The fuel efficient driving tips will help you operate and drive your car more efficiently and can produce significant fuel savings – saving you money and staving off climate change.

Fuel efficient driving

Tips and techniques for fuel efficient drivers

Avoid idling

If you’re going to be idling for more than 10 seconds you will save more fuel and reduce emissions and air pollutants by switching off and restarting.  It takes very little petrol to restart a car engine, especially a warm engine.

Avoid warming up your car

Modern car engines do not need to be warmed up before driving away and the engine will reach its optimal operating temperature more rapidly when driving.

Avoid short trips

Car engines run most efficiently and with the lowest emissions when warmed up, but it takes a few minutes of driving to reach the correct operating temperature.  You use 20% more fuel driving when your engine is cold.

Drive at the right speed

Cars use fuel most efficiently in the 45 – 80 km/hr range.  If you travel at 110 km/hr instead of 100 km/hr you will use about 15% more petrol.

Drive smoothly

Accelerate smoothly.  Jack-rabbit starts burn a lot of fuel.

Check tyre inflation

Tires with low air pressure make your engine work harder. Inflate your tires to the recommended inflation pressure, often found on a plate inside the driver’s side door jamb or in your owner’s manual. Maintain proper air pressure by checking each tire with a tire gauge at least once a month.

Remove unnecessary weight

Every additional kilogram requires the engine to work harder. Empty your vehicle of any unnecessary items, like the golf clubs, and your engine will reward you with more kilometres per litre.

Use cruise control

The cruise control feature optimises fuel efficiency when driving on open stretches of road. To take advantage of the savings, use it only when traffic and road conditions permit. Remember, the lower you set your speed, the better your fuel economy.

Use air conditioning selectively

Running your air conditioner uses more fuel (about 10% more) because the engine has to work harder to run the air conditioning compressor.  However, the drag from open windows reduces fuel economy even more at highway speeds. A good compromise is to open your vehicle’s windows when driving around town, and use the air conditioner when driving on the open road. If you can, keep the windows closed and the air conditioner off and open the vents and turn up the fan speed.

Lower drag

Strapping luggage or other items to the roof disrupts the airflow increasing drag and significantly reducing fuel economy.  Remove the roof rack, and the bike rack, when you’re not using them.

Use the original tyres and wheels

Replacing the original wheels and tyres with wider ones hurts fuel economy. Your vehicle was engineered for specific wheel and tire sizes to offer the best blend of ride quality, vehicle handling, and fuel economy. Stick with the recommended sizes and enjoy better fuel economy.


Energywise website

You can get good information on fuel consumption of all new cars sold in New Zealand as well as most Japanese used cars imported and sold in New Zealand on the government’s Energywise website.