Eco Driving Tips for Better Fuel Economy

person filling up fuel at a hand pump

How to be a cost-efficient motorist

Fuel consumption is as much about the vehicle as it is the driver. You can do things yourself that can help you be a more cost-efficient motorists and, likewise, there are things you can do to your vehicle to ensure it runs economically too. Reduce your your fuel economy with these tips for vehicle optimisation, vehicle maintenance, and driving economically.

new nissan micra product image
new nissan micra product image

How to optimise your car for fuel efficiency

One element that kills fuel economy is weight. As such, removing any unnecessary items from your car can be help in aiding your fuel economy, so check your boot before setting off and see if you actually need to take everything in it.This is especially the case for the likes of roof boxes; not only do these add plenty of weight to push down on the car, but also hinder the aerodynamics of the car. This leads to a similar case as under-inflated tyres where there is more resistance and more stress on the car, making the engine have to work harder.

Planning ahead can save you money on the fuel bill in different ways. Firstly, heading out on a trip where there is plenty of traffic will leave your car idling and having short bursts of acceleration as you try to make progress, which will greatly affect your fuel economy. With this in mind, if you can find a clearer alternative route, it might be best to take it to keep you moving.

In addition, short journeys don’t help keep fuel costs down, either, as your car’s engine will not have to time to warm up and a cold engine uses more fuel. Combine trips if you can to enable your car’s engine to get to an efficient temperature. In winter months when your windscreen is susceptible to icing over, it’s not good practice to leave your car running and use the heating to clear the screen. Instead, get straight on with de-icer and a scrape the ice away.

driver checking engine oil levels with a dipstick
driver checking engine oil levels with a dipstick

How to maintain your car for fuel efficiency

First and foremost, looking after your car’s engine is paramount to the health of the vehicle, which will directly affect its fuel efficiency and economy. Having your car serviced at its designated intervals is massively important in helping towards this cause. Not only will this ensure your oil is topped up and in good condition, but a service also helps identify any underlying problems that may be hindering your car in other ways.

Factors such as tyre pressures also play an important part in fuel economy. Under-inflated tyres cause more friction on the road and therefore increased rolling resistance. On top of that, it can be dangerous to have under-inflated tyres as it increases the chance of a blowout, while your steering could be compromised as well as your braking distances.

When changing engine oil or refuelling your vehicle always adhere to the manufacturers guidelines on what fuel and oil type to use. Use the right octane fuel and manufacturer approved oil will increase the efficiency of the engine. Not only is this helpful for fuel economy but for the general welfare of your vehicle that will keep it running for longer.

citroen c1 aerial view
citroen c1 aerial view

How to drive economically

Smooth driving: Economical driving is all about sensible driving and motorists who are steady drivers will be more economical with their vehicles. Acceleration and braking will have a large impact on the economy of a vehicle. A consistent pattern of breaking and accelerating means you are revving the engine, causing the vehicle to use a greater amount of fuel for power.

Driving faster is an obvious factor in fuel consumption and would you should pay close attention to. You may be surprised how going 10mph faster can affect your fuel economy. For example, on the motorway, travelling at 80mph will use up to 25% more fuel than it would at 70mph. Cruise control can help maintain fuel economically but cruise control is only effective on long, straight, flat roads (i.e motorways) so can only really benefit on longer journeys.

Smart gear changes: Smart gear changes mean driving in the highest possible gear. The gear you drive in is dependant on your speed but you can still optimise gear changes so you avoid revving the engine. The faster the engine is worked the more fuel it will consume. Motorway driving is often the most fuel efficient. This is because you will be driving in a higher gear for a longer period.

There is no standard speed for an optimal fuel economy. This is wholly dependant on where you are driving, the type of road and other environment factors like the weather and road surface. Fuel economy will also change from vehicle to vehicle.

Use electronics wisely: Limit the usage of electronic features like heated seating, window heaters and fans. Be wary of using headlights in daylight to unless you feel more comfortable driving with them on. Air conditioning will use additional fuel as it uses engine power to work.

peugeot 108 product view
peugeot 108 product view

What to look out for when buying an economical car

If you're a cost-focused motorists then finding a car with cheap fuel-economy is going to be high on your list. Your fuel economy is going to vary depending on what sort of vehicle you need, but you will still be able to find a car that is economical to run in its class.

Petrol vs Diesel: Petrol is cheaper per litre than diesel, but diesel engines are more efficient to run and can use as much as 20% less fuel than a petrol engine.

Engine size: The petrol vs diesel comparison is only applicable to like-to-like vehicles. Engine size plays a major role in fuel efficiency; a four cylinder engine will be more efficient than a V8 engine regardless of its fuel type.

MPG: Miles per gallon is an obvious indicator of a vehicle which good fuel economy. But what is a good mpg? The mpg will be dependent on the size, weight and performance of the vehicle. According the RAC foundation, the average fuel consumption for a UK vehicle was 50.5mpg. On a vehicles online or showroom listing, you will be able to view the fuel consumption information of the vehicle. This can sometimes be listed as low, medium, high, extra-high, which shows the possible fuel-economy of the vehicle.

Weight: You're not going to be calculating the ratio of vehicle weight and engine power when buying a car but knowing that weight is not good for fuel economy may help you choose an estate over an SUV.