By Shell on Sep. 30, 2019
Want to improve your car’s fuel economy? The power is in your hands, feet and head, says Mark Lane, owner and managing director of driver-training organisation Murcotts Driving Excellence.
"We highlight what we call 'eco' driving in our defensive-driving program," says Mark. "Defensive and crash-free driving go hand in hand with being an eco-driver." If you’re ready to reduce your fuel bills, impact on the planet and become a safer driver to boot, follow these recommendations.
1. Be smooth
If you’re distracted, not looking far enough ahead or overly aggressive behind the wheel, you’ll endanger yourself and waste fuel. “I can’t emphasise enough the effect of smooth driving, how you use your vision and how you anticipate traffic flow,” says Mark. “We’ve been able to demonstrate that we can reduce somebody’s fuel consumption by 27 per cent just by how they drive.
“Our catchcry is, ‘Look up, stay back’. If you’re looking as far up the road as possible, you’re anticipating potential risks and hazards earlier because you’re seeing them earlier.”
2. Check your tyres
Some of a car’s power is used just to overcome rolling resistance, a job that gets harder if your tyres are underinflated. “Correctly inflated tyres can deliver anywhere from a five to seven per cent reduction in fuel consumption,” says Mark.
3. Ditch unnecessary items
Weight and aerodynamic drag are other key fuel-consumption drivers, so don’t drive around with unnecessary heavy items in the boot or an empty roof box. “Many of us have things we leave in the vehicle that make it heavier and that means it’s working harder to get from A to B,” says Mark.
4. Keep on top of servicing
Oil degrades. Filters clog. Wheels are knocked out of alignment. These and other elements can all impact on your vehicle’s fuel efficiency, so service it by the book. “Vehicle maintenance is critical because even dirty spark plugs can have a big impact on fuel consumption,” says Mark.
5. Slow down
As speeds rise, more of a car’s power is needed to overcome aerodynamic drag. If you’re not in a hurry – and it’s safe to do so – wind down your cruising speed a little. “If you’re driving at 110km/h versus 100km/h, you’ll be going through a lot more fuel,” says Mark.
6. Plan ahead
Cars use significantly more fuel in stop-start traffic than on the open road, so consider taking a more free-flowing route to your destination, even if it’s a little longer. “The shortest trip is not always the most economical,” says Mark. “Diverting your trip can cut fuel use because you’re not on and off the pedals so much.”
7. Press the right buttons
If fuel economy is the priority, don’t drive around with your drive-mode selector or transmission set to ‘sport’, or get carried away using your auto gearbox’s manual shift function. “It’s fun to use the shift paddles but if you’re over-revving the vehicle you’re going through more fuel,” says Mark.