How To Drive: Better Every Day
Going into tree-hugging mode can help you reduce your fuel bill by 20%. Diesel is currently more fuel-efficient than petrol and cars with automatic gearboxes use around 10% more fuel than manuals, but the most important part of the fuel-saving equation is you.
The harder you press the pedal on the right (powerrrr), the more fuel you’re using. If you’re driving over the speed limit, you save time but you’re definitely burning gas and money. Driving at 70 mph uses up to 9 per cent more fuel than at 60 mph, and up to 15 per cent more than at 50 mph.
However, before you start driving around like a sloth and making yourself mobile roundabout on the open road, here are some tips on how smooth driving can help your wallet as well as your cool quotient.
1. Accelerate gently and read the road ahead to avoid unnecessary braking, because brakes are the enemy. Every time you touch them, you’re paying fuel tax. Try leaving a gap to the car in front so you don’t need to brake when it does and roll off the gas early for red lights, queuing traffic, pedestrian crossings or any other stationary traffic. The more you preserve momentum, the less fuel you require to accelerate again.
2. Stay alert so that when you have to slow down or stop, you can decelerate smoothly by climbing off the gas pedal ahead of time and drift to a stop.
3. Change up gears earlier to avoid revving the engine too hard. Changing at around 2,000rpm in a diesel or 2,500 rpm in a petrol, when appropriate, ramps up your efficiency.
4. Cruise control is an easy way to maintain a constant speed, and therefore save fuel.
5. Hills. Where cruise control fails is on varied terrain with hills because the engine strains to hold a set speed uphill, burning a higher ratio of fuel. It is more economical to gas it downhill when the engine is hardly working, instead of coasting down, then carry the extra momentum into the hill. That way you need less power and burn less fuel on the way up the other side.
6. Ditch the air conditioning. At higher speed it doesn’t matter so much, but at low speeds switching off the air con can improve efficiency by 10%! In the summer you can always open the window and treat every drop of sweat like a pound coin. You’ll smell like a hermit, but a wealthy one.
7. Pick your route. Optimizing your route and not getting lost is the common sense saver. When we filmed Top Gear for the 780-mile race from Switzerland to Blackpool on one tank of gas, route selection was the key to victory above everything else.
8. Tyre pressure. Under-inflation lets the tyre’s tread bulge, creating a broader contact with the road surface. The extra friction creates terrible rolling resistance, and your engine has to work harder to compensate, burning loads more fuel in the process. For the average family saloon, just a 6psi drop in pressure leads to a 20% increase in fuel consumption and 30% increase in tyre wear.