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How to drive more efficiently?

We’re growing evermore conscious of our carbon footprint and driving economically was just one of the recent car related new year's resolutions that we made this year. Whilst the electric age of cars is very much upon us, for some drivers it is still not a realistic or affordable option to lease an electric car. With that it in mind, it is still important for all of us to try and minimise our environmental impact whilst driving, with the benefit also being a smaller amount of cash going on fuel!

These techniques, commonly known as 'hypermiling' should help you towards becoming a more efficient, economical driver. We’ve compiled a list of some of our top tips, and how you can achieve them!

1. Check your tyre pressures regularly

This is important to keep your car well maintained at all times, but especially before long distance trips. Under-inflated tyres will make the car use more fuel and therefore run less economically over the same distance. It’s also important to make sure that the tyres are inflated to match the loads you’re carrying. To find out the correct tyre pressures for your car, check your handbook or some cars will have this information on the inside of the driver or passenger doors.

2. Keep to speed limits

A massive reason for this is for your safety and for the safety of those on the road with you. However, sticking to speed limits will also save you fuel. The faster you’re going the more fuel you’re using, and the difference between 70mph and 80mph can be a 25% increase in fuel use!

3. Don't blast your air con constantly

You wouldn’t keep the heating on in your house constantly, so don’t in your car. Dress appropriately for the weather and don’t just rely on the cars heating or air conditioning. Keeping the air con on puts an extra load on the engine, and yep, you guessed it, uses up more fuel. Using the air con at regular intervals insures it stays working nicely and doesn’t get any smelly build-up, but just be smart with it… if you’re trying to save on fuel this is any easy solution.

4. Remove roof boxes and bike racks when not in use

Weight effects economy, so if you’ve got a roof rack with bikes, or even a car with a sun roof, that’s all extra weight that’s making the car work harder. Roof boxes also create wind resistance and a drag effect that makes the car a lot less efficient. So even though sometimes it's a bit of a faff and you can't be bothered, make the effort to remove roof boxes and bike racks when not in use - it'll be worth it in the long run!

5. Keep the boot empty when you can

With similar logic to the bike rack, a load of extra weight in the car is going to make it less efficient and cost you more in the long run. So don't keep stuff in your boot unnecessarily, and when you are carrying more, remember to adjust your tyre pressures!

6. Anticipate

Plan as far ahead as possible and pre-empt any potential hazards. Even though we know it’s sometimes unavoidable, try to keep momentum going as much as possible rather than doing lots of stop/start driving. It's also important that you anticipate changes in speed and don’t accelerate or brake harshly where avoidable. If you can, go up and down through the gears smoothly rather than making block changes and being left caught unprepared if you need to change speed quickly. These rapid speed changes will mean that your engine spins faster, and the harder your engine has to work, the more fuel it uses.

7. Stick to motorways

Motorways are the best roads for fuel efficient driving, as the driver sticks to a largely consistent speed with minimal harsh accelerating and breaking. This lack of start/stop driving may take you on a longer route, but will positively affect your MPG overall.

8. Keep cruise control for motorway driving

As intelligent as these systems are, they can’t predict regular gradient changes on the road.  Therefore it will keep the power on for longer than you would if you were controlling the throttle yourself.

9. Stay in high gears for as long as possible

As stated by the RAC, their advice is to change up through gears as quickly as you can whilst keeping the revs as low as possible. Their advice being around 2000 rpm - just make sure you keep within the speed limit.

10. Don't drive in heavy shoes

As much as we might like them, big, clunky and heavy shoes can reduce our sensitivity to the throttle and make us a bit more (get ready for the pun) heavy footed.

11. Avoid idling, but be careful of switching off when the engine is cold...

One thing is for sure, sitting about in your car chatting with the engine running is not great for fuel use. If you know you’re going to sit still for more than a few minutes, switch the engine off. A common misconception is that you have to leave the car idling for a while to warm the engine. This is not the case as the engine warms up much faster whilst driving… just take it easy and remember that it's illegal and unsafe to drive off with ice or snow on your car.

Whilst the instinct to switch off your engine at every possible moment may now be there, make sure you’re not doing it all the time whilst in traffic - unless your engine is warm and you expect to be sat there for a few minutes. Ignoring this will really hammer your cars battery. If you have the option, go for a car with stop/start functions – where the car will only switch off it knows it is capable of switching back on again.

12. Combine journeys

Lots of short trips mean the engine can’t warm up properly and therefore perform as well as it might. Short journeys are much more intensive on the engine due to this. So, rather than 3 short trips throughout the day, combine them all together and save time! Even better, combine them with friends, colleagues or family!

Want a little extra help? You could always also install a lightfoot device – which uses visual and audio prompts to help you drive more economically. See how our Mercedes-AMG A 35 performed using the device here. 

Do you have any hypermiling tips that we've not mentioned? Let us know!

If you're interested in really cutting down your emissions, you can also see a list of our top 10 low emission cars here.

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Posted on 20th January 2020 at 11:09 AM

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