While we wait for widespread green mobility, we could try to make our own car more sustainable with just a few tweaks. Having it regularly serviced, checking the pressure and wear of its tyres on a regular basis makes better performance obtainable while also reducing fuel consumption. Driving smoothly at moderate speed and being as careful as possible makes the journey safer and produces fewer harmful emissions into the environment as no fuel is wasted. The same can be achieved if you only use your vehicle when you really need it and for proper journeys, while also limiting the use of electrical accessories such as the air conditioning and radio.
1. CONSTANT AND CORRECT MAINTENANCE
Having your vehicle serviced ensures it has a longer and “healthier” life by ensuring maximum performance, thanks to professional checks on engine oil, spark plugs, air and fuel filters. It is important to be methodical and have it serviced at least once a year. At every change of season and before you set off, it is also very useful to stop off at your tyre specialist and have the tread wear and tyre pressure checked, adjusting it according to the external temperature and the actual load on board.
Read more: Safety first: what to check before you leave
Not everyone knows that loading luggage unevenly can also have negative effects on fuel consumption, as does having an inappropriately sized aerial or having a roof rack, a ski rack or a bike rack that you don't intend to use, because these modify the aerodynamics of the vehicle creating resistance to the forward motion of the car.
Read more: The art of loading luggage
2. DRIVE CAREFULLY AND UNIFORMLY
Slow down and accelerate gradually and not abruptly, be very careful and also keep an eye on the cars in front, maintain a moderate and constant speed: these are some tips that should allow you to optimise fuel consumption. Concentration allows us to anticipate decelerating traffic and increase safety - our own and that of others.
Be careful when changing gear and avoid braking abruptly because loosening the pressure on the accelerator gradually makes the engine more efficient and reduces fuel consumption. You should shift up when the engine reaches 2000 rpm or 2500 rpm if the engine is a petrol engine. Also maintain a low and constant speed without sprinting to optimise your energy expenditure.
In latest-generation cars, the ECO mode is designed to adjust all the main operating parameters of the car to optimise them. Activating it as much as possible helps the car have a sustainable energy consumption for the environment.
And why not turn off the engine when we are stuck in a traffic jam or stopped in front of a closed level crossing? The most modern cars have a system that automatically adjusts this stop and start on such occasions.
3. LIMIT THE USE OF ELECTRONICS
In summer, the temperature inside the passenger compartment, especially if left under the sun, reaches extremely high values; on the contrary, in winter, perhaps after leaving the car outside overnight, the temperature is very low, with a high percentage of humidity and frost on the glazing. Consequently, reducing the use of the air conditioning is almost impossible, but it is precisely what raises consumption levels by up to 25%. It is advisable to maintain a constant temperature that isn't excessively low or high, thus encouraging ventilation of the interior, and also open the windows. Other similar services, such as heated seats, heated wing mirrors and rear window demisting, should also rarely be used because of the considerable energy consumption they entail.
Listening to your favourite song at top volume, while singing it out loud while you drive makes you happier and more relaxed, but unfortunately it does not help the vehicle to be greener. Large amplification systems and the high volume of the radio are some of the electrical accessories that should be limited as they affect fuel consumption. The ideal solution is to keep the volume on a low setting or even turning off the radio to enjoy some quiet thinking time.
Fresh air ruffling your hair and cooling down the interior in summer can be pleasant but when you travel at the speed over 50-60 km/h you should close the windows because the friction invalidates any fuel savings.
4. USE YOUR VEHICLE CONSCIOUSLY
Cars usually have four or five seats but all are very seldom used. What if the free seats were made available to passengers who have to make the same journey or even part of it? Car sharing is good both for the environment and for your wallet, as the expenses are shared and emissions are halved.
Busy roads and interminable queues are enemies of our mood and of the environment, so it is highly advisable to drive around at alternative times and by car, only when strictly necessary. In town during peak hours, for example, a valid alternative is to use the means of transport provided by sharing companies such as electric mopeds, bicycles and electric scooters that allow you to avoid traffic and reduce emissions to zero.
Read more: Sharing, an idea for the future of mobility