Not able to completely give up a car? Then check out these tips for driving more efficiently – and so saving on fuel, greenhouse gas emissions, and money too!
These boots are made for walking
The first thing to consider, of course, is whether you really need to take the car.
Could you walk or cycle instead, or use public transport for longer trips?
If your town does not offer good public transport options, pressure your legislators to make them viable.
Join a carpool, and take and offer rides. This way you share the use – and the cost – of fuel and reduce congestion on the roads.
Don't drive aggressively. Rapid acceleration and sudden breaking will not only wear out your car more quickly, but it wastes fuel. Driving at consistent speeds and can save up to 33% in fuel!
Observe the speed limit. Although each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel efficiency at a different speeds, efficiency generally decreases rapidly at speeds above 100km/h (60 mph). This can give you a fuel economy benefit of up to 23%!
Keep the A/C for the highway. At lower speeds, open the windows: although this increases the drag and reduces fuel efficiency, it is better then using the air conditioner at low speeds (between 50 and 65 km/h (35-40 mph)). Using your air conditioner on "Max" all the time can rise your fuel consumption by 5-25%.
Don’t idle your car. Turn off your engine if you are stopping for more than a minute or two. and park your car and go into the restaurant rather than idling in the drive-through. Cars with larger engines tend to waste more gas at idle than do cars with smaller engines.
Combine your trips. Several short trips taken while your car’s engine is cold can use twice as much fuel and produce twice the amount of greenhouse gas emissions as a longer multi-purpose trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm.
Only use the 4-wheel drive when needed. Engaging all four wheels in your car makes the engine work harder, making fuel consumption rise. Use it only when really needed.
Lighten the load. An extra weight of just 45 kg (100 pounds) can increase your fuel consumption by 2%. Smaller vehicles are even more affected by this. So don't carry unnecessary items in your car and remove unneeded racks (for bikes, skis, etc) when not in use – they not only add weight, but also increase air resistance.
Keep your car running smoothly
Like us, cars need regular check-ups and fine-tuning.
Get your car serviced regularly. A well-maintained car is more efficient – and safer. Fixing a car that is out of tune can improve efficiency by an average of 4%, though results vary based on the kind of repair and how well it is done. Fixing a serious maintenance problem, such as a faulty oxygen sensor, can improve your mileage by as much as 40%!!
Ensure your tyres are pumped to the proper pressure. Full tyres can save up to 100 kg of greenhouse gas each year and 3% of your fuel costs. This is because by rolling more easily, they reduce fuel consumption. Full tyres also extend tyre life and improve safety.
Check your car’s air filter monthly. Replacing a clogged air filter can improve your car's fuel efficiency by as much as 10%! Replacing a dirty air filter will also protect your engine – yet another way you may save money.
Use the recommended grade of motor oil. Use the manufacturer's recommended grade of motor oil. Also, look for motor oil that says "Energy Conserving" on the API performance symbol to be sure it contains friction-reducing additives.
A variety of renewable fuel blends and fuels with greenhouse benefits are becoming available.
Choosing a fuel-efficient car is the most important fuel economy measure you can take. This applies when you're renting a car too!
Do you actually need to buy a car? Car sharing is now an option in many cities around the world, freeing you from the cost and responsibility of car ownership while still giving you the flexibility to drive when you need to.
Think small. Generally speaking, smaller cars are lighter and get better mileage.
Consider a hybrid. Not only do hybrids give you immediate savings at the pump, but some countries offer tax reductions for people who use gas-saving cars. Check out your local legislation.
Consider a diesel car. Diesel can cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to 20% relative to petrol.
What about a motorcycle or a scooter? These are cheaper and can be great options if used safely.
More efficient and more climate friendly - hybrid electric vehicles win on both counts even with majority fossil fuelled electricity grids and will only get better as more renewable energy sources are used for power generation.