In these crazy eco-times, the nation of “being green” is creeping into every aspect of daily life. Some time ago, the automotive industry started to follow suit with increased eco-correctness. Today, virtually all manufacturers are looking to offer pro-eco solutions.
Right now, this means that downsizing, or switching to a hybrid or electric vehicle is very popular. However, not everyone can afford to change their vehicle, so many drivers have learned to improve their eco driving. This is also becoming very popular and it refers to driving techniques that can help protect the environment through reduced fuel usage.
Eco driving can take some getting use to, but you will need to refill the tank less frequently in return
There are, of course, people who assume that eco driving is utter nonsense and just a piece of fiction made up by larger corporations to improve their PR. However, the real truth is that just making these changes to your driving style will make a noticeable dent in your fuel expenses - so let’s explore some practical eco driving tips!
Does your car need to be in the best possible condition
A car is a complicated machine, made up of various different elements. Every worn out, defective or otherwise broken element can influence the vehicle’s overall ability to function. This includes seemingly unimportant things such as wheel bearings, shock absorbers, air or fuel filters. If the subsystems do not work properly, it is difficult to stay within the initial fuel consumption limits intended by the manufacturer.
This is why it is not worth skipping or saving on car service. Used oil, muddy hold-ups in your air filter or worn-out shock absorbers will never help you reduce your fuel consumption but they will diminish the car’s overall lifespan.
Furthermore, don’t forget simple things, either, like checking your tyre pressure is correct and the treads are not too shallow. As far as saving fuel goes, you should also choose products with a low rolling resistance - this is very common with summer tyres, for example
Is there anything wrong with heating your engine during a standstill?
There is a common belief among drivers that, before setting off on a trip and especially in the winter season, the engine should be turned on for several minutes to heat up the oil and better distribute it in the system. However, manufacturers often point out that this is simply not true.
There’s no need to ‘heat up’ modern engines
Manual’s regularly state that you should move off as soon as the engine starts. It is better to start the engine, fasten your seat belt, turn on the radio and go. Don’t waste time waiting uselessly for an engine to heat up while sitting idle. The synthetic motor oil used today has an excellent viscosity and does not require any additional heating.
Furthermore, a loaded engine heats up much faster, than compared to an idle, unproductive state. When the engine is cold, the gas control has to enrich the fuel mixture and, consequently, an idle cold engine actively uses more fuel in neutral, compared to a heated engine that is in use. Obviously. You should not fall into another extreme and overdrive your cold engine at high speed - everything should be done at reasonable rates.
Which gear should you use?
Eco driving experts state that you should switch to a higher gear as soon as possible. Most of the drive force in today’s engines is available as early as 2,000 RPM in diesel engines and 2,500 in petrol engines. When these values are met, you can safely change gear.
You shouldn’t be afraid of low revs. They help you to save fuel.
If we are talking about high-speed engines, the rev-counter needle should not be kept on the right too long, because it will cause increased fuel consumption, which is not beneficial. The previously mentioned method of utilising the gearbox enables the engine to work faster. This makes it possible to drive more smoothly, optimising the speed and minimising the load, all of which helps to optimise your fuel usage.
Is it better to speed up gently or dynamically?
It may seem counterintuitive but, if you want to save fuel, it is better to speed up dynamically and shortly, as opposed to starting the car sluggishly and stroking the accelerator. Experts advice to press the accelerator down to ¾ of its maximum position and switch gears quickly.
How to drive more smoothly?
The rules that are regularly repeated during driving courses apply perfectly: you should always keep an appropriate distance from the car in front of you, respect the rules of the road, avoid sudden maneuvers and reduce your speed when you see a red light on the crossroad, even if it’s still far away.
Always slow down when approaching red lights at an intersection
In general, it is worthwhile to predict and anticipate the actions of other road users, while also driving predictably yourself. It may have you to drive more smoothly, without frequent speed-ups or periods of sudden braking, which increase fuel consumption. Aside from the eco driving benefits, smoother driving is simply safer, as well.
Is motor braking worthwhile?
Yes, absolutely. Thanks to this, we can extend the lifespan of the brake blocks and discs.
Simply speaking, motor braking occurs when we take our foot off of the accelerator without using the clutch. This closes the throttle, so the engine receives no fuel and is powered purely by the energy generated by the rotation of the wheels.
This, naturally, will work until the revs of the engine fall to an idle level. Then, the engine will start to receive fuel in order to avoid being cut off. To make sure this doesn’t happen, you should switch to a lower gear. It is not true that your car consumes less fuel in neutral than when motor braking and, furthermore, the pistons without fuel devastate the engine compartment. This has proven to be true in the case of two-stroke engines, found in the likes of Wartburg and Trabant cars. In these cars, the fuel also served as a grease and, consequently, motor braking could have been disastrous. Thankfully, motor technology has improved and this is no longer the case.
Start eco driving!
Both green driving enthusiasts and eco driving experts will mention other less important rules, such as avoiding excessive loads on the vehicle (especially in regards to useless objects in the boot), using alternative transport for journeys shorter than 2.5 miles and limiting how often the air conditioning is used. If you do any of the eco driving tips presented here, you will stop your engine from wasting fuel and, as you may have guessed, the larger the engine is, the higher the savings.
Adapting a new driving style can bring about new results
We have even conducted our own test. We filled up a 70-litre tank in a mid-range sedan, equipped with a 3-litre diesel engine. This diesel car was driven on typical roads but, this time, we applied the eco driving tips and principles discussed here. Normally, this car’s tank can enable an 497 mile (800 km) drive. This time, the tank wasn’t empty until the mileage reached 528 miles (850 km). If we make a habit of eco driving, the score will undoubtedly get even better!