Fuel-efficient driving

Fuel-efficient driving is not only about driving in a way that reduces the effects of your journey on the environment, it’s also about making your journeys more comfortable and reducing your fuel bills.

The factors that affect your vehicle’s fuel consumption the most are

  • how you brake
  • how you accelerate
  • the speed at which you drive
  • the weight and wind resistance of your vehicle
  • the condition of your tyres.

Applying the driving theory you have learnt and driving to a standard that will pass the practical driving test, is both safe and fuel efficient.

Environmental impacts

The way you drive affects the impact your car has on the environment. Fuel-efficient driving is all about keeping this impact to a minimum.

Driving in a fuel-efficient way will

  • make your journeys more comfortable
  • reduce your fuel bills
  • reduce emissions that are harmful to the environment.

It’s not difficult to do either; the most important things are to

  • drive smoothly: sharp acceleration, heavy braking and stop–go driving will use more fuel
  • empty the boot and remove roof racks when not being used
  • load your car carefully if you’re using a roof rack to avoid creating too much air resistance
  • maintain your car to keep it working efficiently
  • switch off your engine if you’re stationary for more than a couple of minutes
  • plan your route so you can avoid roadworks and congestion
  • drive off as soon as possible after you start the engine: modern cars do not need to warm up.

Choosing a vehicle

Electric vehicles are much cleaner to run than petrol- or diesel-engine vehicles. You can get a grant towards the cost of buying an electric car or van

  • 35% off the cost of a car up to a maximum of £3,000
  • 20% off the cost of a van up to a maximum of £8,000.

The grant is available for electric vehicles (EVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles: check the guide on GOV.UK to find out which vehicles are eligible and how to claim the grant.

Road transport makes up around 20% of all emissions making it one of the biggest sources of air pollution, particularly in densely populated areas.

Air pollution, including the carbon dioxide and nitric oxides released when burning fuel in an engine, can

  • contribute to health problems (for example, respiratory problems, heart or vascular disease)
  • damage vegetation and disrupt wildlife
  • weaken buildings
  • deplete natural resources.

Vehicles also contribute cause noise pollution. Try not to slam car doors and rev your engine. You must not use your car horn between 11:30pm and 7am unless another vehicle poses a danger to you.

Different types of fuel have different environmental effects.

Type of fuel used by engine



  • Modern engines are becoming more efficient.
  • Catalytic converters remove up to 75% of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide and hydrocarbons.


  • Catalytic converters do not reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted.
  • If you drive at over 3,000 rpm, the catalytic converter cannot clean up emissions completely.



  • Very fuel efficient.
  • Produce less carbon dioxide than petrol engines.
  • Emit less carbon monoxide and fewer hydrocarbons than petrol engines.


  • Produce more oxides of nitrogen, which are bad for local air quality.

Liquefied petroleum gas


  • Cheaper than petrol or diesel.
  • Emissions cause less air pollution than petrol or diesel engines.


  • Produces more carbon dioxide per mile travelled than diesel.

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