Poor driving habits can be compared to pouring money down the drain. As consumers buy fuel-efficient vehicles in record numbers to save money and benefit the environment, few know that good driving habits are another way to economise.
According to Derek Kirby, Training Director at Driving Skills for Life (DSFL) South Africa, driving style is the most important factor when it comes to saving fuel. “Your driving style not only affects your instant fuel usage as you drive, but it also affects your tyre wear and general condition of your car.”
Here are some simple tips from Ford that can help you be a greener, more fuel-efficient driver:
Aggressive driving such as rapid acceleration, speeding and braking can lower your fuel mileage significantly. Accelerate smoothly, brake softer and earlier, and stay in one lane while it’s safe to do so. Not only do these driving techniques save fuel, they can prolong the life of your brakes and tyres.
Speeding wastes lots of fuel. By driving 90km/h instead of 100km/h, you can improve your fuel efficiency by 10-15%. Also, aim for a constant speed. Pumping the accelerator sends more fuel into the engine, emptying the tank faster. Using cruise control whenever possible on the highway helps maintain speed and conserve fuel.
Today’s engines don’t need a warm up. Start the car immediately and gently drive away. Don’t leave your car idling. Prolonged idling increases emissions and wastes fuel. Turn the engine off whenever it is safe to do so, such as when stationary for more than 30 seconds. This avoids unnecessary energy consumption of an idle running engine.
Remove unnecessary cargo
Reducing the amount of cargo you keep in your trunk or back seat can improve your fuel efficiency as less energy is needed for acceleration. Try to travel as light as possible, keep only the most important items (like an emergency kit, jumper cables, a small toolset, and a small jack) in the vehicle.
Reduce aerodynamic drag
Your vehicle is designed for good aerodynamics – but attaching a huge carrier or bike to the roof adds more wind resistance. If you spend lots of time on the highway or are planning a long trip, try to transport extra items inside the vehicle or attached to the rear. Keeping your windows and sunroof closed can lower wind resistance too. You will have less drag, and better fuel economy.
Only use air-conditioner on the highway
Your fuel economy drops by up to 15% when you use the air-conditioner at low speeds. So, if it isn’t too hot, turn off the air conditioner when driving around town and roll down your windows instead. However, at 9 km/h or higher, using the air conditioner is preferable to open windows for two reasons: your vehicle has much lower wind resistance with the windows closed; and because the engine produces more power at higher revs, it’s able to run accessories like the air-conditioner compressor more efficiently.
Many short trips will use more fuel than a single, longer trip. So when you have to drive for errands, get as many accomplished as you can in one trip to maximise your fuel economy.
Fuel efficiency maintenance tips
How you take care of your vehicle can also have a big effect on how much fuel you use. By maintaining your car in peak condition you can keep more money in your wallet.
Keep your tyres properly inflated
Properly inflated tyres are safer, handle better, last longer, and get better fuel economy. The operating vehicle tyre inflation pressure can be found on a certification label, usually located on the driver’s door, a door pillar or the glove box. Just be careful not to exceed the operating tyre pressure either, because over-inflating tyres reduces their performance in terms of traction and lifespan.
Use the recommended grade of motor oil
Following the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil in your Owner’s Guide will keep your engine’s lubrication system working as efficiently as possible. Using the wrong grade of oil can drop your fuel economy by up to 2%.
Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day. Learn more about Xanet Scheepers.