Fuel Efficient Driving Tips & Techniques

Faced with ever-increasing prices at the fuel pumps, drivers are turning to fuel-efficient cars to help save money. But can they really help you reduce the cost of motoring?

Fuel efficient driving techniques

Demand for smaller, fuel-efficient cars is rising in the US and Europe. Fuel-efficient vehicles use technologies to maximize the amount of energy they eke from the fuel. Most do this by using two types of power – the conventional internal combustion engine, and a battery. The engine, as well as powering the car also generates power for the battery. The battery is used at low speeds, and then the engine takes over. These Hybrid Electric Vehicles are claimed to be able to give you significantly more mileage (up to a third more) than the same amount of fuel in a conventional car.

However, official fuel usage figures are measured in a standardized way which, according to critics doesn’t reflect real life driving – stop/starts, waiting for lights to change, slowing down and speeding up. Tests by the UK consumer group Which? found that eco-cars saved only a modest amount of fuel over their non-eco cousins, equal to savings of around only £20 – £50 ($30 – $70) every 10,000 miles.

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Reducing the amount of fuel you used isn’t just about driving an eco-car; it’s also about how you drive. It’s been shown that your driving style can seriously affect how much fuel you use, and this has given rise to a new breed of driver on our roads – the hypermiler.


Hypermilers drive their cars with fuel efficiency at the top of their agenda. Dedicated hypermilers claim that hypermiling can increase fuel efficiency by as much as 40%. Some of the techniques include using a thinner engine oil so less energy is needed to turn the engine; getting rid of all excess weight or items which cause drag, like roof boxes (even car aerials); parking faced downhill; keeping tires at the correct pressure; and driving in thin soled shoes to increase sensitivity on the accelerator pedal.

You can also decrease fuel use by defensive driving, not being too heavy on the brake, and reducing your speed.

Some hypermilers have adopted techniques borrowed from racing – slipstreaming involves tucking yourself behind the vehicle in front so you’re effectively ‘pulled’ along by that vehicle. This is however extremely dangerous and should not be practiced.

However you decide to save fuel whether it’s by buying a fuel-efficient vehicle or by hypermiling, the most effective way to use less fuel is simple: don’t take the car. Walk, cycle, or use public transport. It’s often a whole lot less stressful than driving, too! -Marklee

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