Everybody knows that driving in a more efficient manner saves fuel and reduces our trips to the garage, saving us money as a result. Often however, as we go about our busy lives, we do not pay attention to our driving and overlook the simple tips that will make us better and more efficient drivers. These are the following:
- Starting up your car: It is advisable to start the engine without pressing the accelerator. For a petrol car you can put it on gear straight after. For a diesel, wait a few seconds before getting ready to go.
- Accelerating: It has to be smooth and progressive. Use the first gear for starting off only and change to second after two seconds or six metres at the most, as this is a moment of top fuel consumption. Gear changes in a petrol car are to be performed at 1.500 to 2.500 rpm and on a diesel car at 1.300 to 2.000 rpm.
- “Skipping a gear”, i.e. changing from 2nd to 3rd, 3rd to 5th or 3rd to 6th, etc., make for a more efficient use of the gearbox. This applies for both going up or down the gears . We must drive for as long as possible using long gears and keeping the lowest possible number of revolutions..
- Keeping a constant speed: as much as possible we must avoid sudden braking and accelerating as these are the kind of changes that increase fuel consumption. It helps to always stick to the speed limits.
- Prevention: We must always be aware of the traffic and the road around and ahead of us as well as always keeping at a safe braking distance. By always following both of these precautions we can pre-empt any mishap to do with pedestrians, traffic lights or other vehicles on the road and so we will be driving safer and more efficiently.
- Slow down gradually: When slowing down gradually release the accelerator and let the vehicle roll on by its own inertia while staying in gear. It is advisable to stop the car without going down the gears.
- Switch off the engine: If you are planning to stop for over 60 seconds it is better to switch off the engine.
There are other factors that will contribute to economising fuel such as the condition of the tyres, the temperature inside the cabin and the load that the vehicle is carrying as well as taking your car to periodic check ups and using an engine lubricant that is appropriate to our vehicle. Also by following these tips you will also reduce your carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere.
Further tips for heavy vehicles
Regarding heavy vehicles such as trucks, all the above advice still applies but there are other efficiency recommendations which are specific to these type of vehicles. These are:
- Starting up: With a cold engine you should wait between half a minute to a minute for the breaking pressure vessels to reach the appropriate pressure. At this point it is not recommended to go up gears until the working temperature has been reached.
- With a hot engine the gear must be engaged after starting off. We should avoid sudden accelerations and must attempt to join traffic using the longest possible gear. For instance you could join a road in 5th or 6th gear.
- On the road: Always try to keep the lowest possible number of revolutions in the engine while performing the minimum number of gear changes. You should skip gears as many times as necessary.
- The driver should always keep the greatest possible braking distance and should use the vehicle’s own weight to its advantage. This will allow it to roll by inertia while in gear and make all gear changes quickly without losing speed. Also he shouldn’t use the ‘double clutch’ technique.
- Going downhill: You should always drive in the gear that is most adequate to the slope, taking into account the vehicle’s braking systems, the load it is carrying and the weather conditions. At the same time always attempt to perform the smaller number of gear changes possible.
- Going uphill: You should make only the necessary gear changes to achieve the top speed.
- End of the journey: At the end of our journey, switch off the engine as soon as possible in order to avoid sudden accelerations.