Drivers warned of ‘very dangerous’ fuel-saving tricks they should never attempt

Average cost of filling family car with petrol set to hit £100

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With the fuel prices soaring to an all-time high, motorists across the UK will try anything to save money. One of the best ways to do that might be by practising hypermiling. This is when drivers attempt to get the best mileage out of their cars, in turn saving fuel and money.

However, motoring experts have now warned that some of the most common fuel-saving techniques can be dangerous.

Neil Greig, Director of Policy and Research at IAM RoadSmart, told “The UK’s roads are still very busy and when you are driving you need to concentrate on your safety and that of others first and foremost.

“Some hypermiling techniques demand high concentration levels which could distract you from safe driving.

“Going far too slowly can also irritate other drivers who don’t know what you are doing and that can lead to road rage.”

The expert also warned that motorists should “never” free wheel in a modern car as it will switch off all the safety system.

When it comes to coasting, Mr Greig said that it is fine to use in the right place and at the right time.

He continued: “The best eco-driving techniques are the simplest – keep your car well maintained, stick to the speed limit, look far ahead and anticipate slowing down at traffic lights or junctions.

“Remember that heavy acceleration or braking are the enemies of low fuel consumption.

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“Take any unnecessary weight out of the car and remove roof boxes or roof racks.

“At low speeds open the windows for ventilation.

“At higher speeds only use the air conditioning when you have too.

“Gadgets need power, which comes from the engine and uses up fuel, so I’m afraid the heated seats, steering wheels, and other comfort items should be avoided.

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“Also, remember to shop around for the cheapest fuel and if you can walk or cycle for those shorter trips.”

Sarah Tooze, Consumer Editor at CarSite, also had a cautionary tone about this trend.

She said: “While there is merit in some of the suggestions, some techniques, such as drafting and coasting, are potentially dangerous for the driver and other road users.

“Risking an expensive (and potentially fatal) crash in an attempt to save fuel is not worth it.”

Experts at CarSite also revealed some of the most dangerous hypermiling techniques.

These include:


This involves driving close behind another vehicle, usually a van or lorry, essentially using the forward vehicle’s body to shield your own car from wind and so reduce drag. Drafting is dangerous for obvious reasons. Tailgating is illegal (it’s classed as dangerous driving), and by doing this hypermilers are inviting a crash. Reaction times and braking distance are severely reduced at this range, making a collision more likely should the car in front suddenly slow; following too closely is responsible for five percent of traffic collisions, while sudden braking makes up a further five percent of accidents.


Coasting is another potentially dangerous technique. Some hypermilers turn the engine off while in motion, which can cut power to steering and braking assists, and potentially engage the steering lock. More responsible hypermilers instead use coasting when going downhill or approaching junctions, lifting off the throttle early and letting the car carry itself forward. While not illegal, drivers involved in an accident while coasting may be found to be at fault as they were not fully in control of the car. In addition, more and more modern cars have systems that enable safe coasting by automatically cutting off the engine when going downhill, but still allowing full control of steering and braking.

Ridge riding

A US hypermiling technique that is starting to see use elsewhere is ridge riding. This involves driving off-centre in a lane to avoid the ‘ridges’ left in the road by other drivers. In the US, with wide, straight roads, this technique may work. However, UK roads tend to be more narrow, and driving off-centre is likely to place the vehicle dangerously close to oncoming traffic.

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