Fuel efficient driving

Fuel efficient driving, sometimes known as ecodriving, is an approach to driving that is ideally suited for anyone who cares about saving money on fuel and minimising their carbon impact on the environment.

It is estimated that with modern engine technology, using smart, smooth and safe driving techniques can lead to average fuel savings of 5-10% and reduce the rate of wear and tear on your car.

Before setting out:

Regular Servicing

Have your car serviced regularly and according to the manufacturer's schedule. This will help maintain the engine's efficiency. Also make sure that you use the correct specification of engine oil.

Check tyre pressures

Check tyre pressures regularly and before long journeys. Under-inflated tyres are dangerous and also increase fuel consumption by creating more rolling resistance.

Your manufacturer's handbook should give information on correct tyre pressures for your car. Note that some handbooks will also advise on tyre pressures for heavier loads.

Remove unnecessary accessories and items

Roof racks, bike carriers and other roof accessories significantly affect your car's aerodynamics and reduce fuel efficiency. It is a good idea to remove them when not in use.

Also remember that extra weight means extra fuel, so it is best to remove any items from the boot that are not necessary to your journey.

Plan ahead

It is always advisable to consult a map before any long or unfamiliar journey. Satellite navigation systems can be useful, but they don't always present you with the most common sense route.

You should plan your journeys to avoid congestion peak times. Many people forget to allow time for roadworks that might be active – you can check on the roadworks in Ceredigion by visiting our roadworks page. For longer journeys it is advisable to listen to the traffic news.

Consider using public transport for short journeys

Several short journeys can use more fuel than one long journey covering the same length. Some engines use almost twice as much fuel in the first few miles whilst the engine warms up. Some catalytic converters can take up to five miles to reach peak efficiency.

However, idling the engine before a journey, which many people are tempted do in cold weather, is not as effective in warming up the engine as people think, and it wastes more fuel than driving straight away. The AA, for example, advise not to start the engine until you are ready to go.

Behind the wheel:

Drive smoothly

Anticipate road conditions so that you drive smoothly. Avoid sharp acceleration and heavy braking.

Make the most of the vehicle's momentum. Read the road ahead and, when you know you have to slow down soon, for a speed limit marker for example, decelerate smoothly by releasing the accelerator in good time and leaving the car in gear. If you need further deceleration, apply the brakes early and gently. This not only reduces fuel consumption, it prolongs the life of your brakes and is safer.

Change up earlier

Change gear as soon as possible without labouring the engine – try changing up at an engine speed of around 2000 rpm in a diesel car or around 2500 rpm in a petrol car. This can make a large difference to fuel consumption.

Manage your speed

It is the law that you should drive within the speed limit, and there are obvious safety reasons for this. There are also economic benefits to driving within the speed limit. According to the Department for Transport, driving at 70mph uses up to 9% more fuel than at 60mph and up to 15% more than at 50mph.

Manage your electrics

Any electrical load increases fuel consumption. You should turn off your heated rear windscreen, demister blowers and headlights when you don't need to use them.

Air conditioning increases fuel consumption at low speeds. At higher speeds the effects are less noticeable. On hot days, it is more economical to open the windows when driving around town and save the air conditioning for high speed driving. Note that you should run the air conditioning at least once a week throughout the year to maintain the good condition of the system.

Important safety note:

Coasting – rolling downhill or approaching a junction with the car out of gear – is not advised because the driver does not have full control of the vehicle. When coasting, you lose the ability to suddenly accelerate out of tricky situations, and you also lose engine braking, which takes some of the load off the brakes on down hill stretches and helps to avoid brake fade (overheated brakes require harder pedal pressures to stop the vehicle). Changes in vehicle fuel systems mean that coasting will not save you fuel either.