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Drive More Efficiently and Save Money

Drive More Efficiently and Save Money

Last Updated 11 July 2022 | Published 3 March 2017


Economic Driving Could Save You £85 a Year

Research by Barclaycard Fuel+ found that by making just a few simple changes to the way they drive, motorists could save anything up to £84 each year.

In the UK, more than 636 million litres of petrol go to waste each year. This is a result of more than a third of drivers not using efficient driving techniques, such as using the handbrake when waiting at traffic lights.

It may be a surprise, but the survey found that it’s younger drivers who are actually the most efficient drivers, with 17-24-year-olds the most eco-efficient behind the wheel. Meanwhile, over 50% of drivers aged 65 and over said they didn’t use any techniques which save fuel. And drivers in London are particularly eco-friendly and more likely to walk a short journey rather than drive.

Fuel consumption has a lot to do with the car you buy, but whatever you drive there are things you can do to save fuel, save money and cut pollution.


Car maintenance

Cars work best and are most efficient when they are properly maintained. 

  • Get your car serviced regularly to optimise fuel efficiency.
  • Always use the right specification of engine oil (check your handbook)
  • Check your tyre pressures regularly and before long journeys.  Under-inflated tyres cause more rolling resistance and friction, and that means the engine has to work harder to get the same results, and will use more fuel than if your tyres were correctly inflated.


Before you drive

    • Scrape ice off your car in Winter, rather than leave your car idling to melt the ice. 
    • Plan your journey as getting lost or having to take unnecessary diversions wastes fuel.  Check traffic news before you go in case there are any issues on your route, so you can plan the most efficient alternative route.
    • Don’t sit idle – idling wastes fuel and your engine warms up more quickly when you’re moving so don’t start the engine until you’re ready to go. 
    • Reduce drag –Roof racks, cycle racks or top boxes create more wind drag which means the engine has to work harder.  Remove them  when you are not using them to cut drag and reduce fuel usage.
    • Save weight.  Carrying any extra weight that you don’t need impacts fuel economy.  Only keep in the car what you need for your journey and remove the rest.
    • Combine short trips – short trips use more fuel, so where possible combine them into a longer journey.  
    • Walk or cycle –  if your journey is under a couple of miles, and you are physically capable consider walking or cycling instead of using your car.


Driving more efficiently

  • Smooth and gentle – Smooth driving with progressive and gentle acceleration is key to keeping a high fuel economy average.  Read the road ahead so you have the time to respond to the road conditions, and avoid sudden braking or acceleration.  You are using fuel to accelerate, and wasting it if you have to brake straight away.
  • Keep moving – stopping then starting again uses more fuel than rolling.  Slow early for traffic lights or approaching a queue and you might not have to stop completely. Stop-start traffic is not good for fuel economy, so if you can keep the car rolling, do. Use clutch control and engine braking to manage your speed – even if you’re at walking pace the car’s inertia helps you be more efficient than coming to standstill When you are approaching a queue or traffic lights, start to slow down early and you might able to avoid stopping completely.
  • Use your air-con wisely – fuel consumption is increased when using air conditioning at low speeds.  When driving around town open your windows and switch off your air conditioning to improve fuel economy.  When you are driving at higher speeds such as on the motorway, the impact that air con will have on fuel economy is pretty negligible .
  • Drive gently when the car is cold. Cars are at their least efficient when they are cold.  If you drive quickly straight from start-up, you are redoubling the wasted fuel, and also wearing out the engine more quickly in the process.
  • Change up earlier – Many newer cars come with gear shift indicators on the dashboard- that will identify the most efficient point to change gear for the current conditions.  Typically change gear at an engine speed of around 2,000 rpm (diesel) or 2,500 (petrol).   
  • Cut down on the electrics – using any electrical items in the car such as the stereo, demisters, and heaters will use more fuel.  So be sure to turn them off when you do not need them.
  • Stick to the speed limit – the faster you go, the greater the fuel consumption. Drive at 70mph and you’ll use up to 9% more than at 60mph and up to 15% more than at 50mph. Taking it up to 80mph can use up to 25% more fuel than at 70mph.
  • Don’t coast –  you will not save fuel by letting the car coast in neutral, plus it isn’t advisable as you will not be in full control of the car.


Choosing your next car

  • The car itself can have a huge impact on your fuel costs and how efficient your driving is.
  • The smaller the engine, the more efficient the car will be.
  • Choosing an ultra-low emissions car is one way to guarantee you are driving as efficiently as possible.
  • Electric cars produce zero exhaust emissions and electric hybrids emit only 75g or less of CO2 per kilometre.


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