Eco-driving – environmentally friendly and economical driving

Avoid first gear

First gear is appropriate when starting. First gear gives the car a lot of power (enough to start moving up a steep incline); however, the downside of this is that a lot of petrol is used.

For this reason, it is best to shift to a higher gear as soon as you can (normally after a few metres).

Drive in as high a gear as possible

“High gear” means a high number (5th = high, 1st = low). The lower gears make the car more powerful and therefore result in higher fuel consumption.

Most modern cars can handle 50 km/h in 5th gear. However, if you notice the car getting sluggish or the engine starting to cough, you should shift to a lower gear.

Engine under 3,000 rpm.

Keep the engine under 3,000 rpm.

Also note that older cars that have carburettors instead of fuel injection may get plugged by soot if you drive in too high a gear. (The carburettor engine needs to be “blown out” with a higher rpm).

Accelerate fairly quickly

A car driving constantly at the same speed consumes less fuel than an accelerating car. For this reason, it is best to get up to the speed you want as quickly as you can and not drag out the acceleration phase. But remember to keep the engine below 3,000 rpm.

Avoid the clutch

Only use the clutch when you have to, i.e. when shifting gears. The engine uses fuel when the clutch is down.

Skip gears

Skipping gears is related to the sections above. You gain momentum more quickly and avoid too much clutch work. The following gear skips are the most common:

  • 2nd ⇒ 4th
  • 3rd ⇒ 5th

Utilise engine braking

A car that is engine braking consumes no fuel. The actual brake effect is produced by the friction inside the engine.

How to engine brake

You engine brake by letting up on the accelerator completely. Keep an eye on the tachometer and shift to a lower gear just before it reaches 1,200–1,300 rpm. If you go under that rpm level, the engine will start consuming fuel again.

Avoid braking and stopping

Minimal fuel consumption is achieved by driving along at a constant speed. Each time you brake you “waste” the energy used to build up your speed.

When you see a red light up ahead, you can engine brake and keep moving slowly forwards (without stopping) and hope that it will turn green. The worst thing you can do is to approach at a high speed, brake hard to come to a stop just before the red light and then accelerate to your original speed again after standing still.

Important clarification regarding eco-driving

Traffic safety is always a higher priority than eco-driving. If you need to brake hard in order to avoid hitting a pedestrian, you should never worry about engine braking to be environmentally friendly – just step on the brake!

How important is eco-driving during the driving test?
– The most important thing is that you use eco-driving when it is appropriate. Concrete examples:

  • Good: You turn out onto a road where the speed limit is 50 km/h and use the gears 1-2-4.
  • Bad: You turn into a parking lot in order to park. You accelerate hard and jump from 2nd to 4th gear. This saves fuel, but it could make you fail the test, as it is not appropriate for the situation. The most appropriate thing to do would probably be to keep moving slowly in 2nd.

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Last updated 2017-09-08.