stated in your owner's manual. It's standard practice to check your tyre pressure before any long journey, however, taking more frequent trips to the air pumps when you go to fill up will make any journey more comfortable, and your car more economical.

5. Drive Smoothly

This one is a win-win. Keep it nice and smooth. Driving smoothly not only means that both you and your passengers will enjoy a more comfortable ride, it means you're driving more economically. This means not putting your foot to the floor. It's all about slower, smoother acceleration. Gently apply pressure, gradually building up speed while accelerating and gradually easy off when slowing down. If you're stuck in a jam, keeping your car rolling along, instead of bringing it to a complete halt as this is also much more economical than stopping and starting.

6. Stick to the Speed Limit

You may think it doesn't take a genius to work this one out. The faster you drive; the more fuel you're going to burn. However, it isn't quite as simple as that. It's got a lot more to do with how aggressively you drive. The more you put your foot to the floor, the more you burn fuel. A good rule of thumb for driving economically, and to drive legally and safely, is to stick to the speed limit. Driving too fast means you're going to have to slow down and speed up a lot more. This is significantly less economical than simply staying at a steady speed.

7. Turn Off Unnecessary Electrics

Are you the kind of person that has the heated seats on in summer just because you want to get your money's worth? Or the air-con on in winter because you like your car to be at exactly 12 degrees the whole year round? Using unnecessary electrics burns unnecessary fuel and costs you unnecessary cash. Modern cars are teeming with gadgets these days and you can often forget that they're turned on. But, in the same way, you've become more energy efficient in your house (by turning your TV off standby etc.), you should also bring this more economical, ecological approach to your automotive environment.

8. Make a Game of Lowering Your MPG

You can train yourself to drive economically, without even knowing it. Most modern cars are fitted with MPG metres, which means you can constantly keep an eye on how efficient your driving performance is. Make sure you know what the manufacturer of your car states as the combined MPG capabilities of your car. Although these are usually erm, 'optimistic', they can still give you an ambitious target to try and reach. Make a game out of it. It can be quite addictive and instantly makes you a more economical driver.

9. Use Your Brakes As Little As Possible

Braking wastes energy. So, unless you're driving around in either a hybrid or a Formula 1 car that have kinetic energy recovery devices fitted, you should avoid it whenever you can. If you're driving on the motorway it should be reasonably easy to avoid using the brakes by keeping your eye on the road. When you're driving in the city, where there are frequent stops, trusting yourself to judge how long it will take for the car to come to a complete stop is much more economical than slamming on the brakes at the last minute.

10. Don't Keep The Engine On

If you don't need it on, turn it off. In a static jam, or at a level crossing? If rolling along isn't an option, there's no point wasting fuel.