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With high fuel prices, it’s worth remembering that one of the easiest and most effective ways to conserve fuel is to change your driving style. Here are eight driving techniques to make your fuel tank go further writes Geraldine Herbert. 

1. Drive More Smoothly

Easing gently on and off the accelerator can have a big impact on the amount of fuel you consume. Imagine you have an open cup of coffee on your dashboard that you don’t want to spill so accelerate and de-accelerate with this in mind for the most fuel-efficient technique. Remember also aggressive driving not only uses more fuel but can increase the wear and tear on your car, too.

8 Fuel-Efficient Driving Techniques

2. Maintain a Steady Speed

Avoid sudden increases and decreases in your speed and use cruise control when on long straight stretches like a motorway. Cruise Control ensures the engine and transmission are operating in the most efficient modes, the more often a car changes speeds, the more that will have an impact on your fuel and your wallet.

8 Fuel-Efficient Driving Techniques

3. Slow Down

Yes, Eamon Ryan, the Minister for Transport was correct when he pointed out that going faster uses more fuel. Reducing your speed from 120 km per hour to 100 km will result in a decrease of more than 20% in your fuel consumption but crucially will add very little to your journey time. 

8 Fuel-Efficient Driving Techniques

4. Read the Road Ahead

Reducing fuel consumption really starts with keeping the car moving at a steady pace so listen to traffic reports. Be aware of the traffic conditions ahead and avoid congestion where possible. Slow down gently when approaching roundabouts and traffic lights and anticipate any reasons that may cause you to stop. Always keep a good distance between you and the car in front.

8 Fuel-Efficient Driving Techniques

5. Don’t Idle

Most modern cars have stop-start technology so the system automatically shuts off the engine when the car is stationary but if you don’t have a car with this feature then avoid idling your engine for more than 10 seconds as this emits more CO2 and uses more fuel than restarting your engine. So for short stops, particularly outside a school, it makes sense to turn the car off in order to minimize fuel use and emissions. It’s not only good for your pocket but also for your health and the environment.

Don't Idle when driving

6. Go Easy on the Air Conditioning

There are times when you cannot avoid using air conditioning while driving, but it can increase your fuel consumption by anything from 10 to 20% so use it sparingly.

Go easy on air conditioning

7. Change up in Gear Early

Don’t linger in low gears, getting into the highest gear you can, at the lowest possible speed, will save you fuel. Fuel consumption is directly related to the gear and speed in which the car is driven so the engine consumes less fuel in 3rd gear than in 1st gear, and less in 5th gear than in 4th gear. 

Change up in Gear Early when Driving

8. Combine Trips

It might seem obvious, but one long journey is far more fuel-efficient than several shorter ones so consolidate your shopping trips and use your car prudently. The more you drive, the more fuel you use, especially on short trips.

Combine Trips


About the Author

Contributing Editor and Motoring Columnist for the Sunday Independent and editor of wheelsforwomen.ie. Geraldine Herbert is also a regular contributor to Good Housekeeping (UK) and to RTÉ, Newstalk, TodayFM and BBC Radio. You can follow Geraldine on Twitter at @GerHerbert1.


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