How to drive more efficiently and improve your fuel economy

We all know that having a ‘heavy gas foot’ means that you burn more fuel when you’re driving. Aggressive stop-start driving that involves heavy acceleration and heavy braking is not only dangerous, but it’s also bad for the planet, too. In an age where fuel efficiency is just as important to drivers as the power of a car (and even how many cup-holders it has!), there is plenty that you can do to drive more efficiently, and improve your fuel economy at the same time. Not only will the planet thank you, but so will your bank balance! Here are our top tips to help you cut down on your fuel consumption:

Maintenance – a well-maintained vehicle is more efficient

If your car is in tip-top condition, it’ll be far more fuel-efficient. One of the most important (and often overlooked) factors is incorrect tyre pressure. This can increase your fuel consumption by up to 10%, and potentially be dangerous too. Carry out regular checks, and always keep those tyre pressures at the manufacturer’s recommended levels.

Don’t idle the engine

Idling the engine is a bad habit to get into, and in the vast majority of cases, totally unnecessary. Not only are you burning fuel, but you’re pumping pollution out into the atmosphere too. If you’re going to be hanging around for a few minutes, turn your engine off and restart only when you’re ready to move off.

Cut down on the weight

The more weight you have in the car, the more energy it will take to move it forward, and the greater the amount of fuel your engine will need. Empty your boot and cabin of anything you don’t need, and you’ll notice a difference in the amount of fuel you use.

Ditch the roof-rack

Unless you absolutely need it, a roof-rack or roof box is like dragging an anchor behind you! The wind resistance roof boxes and even bike racks on the back makes a huge difference in the performance of your car. If you don’t need it, take it off.

Lighten up on that lead foot!

A heavy accelerator foot means you’ll be drinking more fuel. It also makes the journey much more jerky and uneven, and possibly even dangerous. Avoid harsh acceleration and you’ll reduce your fuel consumption considerably.

Turn the Air-con down

Unless the thermometer is really climbing, turn off the air conditioning. In fact, it’s worth turning off any unnecessary electrical appliances such as heated seating or heated windscreens, as the more strain you’re putting on your car’s electrical system, the harder the engine has to work, and the more fuel you burn.

Plan ahead to avoid heavy traffic

Heavy, stop-start traffic not only means your car starts to guzzle fuel, but it can also overheat easily, causing serious damage to the engine. If you can, try and plan your journey so that you avoid the heaviest rush-hour traffic, and take advantage of sat-navs that provide you with information about potential roadworks, and if necessary, re-route or try and make your journey at a time when there’ll be less traffic on the road.

Don’t overrev the engine

The more you rev the engine, the more fuel you’ll burn. If you’re in a car with a manual transmission then get into the habit of changing up and down the gearbox earlier.

Use gravity

If you’re going downhill then you can ease off the gas pedal. Gravity, the universal force that holds entire galaxies together, is perfectly capable of helping your car maintain its momentum downhill without any additional input from you. If you’re facing an incline then rather than accelerating up it, increase your speed before you hit the slope and let the forward momentum of the vehicle carry you part-way up. This is a technique known as ‘reading the road’ and is a great driving skill to learn to help you drive more smoothly and efficiently.