Car efficency

On Monday night last I was driving to meet friends at the local bowling alley.  I was sticking to the limit – 30mph (dead on) mainly because the woman behind in her shiny mod’d car was driving 3″ from my rear and flashing her lights at me.  Eventually fed up of failing to harass me properly she sped past and zoomed up the nearby hill.  It set me thinking about how agression fuels the petrol industry in crisp pound notes – for those nitpickers saying ‘well her 50mph is more efficent’ well its not, it was uphill acceleration 😉

Her biggest mistake was to try and harass me on the road.  It’s not going to make the blindest difference, especially since I know the area.  Unfortunately she didn’t get caught by the mobile speed trap (which she braked heavily for before accelerating again), but it gave me a great deal of pleasure to catch up with her a few minutes later as she was stuck at the traffic lights.  For all that accelerating, like the tortoise and the hare my slow and steady hadn’t risked life and limb, I was calm and composed when I arrived at my destination and most of all, it had made absolutely no difference to my time of arrival.  It didn’t stop me pulling up tight behind her and flashing my lights (re-enacting her agression) and smiling sweetly until she had a hissy fit in front of me.  Road rage does make me laugh.

I’ve noticed that unless it’s fairly late at night and you’re really pushing your speed to local destinations, you’re unlikely to make a difference in the time of arrival, so enjoy your drive and take it at a proper green speed.  More about that later.

Obviously there’s a fair few things you should consider when thinking about how green your car is.  Ideally you car should be small, low powered and light.  The lighter the better because the engine does less work and hopefully is more efficent.  Keeping it serviced regularly and checked over by a professional is a good idea… but only if you find a reputable garage.

My own car is a 1.3ltr fiesta finesse.  I believe the optimal miles per gallon is somewhere around 45-50mpg.  I achieve with fairly unaverage driving methods (these days) about 45mpg – that’s doing 70mph on a motorway when I feel the need to rush, and 50mph when I’m not in a rush (thats the unaverage part).  So lets see if I can cut it down further…

I’m taking out all the extra stuff I usually carry (the rubbish in my rear passenger footwells for instance) and cutting down the maintenance stuff I carry in the boot – along with mats and rear parcel shelf – it all costs me money when I go-a-driving.

Some people goto extremes by taking out the rear seats.  I don’t mind a bit of extra hoovering in the back (I rarely have rear passengers) but it’s good to sometimes actually have the ability to give someone a lift home!

Next comes the in driving experience.  Some hot tips:

  • Don’t use anything electrical (yeah right, like I’ll drive without my stereo!)
  • Keep windows wound up, sunroof closed.  Aircon off (actually windows open are better than aircon for fuel efficency – see mythbusters for proof)
  • Avoid doing unnecessary manouvers when the engine is cold.  Park up facing the right direction the night before and don’t run your engine to warm up unless you really need to (defrosting etc)
  • Don’t accelerate up hills – maintain a steady speed
  • Try to stick to around 50-55mph for the best fuel efficency
  • Reduce breaking wear and tear by anticipating traffic flow or road conditions and break gently over a greater distance.
  • Use hill inclines for natural breaking
  • Don’t coast, it’s dangerous.

Ideally you should go out and buy a rediculously expensive green car – it won’t save you money but it’ll save the enviroment…  meantime for us poor folk just work on your driving technique.

So lets see if I can make a noticeable difference.  With really good techniques I should be able to push it to 50mpg, and if I reach further than that I know I’m doing something right.

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