How Your Driving Style Affects Your Car’s Fuel Consumption

Date Posted: June 22, 2020

filling up a car with petrol

Petrol prices seem to represent a yo-yo. Unfortunately, that ‘yo-yo’ is usually up – sometimes smashing through $1.60 per litre for regular unleaded in Australia!

As manufacturers are bending over backwards to find and improve ways to reduce fuel consumption, you can benefit from fuel-efficient driving too.

Don’t shudder every time you drive past a petrol station with these tips…

Aggressive Driving

Angry driver

Just like humans, the harder your car works, the more fuel it needs. Compare a lazy Sunday at home to a busy Monday spent dashing about meeting clients and attending meetings. With hard accelerating at lights, speeding up to change lanes and hard braking and accelerating through backstreets, you’ll drink up to 40% more fuel. Try to drive calmly, without being in a rush. You’ll notice a big difference. Furthermore, make sure to select a vehicle that suits your needs by choosing one of the best cars suited to Australian roads

Fuel Consumption at Idle

traffic jam red lights

Everyone knows that when an engine is on and turning over, it’s consuming fuel. Car manufacturers are absolutely aware too. Some modern cars are equipped with stop-start systems which shut down engines at traffic lights leaving accessories on without using petrol. When a driver takes their foot off the brake or applies the accelerator, the engine quickly starts again. These systems can save fuel with city commutes but be careful.

Some people have attempted to imitate these systems. They manually turn off their engines at red lights then start them up again when the light turns green. Be careful as this puts a huge strain on your car’s starter motor which can result in expensive repairs.

Make sure to only turn off your engine if the wait is more than a few minutes. 

Fighting the Wind

dog facing in wind

Forcing your vehicle to cut through the air increases fuel consumption. Your engine will simply need more power (a.k.a. ‘fuel) to maintain a high speed against wind. F1 teams and other racing cars spend big dollars to find ways to slip through the air.

A car with roof-mounted cargo can use up to 20% more fuel than one without.

Keep your vehicle as aerodynamic as possible, especially at high speed on a highway. Try to keep your windows rolled up as open windows increase drag at higher speeds. If you can, invest in fuel efficient driving by selecting a wind-resistant roof cargo box for long trips.

Speed Bumps

speed bump sign

These guys are pretty good at doing what they’re designed to do – slowing down traffic. If you brake hard before a speed hump and accelerate hard to the next one, you’re wasting petrol. Try to maintain a constant slower speed when driving on roads with multiple speed bumps. Fuel efficient driving means spending a few more seconds in the car with this one.

Air Con Vs Windows Open

windows open legs out

Using the air conditioning does increase your fuel consumption. You’re asking your vehicle to do more work – supply you with cool air as well as move you from A to B. Although modern cars operate extremely efficiently, you can still improve fuel efficiency with limited A/C. As a general rule of thumb; windows down when driving at low speed, air conditioning when driving faster. 

Of course, driving with the windows open in heavy traffic in a hot city is not ideal. We’ll leave this for a case-by-case decision.


rpm gauge

More applicable to manual drivers, keeping the engine speed down will save fuel. Especially evident in older cars, if you change gears at a lower RPM, you can reduce fuel consumption. Higher revs = more fuel. However, always follow your owner’s manual as driving at a too low engine speed can result in damage – especially when driving uphill. Modern cars are closing the gap, but a manual diven at low engine speed can save around 10% more fuel than an automatic.


car tyre

More rolling resistance = more fuel consumption. A coin will roll faster down a hill compared to a broomstick for example. You may have noticed train wheels taking advantage of this. Of course, thin wheels and tyres will reduce traction and grip so it can be a bit of a balance. Make sure to keep your tyres inflated correctly as per the manufacturer’s instructions in your owner’s manual. 

To Sum Up

Finding ways to save fuel is easy – there are many techniques. How could your wallet benefit from fuel efficient driving? Applying even a few tips from above can save money and postpone those stops at the petrol station.
You’ll have more time and money to explore Australia’ most scenic roads


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