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Tips for driving more fuel efficiently

The biggest factors determining your fuel costs are the use of the accelerator, the brakes and the gears. The key is to drive smoothly and in some cases people find they save 30% when they change driving habits. Here are seven useful tips.

    1. The accelerator is a money pump.  Gain speed smoothly. The harder you press the pedal, more fuel will flow.  Try to stay under 3,000 revs. Also, if you accelerate too quickly,  you’ll probably then have to brake hard, which is not fuel efficient.
    2. Change up a gear. Drive in the highest gear possible without labouring the engine. Change up much earlier than feels natural – it will reduce your rate of acceleration, but that’s not a bad thing, as we suggest in tip 1.
    3. Maintain good road position. You should always be aware of your road position. This helps you plan ahead and manoeuvre gradually. Also, more efficient driving means safer driving.
    4. The brakes burn money. Where safe, slow gradually. Every time you brake  you convert the energy you’ve put into forward motion back into heat. Look ahead, anticipate when you need to brake and then brake graduall. This will use the stored energy most efficiently. Remember, all that stored energy has cost you money.
    5. Listen to your engine. Harsh engine sounds and screeching tyres mean you’re doing it wrong. If you drive quickly from traffic light to traffic light, the person behind who drives in a more measured way will still be behind you at the next light. The difference is that they’ll have spent far less getting there.
    6. Keep moving if safe to do so. The most expensive distance that you drive is always the first metre to get the car moving. It takes a lot of energy to get a car going. If you can move gradually up to a traffic light as it changes from red to green, without stopping, it is more fuel efficient and causes less wear and tear than when stopping and restarting.
    7. Coasting in neutral appears cheaper but it’s dangerous. Changing into neutral and coasting may seem fuel efficient but don’t do it. It’s dangerous. You always need to have a gear engaged and have access to the accelerator to avoid unexpected hazards. Additionally, cornering whilst in neutral is dangerous. Cars need to ‘drive’ through corners and should only do so while in an engaged gear.

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Barry Clarkson

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