Eco- friendly driving: your essential guide

Kwik Fit | Thursday 23rd January 2020 11:59am

Car made out of leaves

The amount of fuel you burn when you drive has a lot to do with the type of car you own, but regardless of the make and model of vehicle you have, there are steps you can take to be more eco-friendly on the roads. Here are some of the best ways to cut your fuel usage and vehicle emissions, and to save money in the process.

Make sure your car is well maintained

Getting your car serviced on a regular basis is key to ensuring it runs efficiently. Itís recommended that you book your car in for a full service every year or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first. If you decide to change your engine oil between services, make sure you use the right specification of oil.

If you drive a diesel car, take care to follow the manufacturerís recommendations to keep the diesel particulate filter (DPF) in good working order. This filter is designed to capture and store soot emitted by your exhaust. Periodically, the soot it traps has to be burned off in order to regenerate the filter. A blocked DPF wonít function as well and can make your car more polluting. It can also affect engine performance.

Another tip is to ensure your tyre pressure is correct at all times. When tyres are under-inflated, more of the rubber comes into contact with the road, and this means your carís engine has to work harder to keep the wheels turning.

Think about what you put in your car

If your car boot has become a dumping ground for sports equipment, gardening gear or anything else, itís time to have a clear out. Carrying extra weight in your vehicle means burning more fuel, so try to travel as lightly as possible.

If you have a roof rack, make an effort to keep an aerodynamic shape when packing it. The extra drag created by items on your roof will add to your fuel consumption. When youíre not using your roof rack, consider taking it off your car. This might seem like a hassle, but it will save you fuel.

Plan your journey

As well as adding time and stress to your journey, getting lost can add to your fuel bill. So, make sure you plan your route carefully if youíre travelling somewhere unfamiliar. Check the traffic news before setting off too so that you can stay away from areas of heavy traffic. If you can avoid being on the roads during peak times, do.

Think about combining short trips in your car as well. For example, if you have various errands to run locally, try to do them all in one go. Cold starts use more fuel, so it pays to reduce the number of journeys you make where possible.

Don't idle before setting off

Switching your engine on before you intend to set off is bad news for the environment and for your wallet. So, donít turn your engine on while youíre setting your sat nav or adjusting your seats or mirrors. Make sure youíre ready to go first.

Similarly, donít turn your engine on in winter to de-ice your car. Use a scraper to remove the ice instead.

When it comes to driving, take it smoothly. By accelerating gently and anticipating the road ahead so that you donít have to brake sharply, you can keep your vehicle emissions down. If you decelerate early ahead of traffic lights or when approaching a queue of traffic, you might be able to keep rolling rather than stopping your car and starting again. This is more fuel efficient.

Change up your gears earlier as well, rather than revving your engine too much. Try switching to a higher gear at an engine speed of around 2,500 for a petrol car, or 2,000 for a diesel.

Sticking to the speed limit is of course essential in keeping you safe and on the right side of the law, but did you know it can also help to minimise your fuel bill? Going faster burns more petrol or diesel. For example, driving at 80mph can use up to 25 per cent more fuel than travelling at 70mph.

Another tip is to pay attention to your air conditioning. There may be times when you have to use it, and itís advisable to switch it on at least once a week to keep the system in good working order. But where possible, leave it off. Your air con system increases the rate at which your car burns fuel. You should also turn off your carís electrics such as your demister fan and rear window heater when you donít need them.

Unless your car is fitted with an automatic stop/start system, donít switch the engine off to save fuel unless you expect to be stationary for around three minutes or more.

Consider car sharing

The techniques listed above will all help you to drive in a more environmentally-friendly way, but what about ditching your car for certain journeys? This is the ultimate in fuel saving. Car sharing can be a great option. Perhaps you can use a spare seat in one of your colleaguesí cars to make the journey to and from work, or you could offer to drive others to save them having to use their vehicles. This cuts the number of cars on the roads, and if everyone chips in some petrol money, it makes journeys cheaper too.

Walk or cycle instead

If youíre only travelling a couple of miles or so, consider whether you really need to use a car at all. You might be able to walk or cycle instead, which is good news for the environment, your budget and your health.

Any facts, figures and prices shown in our blog articles are correct at time of publication.

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