Driving Tips to Reduce your Car’s Environmental Impact


Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 20 years or so, you’ll probably be aware that mankind’s use of fossil fuels is the driving force behind our negative  impact on the environment. Whilst scaremongering media outlets may spell doom for our planet in the next 50 years, there are plenty of other groups who deny that the problem exists at all. Whilst I’m certainly not qualified to weigh-in on this debate and provide an exact timeline of when we’ll submerge Europe in the briny deep and burn Africa to a crisp, I can provide a few tips for those looking to reduce their carbon footprint. The rise of the hybrid car and now fully-fledged EVs is certainly a step in the right direction, but in this harsh economic environment not everyone can afford a new vehicle, even with the generous tax incentives available. British car dealer JT Hughes recently challenged a local driving legend Colin Price to wring the greatest mileage he could from a diesel car (1.6 Dtec Honda Civic). The result: 101.4 mpg! That’s a 30% improvement over the real-world economy of 70 mpg. In the spirit of environmental and economic friendliness, I’ve compiled a list of driving techniques that will improve fuel economy, saving your wallet and saving the world (potentially). Basic Maintenance and Driving Tips

  • It’s fairly obvious but unnecessary weight in the car will increase fuel consumption. Are you realistically going to have an impromptu nine holes on a Tuesday afternoon? Probably not. Remove that set of golf clubs weighing down your car’s rear-end and increase fuel economy.
  • Service your car regularly. The better working order your car’s in the more you’ll gain from all the tips in this article.
  • Opt for thinner oil as it requires less energy to turn over the engine.
  • Reduce drag: remove unused bike and roof racks and always drive with the windows closed. Increased drag means decreased economy.
  • Ensure your tyre pressures are correct: too high means an increased likelihood of wear, too low increases drag.
  • Wear comfortable, thin-soled shoes. Recognising how the car is reacting to your right foot is the key to driving economically. A heavy work boot will decrease sensitivity and make this impossible.
  • Only drive when absolutely necessary. Shorter journeys don’t allow your engine to reach optimum working temperature and as such they are comparatively less fuel-efficient than longer ones. Taking public transport or riding a bike when you’re just nipping down to the shops will save a lot more fuel than you might imagine.

More Advanced Tips

  • Aggressive driving is the enemy of fuel economy. Driving reactively and anticipating the actions of other drivers puts you in control of your car and your fuel economy. This will require you to see further down the road than you might usually, so leave plenty of space between you and the car in front.
  • Decreasing your speed may not play to the thrill-seeker in you but a faster car equals increased drag.
  • Don’t use your brakes. No, I’m not insane, but if you drive more slowly and defensively there will be less need for you to use your brakes. Every time you apply the brakes you’re wasting valuable momentum and turning fuel into brake dust and heat.
  • The shortest route doesn’t necessarily mean the most fuel-efficient one. Having to brake often and not giving the engine adequate warming up time should be taken into consideration when planning a journey.

A Word on Coasting

  • Coasting is the act of keeping the clutch depressed whilst making a turn. As the engine is disengaged you have less control of the car and thus this is a potentially dangerous manoeuvre. Admittedly it does decrease fuel consumption, but the potential risks are too great to consider this a viable technique.

  Whilst on a global environmental scale these techniques may seem like turning up to an earthquake with a dustpan and brush, not only are these practices more fuel efficient but they will also decrease premature wear on your car and teach you to be a more considerate, cautious and responsible driver.      

Jamie Waddell
Jamie Waddell is a men's lifestyle, technology and fitness writer based in London.