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How to save money and fuel by ‘eco-driving’

We all need to get from A to B, but how can we do so and do the least damage to the planet as possible? Here are seven simple changes you can make to ensure your driving is more eco-friendly.


Eco-driving is the art of driving your car more efficiently. By employing a few simple tips, you can help increase your car’s fuel efficiency, helping you to save money and protect the planet. To get you started, here are seven easy changes you can make…

1. Plan your journey

Eco-friendly driving begins before you even get behind the wheel of your car. Most journeys you make are along repeat routes – those you make time and again. Identify where and at what time of day traffic is likely to be heaviest and slowest and avoid them where possible – any time you sit in slow or stationary traffic, you’re burning more fuel than if you drive straight through.

On longer journeys and travel to new places, it’s harder to predict where traffic will slow you down, but the same rule applies: consider the time of day you’ll be driving in built-up areas and research as fully as possible the route you’ll take. Getting lost is an obvious enemy of eco-driving, adding extra miles to your journey and burning extra fuel in the process.

Always consider alternative routes. Route B may be longer than Route A in terms of miles covered, but if it’s less congested it will save you time and fuel.

And be aware that short journeys are less fuel-efficient than long – it takes a car up to 8km before the engine begins to run at maximum efficiency.

2. Don’t hang around

It used to be that older cars would need time to ‘warm up’ before you could drive away. Happily, modern cars don’t work that way. Once you’ve started the engine, you’re good to go. Don’t sit around revving it and polluting the atmosphere, simply check your mirrors and head off on your way.

3. Don’t be idle

An idling vehicle – the act of leaving a vehicle’s engine running while it is stationary – isn’t great for the environment, your car’s engine or your fuel consumption. To combat this, the RAC recommends the motorists turn off their engines if they think they will remain stationary for any more than two minutes, but they warn against doing this repeatedly in a short space of time, particularly in older models of car.

Many new cars are now fitted with a ‘stop-start’ system. A stop-start system automatically shuts down the engine when the vehicle is stationary and restarts as soon as the accelerator is pressed, this reduces the amount of time the engine spends idling, thereby reducing fuel consumption and emissions. If your car has this feature then make sure it’s turned on. 


If you’d like to read more on stop/start technology then please click here.


4. Travel light

A heavier vehicle burns more fuel. While it’s not always possible to travel light, it pays to check that your car isn’t carrying any unnecessary weight before you embark on your journey. Remove heavy roof racks when not in use to improve your aerodynamics, which in turn improves your fuel efficiency. And check the boot for any bulky business you’d completely forgotten was in there – bags and anything else. 


Find out about the pros and cons of hybrid and electric vehicles in this article.


5. Check your tyres regularly

Servicing is included in your Motability Scheme lease and a regular service will ensure that your car runs more efficiently. However, you can play your part by making sure your tyres are correctly inflated. A car’s engine has to work harder to turn under-inflated tyres, burning more fuel and emitting more pollutants in the process. The correct tyre pressure is usually printed on the inside of the driver’s door.

Regularly check your four tyres with a pressure gauge and make sure your tyres are inflated to the recommended number. If you can not check your tyres yourself and there is nobody who can do it for you then you may need to contact Kwik Fit for help, or visit one of their centres. They will also be able to inflate your tyres to the correct pressure too.

6. Drive slower – and smarter

How you drive your car has significant implications on your fuel consumption. Driving at 70mph uses up to 9% more fuel than at 60mph, and up to 15% more than at 50mph.

Maintaining a steady speed whenever possible is the key here, because constant stopping and starting is the enemy of efficiency. Drive at a steady speed, be aware of the traffic ahead and anticipate the need to slow down and stop in good time. When you do brake, do so smoothly, then accelerate in the same manner.

If the situation allows and you have the option, use cruise control whenever possible, and if you drive a manual transmission car, practice shifting gears smoothly to maximise your fuel efficiency.

7. Press ECON not Air Con

Many modern cars feature an ‘ECO’ button, sometimes called ‘ECON’. While this varies from model to model, ECO mode generally makes the engine and accelerator pedal less responsive to inputs, thus helping to reduce your fuel consumption.

Click ECO on but keep your Air Con off unless you absolutely have no other option. Your car’s air conditioning increases the demands on your engine, forcing it to work harder and burn more fuel. If it’s hot, open the windows for while before you set off to bring the temperature down. Your passengers, your car and the planet will thank you.

About the Scheme

The Motability Scheme provides an affordable way for people with disabilities to lease a car, scooter or powered wheelchair in exchange for their mobility allowance. Insurance, breakdown assistance, servicing and maintenance is already arranged and included in the price you pay, so you can enjoy the freedom that comes with a worry-free lease.

Related links

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