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Man­ual cars aren’t nec­es­sar­ily more fuel ef­fi­cient than au­to­matic cars. Thanks to tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances au­to­matic cars are just as eco­nomic as man­ual mod­els.

Un­less you drive quite an old car, it’s no longer nec­es­sary to “warm up” your car’s en­gine be­fore you start driv­ing. To­day’s cars gen­er­ally have fuel-in­jec­tion sys­tems de­signed for op­ti­mal func­tion as you turn on the car.

Don’t take the car out of gear go­ing down­hill – it makes it more dif­fi­cult to con­trol the car in an emer­gency. By just tak­ing your foot off the ac­cel­er­a­tor, not re­leas­ing the gear, you’ll prob­a­bly use the least fuel.

Don’t use the en­gine to stop your car from rolling back when you’ve stopped on a hill. It wastes petrol and isn’t good for the clutch. Use the hand­brake in­stead.

Don’t let the en­gine idle too long in sta­tion­ary traf­fic. Turn it off af­ter 30-60 sec­onds un­til you can drive again. The Union of Con­cerned Sci­en­tists (UCS) in Amer­ica says an en­gine that idles for a minute uses more fuel than one switched off and on again. The so-called “stop-start”-tech- nol­ogy, which al­lows the en­gine to switch off au­to­mat­i­cally when you take your foot off the brake pedal, was ini­tially used only in hy­brid cars but is now widely used in con­ven­tional cars and can cut con­sump­tion by up to 5%.

If you can avoid it, don’t drive with open win­dows, es­pe­cially on the high­way, as this can sig­nif­i­cantly in­crease fuel con­sump­tion.

Don’t use your air-con­di­tion­ing un­less you re­ally need to. In­stead use or­di­nary air-vent ven­ti­la­tion. Use the re-cir­cu­la­tion set­ting when you do switch on the air­con­di­tion­ing.

Don’t think that you’ll make any real sav­ing by skip­ping your reg­u­lar car ser­vice. “Pos­si­bly the big­gest fuel waster of all comes into ef­fect once the ve­hi­cle is not run­ning prop­erly any­more,” De­wald Ranft, chair­per­son of SA’s Mo­tor In­dus­try Work­shop As­so­ci­a­tion, warns. “Mis­fires, en­gine warn­ing lights, low per­for­mance, bind­ing brakes and oil sludge are all things that can cause an in­crease in fuel con­sump­tion of more than 10%, be­sides the longterm dam­age to your ve­hi­cle.”

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