Automotive: How to drive your car while using and polluting less

How do you use less gas on the road (and pollute less) when prices are at their highest? Vehicle maintenance, smooth driving: The solutions are basic but require some practice.

Start by driving less


We don’t necessarily think about it, but the easiest way to save fuel is not to take your car
», emphasizes Guillaume Sabiron, from the French Institute for Petroleum New Energies (Ifpen). And therefore to travel by public transport, by bicycle or by carpooling. This is all the more true for short journeys where the aftertreatment systems (catalytic converters) remain cold: you seriously pollute the air in your neighborhood by picking up bread. It is primarily a question of succeeding in changing one’s habits.

Overall, the International Energy Agency (IEA) recommends more support for public transport, the generalization of teleworking, alternating traffic and car-free Sundays in large cities.

Think eco-driving

According to Ifpen, to save 15 to 20% fuel and thus several hundred euros per year, you must adapt your driving style.

It is :

– Reduce speed, for example from 120 to 110 km/h on the motorway.

– Keep a constant speed, if possible with cruise control (5% saving).

– Drive at a measured speed (approx. 2,000 rpm for a diesel, 2,500 for a gasoline engine).

– Anticipate the braking phases. This also protects the brakes and tires.

– Switch off the engine in the event of a longer stop (from 10 seconds, excluding traffic jams), or take advantage of “Stop & Start” on a new car (the engine switches off if you are in neutral and release the clutch). This saves 18% fuel in traffic.

– Activate the “eco” mode, if available: it reduces consumption by up to 3%.

These tips are not necessarily connected, it all depends on the use and the travels. Most of these tips are also valid for an electric car and preserve its autonomy.

To take stock, you can monitor your consumption on the onboard computer or on an application (such as Geco Air).

Some reflexes to adopt

– Reduce the load by emptying the trunk of unnecessary items.

– Remove the roof racks if not in use: They add up to 2% fuel consumption on a highway trip, and a roof box much more. A draft box has smaller air intakes.

– Close the windows at high speed (+5% fuel consumption on the motorway).

– But also avoid setting the air conditioning to 16º when it is 40º outside (up to 13% saving), or on short trips. When starting, it is better to drive a little to air out the car before turning on the air conditioning. And park in the shade.

– Disconnect the electrical aids (USB plug, etc.) which cause a slight overconsumption (+0.7%).

Abandon false good ideas

Preconceived ideas or false good tips passed on by friends… Here are the ideas that circulate but can be dropped:

– Disengage the clutch and drive in neutral: the engine continues to run. It is better to keep going by letting off the accelerator and downshifting (use the engine brake) when you want to slow down. This also avoids particle emissions associated with braking.

– Sticking to the rear of a vehicle to take advantage of its suction is obviously very dangerous.

– Overinflating your tires accelerates their wear.

– Switching off the ignition when driving downhill also switches off the brake assist.

– It is not useful to warm up the engine for more than 30 seconds before departure.

– Go to the pump early in the morning: the petrol may be a little denser because it is colder than at the end of the day, but the variation is negligible.

– Reprogramming your engine is still risky. Additionally, none of the accessories that promise savings have shown any real effectiveness in tests conducted by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

– Switch to bioethanol: this fuel costs less and limits emissions somewhat. But the use of land, water and chemicals to grow plants that will be converted into fuel is condemned by NGOs.

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