Running a car

10 tips to save money by driving more economically

Did you know that making a few simple changes to the way you drive could help you reduce your gas bill? Here are 10 tips to help you save dollars at the pump:

  1. Basic maintenance

    Cars, like all machines, work best when they’re properly maintained. And you don’t need to be a mechanic - it’s the little things like getting the right tire pressure that make most difference to fuel economy.

    That’s because under-inflated tires cause more rolling resistance and friction, and that means the engine has to work harder.

    Get your car serviced on schedule, and make sure you regularly change your engine oil and pump up your tires to keep everything running efficiently.
  2. Lose weight

    If you’re one of those people who treat your car like a giant handbag or a storage unit, this might help.

    Any extra weight you’re lugging around has an impact on fuel economy. So what do you really need in the trunk? If it’s not required for your journey then take it out.

    Think about aerodynamics too - rooftop carriers and cycle racks create more wind drag which means the engine has to work harder.

  3. Plan ahead

    Simple one this, but if you get lost or take the long way, you’re using unnecessary fuel. Your dashboard GPS won’t always get it right either, so it’s worth looking at Google Maps before you set out to check the best route.

  4. Turn off the AC in town

    Air conditioning sucks up power (and therefore fuel) when you’re travelling at low speeds around town. It’s worth switching off if you don’t really need it.

    However, when you’re driving at higher speeds and particularly on the motorway, the impact that air conditioning will have on fuel economy is pretty negligible so don’t feel guilty about keeping cool!

    Electrical gizmos in the car like the stereo, heated rear windscreen and defogger will always use more fuel so switch these off when you don’t need them.

  5. Take it easy

    Smooth driving with gentle acceleration is key to keeping your fuel economy average high.

    Look as far ahead as possible so you can read the road and try to avoid unnecessary braking, which can be due to not doing enough observation. You’re using fuel to accelerate, and wasting it if you have to brake straight away.

  6. Keep rolling in traffic

    Stop-start traffic is not good for fuel economy, so keep the car rolling if you can.

    Try to manage your speed according to traffic. Even if you’re moving at walking pace, the car wants to move forward (it’s called inertia), which keeps you rolling instead of coming to standstill and having to move off again.

  7. Don’t coast!

    If you drive a manual car, someone’s probably going to suggest coasting - letting the car role in neutral - to save fuel. This isn’t a good idea because you’re not in full control of the car if it’s freewheeling in neutral: you lose engine braking and the ability to accelerate out of tricky situations.

    There’s also nothing to be gained from coasting in modern injection cars, unlike old-fashioned carburetor cars, because a modern car’s ECU (engine control unit) cuts the fuel supply the second you take your foot off the accelerator.

  8. Avoid idling

    Turn off your engine when your car is parked. It takes only a few seconds worth of fuel to restart your car - so if you know you’ll be waiting more than a few minutes, it’s worth it to switch the engine off (especially if you’re running the AC).

    However, turning the engine on and off excessively could increase the wear on your starter, so be wise about it.

  9. Keep to the speed limits

    It’s simple - the faster you go, the greater your fuel consumption. Keeping to the speed limits will keep you safe and out of trouble, but it will also help keep your gas bill down.

    On the expressway, cruising at 120km/h rather than the 100km/h speed limit can use as much as 25% more fuel in some cars.

  10. Keep a record and do some math

    Most cars will give you a computer read out of the average and instant fuel consumption. Keep a note of this so you can see if you’re improving and by how much. This will help you work out what makes the most difference.


Honor joined ingenie in 2014 and is in charge of words on the Young Driver's Guide and blog. She started learning to drive last year, at the age of 24.