Hints and Tips

On this page you will find invaluable hints and tips on safe and fuel efficient driving.

Click on the PDF document below to read the Ministry of Transport booklet about safe and fuel efficient driving tips for trucks and buses/coaches.
Saving fuel tips booklet

To view the SAFED NZ information brochure click on the PDF attachment below.
SAFED NZ information brochure

Please note: SAFED NZ is a driver development course for drivers of trucks and buses/coaches. However, most SAFED NZ techiques are also useful for day to day driving of cars and light vehicles. The below tips are especially useful for drivers of light vehicles.

Tips to reduce your vehicle’s emissions

The way you drive can make a big difference to the amount of pollution your vehicle produces:

  • Keep your vehicle tuned to the manufacturer’s maintenance guidelines.
  • Don’t wait to warm up your vehicle – it is wasteful of fuel and is unnecessary if the vehicle is tuned.
  • Don’t fill the tank past the first click – expansion of the fuel can result in increased emissions.
  • Drive cleaner vehicles with the latest emissions control equipment – ask your dealer.
  • Remove excess weight from your vehicle (for example, sporting equipment or tools in the boot).
  • Keep the windows closed to minimise the drag and improve fuel efficiency.
  • Keep track of fuel economy – a loss in economy usually means anincrease in emissions.
  • Try to reduce idling time – idling for about 30 seconds uses more fuel than it takes to start the engine.
  • Avoid driving at peak times.
  • Minimise trips and kilometres – walk, cycle, carpool, use public transport.
  • Plan trips so that you have one linked up trip rather than multiple trips.
  • Avoid short trips – until your car is at normal operating temperature, it will emit excess pollution.
  • Travel at moderate, steady speeds and avoid high speeds as they result in greater emissions.
  • Don’t rev the engine and avoid excessive acceleration and braking.
  • Have your vehicle’s emission control systems checked regularly (if fitted).

Tips for running your diesel

Ensure that your vehicle is regularly serviced, as recommended by the manufacturer. Remember that your vehicle was not designed to smoke excessively. Black smoke is unburned fuel, so steps to reduce the smoke coming from your diesel will also reduce your fuel bill.

Regular diesel engine maintenance should involve:

  • Cleaning and changing the air filter. A clogged air filter will increasesmoke because the engine can only burn the fuel properly if there is enough air getting in there too.
  • Changing the engine oil (about every 5,000 km). Dirty oil increases smoke and increases wear on engine parts.
  • Changing the fuel filter, or filters at the right time ensures longer injector life, and you don’t want to end up having to change the injectors.
  • Drain the water / fuel separator, which is essential to long life of your fuel injector pump and injectors.
  • Checking and cleaning the injectors, maintaining the fuel injection pump and checking the timing and fuel setting are all essential for smooth running, low fuel consumption and lower running costs.

Regular maintenance will not only mean you are running cleaner and greener, but reduce engine smoke, and help to ensure you never need major or costly engine overhauls.

Tips for better fuel economy

Your driving habits, the type of vehicle you drive and the conditions under which you drive all affect how much fuel your vehicle uses and how much it impacts on the environment. But by following a few simple tips you can begin to drive a little greener, and save yourself some money. 

  • Combine errands into one trip rather than several trips.
  • Avoid peak hour traffic.
  • Use public transport where practical.
  • In a manual shift, change through the gears. Engines generally run most efficiently between around 1,500 and 2,500 rpm (lower in diesels).
  • In an automatic shift, accelerate smoothly and ease back on the accelerator once the car gathers momentum.
  • Drive at a good distance from the car in front so you can anticipate and travel with the flow of traffic, avoiding unnecessary acceleration and frequent repetitive braking.
  • Stop the engine whenever your car is stopped or held up for an extended period of time. This will save more fuel than is lost from the burst of fuel involved in restarting the engine, and any increased wear and tear from this practice is considered negligible.
  • Watch your speed. At 110 km/h your car uses up to 25% more fuel than it would cruising at 90 km/h.
  • Roof racks, poorly placed spoilers, or driving with the window open, increases air resistance and fuel consumption, in some cases by over 20%.
  • Make sure your tyres are correctly inflated to the manufacturer’s recommendations and make sure your wheels are properly aligned. This will also extend tyre life, improve handling and could make all the difference to how your car handles.
  • Air conditioners can use up to 10% extra fuel when operating, especially when your car is not moving and the engine is at idle.
  • At speeds of over 80 km/h, use of air conditioning is better for fuel consumption than an open window.
  • The more weight your vehicle carries the more fuel it uses. An extra 50kg of weight can increase your fuel bill by 2%.
  • Heavy, unsecured loads can also become dangerous in an emergency.
  • Keeping your vehicle properly serviced and well tuned will minimise its fuel use and impact on the environmental.

Note: These tips are provided to assist motorists to get the most from their vehicle. Always seek vehicle maintenance advice from a qualified person.