Eco-driving tips

How to live sustainably and still drive a car

Australia's 11 million cars produce more than 46 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2), which causes global warming - and this figure is set to grow by up to 60% according to government estimates.

What this means is that we need to start reducing our car emissions now to achieve a reduction of 30% of total emissions by 2030.

Here are some of the things you can do to save money and reduce our environmental impact when getting from A to B.

Are you looking to buy a new car?

If you are thinking of buying a new car, consider purchasing a hybrid (part electric, part petrol), or a high-efficiency diesel model. Hybrids can reduce your emissions by around 40% (and improving all the time) and use much less fuel than an equivalent non-hybrid model - with the subsequent $$ savings. These savings add up over the life of the car and, especially with fuel prices on the rise, can be considerable. Be sure to take these fuel savings into consideration when weighing up the up-front cost of the car.

There are only a few hybrid models currently available in Australia but there are more on the way. The Green Vehicle Guide provides a quick way to compare the emissions and air quality performance of a variety of cars.

Reduce your car use


Where possible, use public transport or share car journeys (see below). For short trips, consider walking or riding a bicycle instead.

When you do need to use the car, plan to do a number of errands in one trip rather than several trips and save both time and fuel (for the first couple of minutes of a car trip the engine is cold, which results in an increase in fuel consumption per kilometre).
Car share

Consider sharing travel for all or part of a journey, especially regular trips like travelling to work, social or sporting events (this is also known as ‘ride sharing’). Consider joining or starting up a car pool with other people in your workplace.

There are a growing number of car share services popping up, particularly in city areas. These services enable you to book a car inexpensively for a few hours at a time. The costs of maintenance and insurance are covered in the fees you pay, and if you don't use a car much you can save a lot of money. Some services also include the cost of petrol in the booking fee, further reducing your costs.

Also, some councils provide free parking for such car share services, saving you money and hassle.

Offset your car's emissions

If you want to reduce your emissions to be carbon neutral, consider carbon offsets. Even a hybrid puts some CO2 into the atmosphere, and offsetting is a great way to further reduce your impact.

Use your car more efficiently

Try these simple, fuel-efficiency driving tips to save money from fuel use and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions produced by your car every day.
Drive in high gear

Your car engine runs most efficiently in high gear (around 1500 to 2500 rpm, lower in diesel-run cars), so change up through the gears as soon as you can. Automatic cars shift up gears more quickly if you ease back on the accelerator once the car gathers momentum.

Drive smoothly

Braking and accelerating back up to full speed uses more petrol than driving at a consistent speed. Avoid unnecessary acceleration and braking by driving at a good distance from the car in front, so you can anticipate and travel with the flow of traffic.

Reduce your speed

Slow down! At 110 km/h your car uses up to 25% more petrol than it would if cruising at 90 km/h.

Reduce your drag

Additional parts on the exterior of your car - such as roof racks (and the things you put on them), spoilers and having the window open - can increase 'drag' and how much petrol you use by more than 20%.

Look after your tyres


Inflate your car tyres to the highest pressure recommended by the manufacturer (including your spare) and ensure your wheels are properly aligned. Looking after your tyres will not only reduce your fuel consumption it will also extend tyre life and improve handling.

Use the air-conditioning sparingly

Car air conditioning uses around 10% extra fuel. But at speeds of more than 80 km/h, air-con use is better for fuel economy than an open window. Make sure that your air conditioning is properly serviced to prevent the leaking of CFCs from the seals.

Travel light

The more a vehicle carries, the more fuel it uses. So don't carry more cargo than you need to and clear out your boot. An extra 50 kg of weight can increase your petrol bill by around 2%.

Service your vehicle regularly

Keeping your vehicle well tuned will mean it is operating at its most efficient, which means it will use less petrol.

Find out more


For more information on how to drive smarter to save money and reduce the environmental impact of your car - or how to buy a less-polluting car - visit the Green Vehicle Guide.
Some links to get you started:

GoGet: Sydney and Melbourne
Need a ride: Post your request or offer on this site to link up with others that are offering/looking for a lift.
Coseats.com is the easiest way to rideshare around Australia, carpool to work or anywhere else.
• Google search for 'car share australia' and 'ride share australia'