Published 4 October 2021
Last updated 4 October 2021
In this blog we'll explore how to drive with fuel-efficiency in mind.
You’ve probably heard that there’s a shortage of fuel around at the moment. In fact, if you’re one of those people who’ve found themselves queuing at petrol station forecourts, you’ll be very aware of what’s been going on.
We thought that this was the perfect opportunity to give you some top-tips for fuel efficient driving. It won’t mean that filling your car becomes a thing of the past – but it might well make trips to the pumps less frequent!
Start with the basics. Make sure that your vehicle is regularly serviced – that way you stand a better chance of it running at its most efficient.
At the same time:
- Look after your tyres. Check that they have the correct air pressure and look for signs of tread wear or damage to the tyre wall. Under inflated tyres have more resistance to rolling. This means your engine must work harder and it will use more fuel. Don’t overinflate your tyres either – this will reduce the tyre’s grip making skidding more likely
- Use the right type of engine oil. Yes, that’s right, not all engine oil is the same grade or specification. If you don’t know what to put in your vehicle, check the owner’s manual for more information.
Planning your trip
Before you go anywhere, check for congestion on your route. Sitting with in an idling engine burns more fuel than you’d think, so switch on the radio or check the internet for traffic bulletins.
Here’s a few more things to consider:
- Loads on roof racks mean extra wind resistance – and that makes the engine work harder and use more fuel. Don’t leave a roof rack on the car if you don’t need it
- If you have several places to visit, try and combine them into one trip. When the engine is cold it is less efficient than when it’s at its normal operating temperature
- Ask yourself – ‘is this journey really necessary?’ If you can get to your destination by cycling or walking, then take the opportunity to save a few pennies and leave the car at home.
At the wheel
The basic rules are: keep everything nice and smooth. Drive steadily, accelerate gently and avoid sudden, rapid increases or decreases in speed unless it is necessary for safety reasons – such as avoiding a hazard.
You should also:
- Plan further ahead. Sharp braking wastes fuel, so make sure you allow plenty of time to slow down. Easing off the accelerator may be all that’s required for a situation ahead, rather than rushing up to it and then having to brake firmly. Getting this right means making sure your hazard awareness and anticipation skills are in tip-top condition. If you need more help with this, The Official DVSA Guide to Driving – the essential skills has some great information and advice to get you started
- Find the ‘sweet spot’. Most modern cars can display how much fuel your car is using per mile. Generally, using the highest gear the car is happy with means the engine is using the least amount of fuel. Try and drive in that sweet spot for as long as it’s safe to do so and you are staying within the speed limit
- Use cruise control where you can. Having the computer wizardry maintain a constant speed will improve your fuel-efficiency.
Fuel for thought
That concludes our whistle stop tour of the basics of fuel-efficient driving. If you’d like to learn more about this and other important topics, head over to the Safe Driving for Life shop and browse our range of top-quality publications for every stage of your driving life.