Eco driving: how to save money at the pumps

BookMyGarage infographic about how to be an eco driver

Eco driving might sound dull and worthy but one of the biggest expenses for most drivers is fuel. Think about your car and how you drive it and you’ll save money at the pumps. Here are our top 10 eco driving tips.

  1. Clear extra weight out of the car

Weight is the enemy of fuel economy, hence why the most economical cars are becoming lighter all the time. With more weight to shift, the engine has to work harder and uses more fuel. So take that kid’s bike out of the boot, remove the jumbo size bottle of screen wash and ask yourself if you really need a few litres of oil ‘just in case’.

  1. Remove roof racks when not in use

The more streamlined your car is, the less power it will need to cut through the air and the more economical it will be. One of the largest contributing factors to poor aerodynamics is a roof rack – especially if left on when not in use. They can increase fuel usage by up to 10 per cent. An empty roof box can increase drag by up to 20 per cent. When they’re not in use, remove them.

  1. Slow down on the motorway

If you work out your journey time at an average of 70mph and then 60mph you’ll find that you won’t arrive very much later at the lower speed. But you will certainly save a lot of fuel: modern cars are around 15 per cent more economical at 60mph than they are at the national speed limit.

  1. Anticipate the road better

The key to maximum efficiency from your engine is to keep the revs low. One way to do this is to plan ahead when driving. Brake gently for corners and try to maintain speed so you don’t have to accelerate too much. When you do, press the pedal lightly to build speed slowly rather than surging forwards.

  1. Don’t buy ‘premium’ fuel

Some performance cars demand that premium fuel is used. However, most cars don’t and paying for the ‘super’ or ‘ultra’ fuel will do nothing for your vehicle. What it will do is cost you lots of money as regular fuel is generally around 10 pence per litre cheaper. So stick with the regular brew.

  1. Turn the Air-conditioning off

A car’s air-conditioning system is usually driven by the engine so it takes power to work. This means you are using more fuel by having the A/C on, so if you’re only circulating air and it’s not too hot, turn the A/C off and you may save up to five per cent more fuel.

Brown SUV packed with toys, boxes and furniture which is bad for eco driving
If you regularly overload your car, you’ll struggle to do any eco driving at all! Keep the boot light and only ever carry what you need.
  1. Check your tyre pressures

As you drive down the road, your engine is working to overcome the rolling resistance of the tyres on the road surface all the time. If your tyres are underinflated by just 10 per cent this could make your fuel usage increase by a similar amount. It’s also unsafe for the tyres not to be inflated to their designed pressures, so check them regularly.

  1. Don’t drive in rush hour

Cars are designed to be most efficient at certain speeds, and idling while stationary is certainly not one of those. If you are sitting in traffic you are burning fuel when you need not be. Try to plan your journeys to avoid rush hours and the busiest roads. And if your car is fitted with a start-stop system, don’t turn it off.

  1. Close your windows

Similar to point number two, this is all about aerodynamics. Keep your windows and sunroof closed and the air will flow over your car more cleanly. It should make the engine less stressed and use less fuel.

  1. Carpool

Adding the weight of an extra person to your car will cause it to be less economical. But if you can share the fuel costs with your passenger, your overall expenditure will be less. Carpooling is very popular in America. But the British are only just taking it on board.

Mandy Weston

Mandy is an ex-mechanic, with 22 years’ experience in the motor industry. As an in-house motoring expert, Mandy is the go-to woman for any relevant questions that our customers have; both garages and drivers. From specific problems with your car to general maintenance, Mandy is a reliable source of information and advice. Her passion for motoring is a huge factor to her success and the huge wealth of knowledge that she has. She now uses her remarkable grasp of the industry to write regular content for our readers to help drivers understand their car better, avoid being ripped off by garages and save money on their motoring requirements.