How to drive more sustainably

Better driving tips

Improved driving techniques not only improve driver safety, but also reduce fuel consumption and therefore greenhouse gas emissions. But the benefits don't stop there - with the cost of fuel continuing to rise, every litre you can save will save you money.

Here’s how

• EcoDriving is smooth driving - it avoids excessive acceleration or braking. It requires a mindset and takes practice and concentration. It will actually reduce your stress levels while driving.

• Maintain the vehicle - a poorly tuned vehicle can use up to 50% more fuel. Europcar has strict maintenance procedures for all vehicles on fleet. For your personal vehicle, make sure you have your vehicle serviced regularly and ask that it be tuned for economic driving. Changing air, fuel and oil filters regularly is essential for efficient engine running. Wheel alignment is crucial to avoid drag from tyres that are not running true.

• Tyre Pressure - one of the simplest changes you can make is to increase tyre pressure to reduce rolling resistance and tyre wear. For most sedans pressures of around 36 psi or 252 kpa will reduce fuel consumption by about 3%. Underinflated tyres cause damage as the sidewalls flex as the wheel rotates and the flexing absorbs energy hence more fuel use. Underinflated tyre walls can become damaged and can lead to tyre failure. Tyres will have a shorter life and discarded tyres add to pollution.

• Plan your trip - the shortest route may not necessarily be the most economical. Consider traffic congestion hot spots and times. A freeway may offer a free flowing run compared to stop start motoring on suburban streets. Hilly routes will consume more fuel especially if you are using cruise control.

• Stay back from the vehicle in front - by increasing your following distance you will increase your vision around vehicles in front and you will avoid the need to react to the frequently changing speeds of heavy traffic flows - the concertina effect that involves excessive accelerating and braking.

• Look up to scan for hazards - and to improve your anticipation of traffic situations that cause stop start motoring.

• Reduce engine idling - if stopped in traffic such as at road works or at railway crossings turn off your engine but only if safe to do so. Remember an idling engine delivers zero kilometres per litre.

• Vehicles do not need to be run at idle to warm up the motor - it is better to move off immediately which will help the engine to reach its normal operating temperature sooner. A cold idling engine produces more harmful emissions such as carbon monoxide.

Accelerate smartly - When moving off, accelerate smartly, up-shifting through manual gears early and manually shifting the auto transmission to regulate the up-shifts through your accelerator, avoiding high revs but reaching your optimum speed quickly. Sluggish driving uses more fuel.

• Reduce wind drag affects - by removing items such as roof racks and roof top cargo carriers to streamline your vehicle as much as possible. Wind resistance increases dramatically at higher speeds and fuel use.

• Remove excess and heavy items - from your vehicle. More weight means higher rolling resistance so increase tyre pressures when fully loaded - 40 psi for light vehicles, utes and SUVs.

• Cruise control - very useful for maintaining an even speed especially when driving automatics which will kick down increasing revs, sometimes with only a small increase in accelerator pedal. BUT cruise control can't see upgrades and hills and will usually change down part way up a grade causing high revs and fuel use. On undulating or hilly roads avoid cruise control and anticipate the climb by smoothly increasing speed to assist the climb easing off near the top so that braking is not needed on the down slope.

• Avoid the use of air conditioners where possible - at slow speeds wind down the windows but at higher speeds use the air conditioner with windows closed to reduce turbulence and resistance.

Reduce your highway speeds - When travelling with a loaded vehicle or towing over the holiday period reduce your highway speeds. Driving at 110kph uses up to 25% more fuel than driving at 90kph. Check tyre pressures on the towed vehicle to reduce rolling resistance as you have with the towing vehicle.

Eco friendly travel information courtesy of Murcotts Eco DrivingTM programs.

Some extra eco driving tips from us:

• Don't brake hard for corners and accelerate out. Slow, gently, negotiate and exit the corner on a light throttle.

• Got an iPhone? Install a fuel saving application like MyMPG that let's you know when you're wasting fuel.

• Always use the recommended grade of motor oil. Using the manufacturer's recommended lubricant can improve fuel efficiency by 1-2%. Higher quality motor oils can also help your engine operate more efficiently

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