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Many UK drivers believe that by coasting they can save petrol – but the truth is quite different.

Coasting is where a driver drives with their foot pressed down on the clutch or the gearstick in neutral.

LeaseLoco surveyed 1,016 Brits and found that a 45 per cent admitted to using the supposedly ‘fuel-saving’ driving technique.

Read more: Latest motoring news from HertsLive

In fact, coasting not only has no energy efficiency benefits in modern cars, it’s a very dangerous habit that could result in a £1,000 fine or disqualification and cause damage to your vehicle.

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Coasting does not save you fuel

John Wilmot, chief executive at the UK’s biggest car lease comparison site, LeaseLoco, explains “Coasting is no longer beneficial to energy efficiency due to the fuel system in the majority of modern cars.”

“When we drive downhill in gear our engine ECU detects that the accelerator isn’t engaged and cuts fuel from going into the fuel injectors. We use no fuel or very little when driving downhill in gear.

“However, when we drive downhill in neutral our engine and wheels become disconnected.

“This forces a small amount of fuel to be sent to the engine due to the car not receiving the rotational power it needs from the wheels, instead of drawing that power directly from the wheels.”

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A very dangerous technique

Not only is driving in neutral not an effective energy-efficient driving technique it’s also very dangerous, as you don’t have full control over the car when it’s in neutral.

It can reduce driver control because:

  • Engine braking is eliminated. A driver has much less control because they can’t control the speed via engine braking – since the engine is not connected to the wheels.

  • Vehicle speed downhill will increase quickly . The car picks up speed much quicker when free rolling down a hill due to gravity, meaning you go considerably faster than you otherwise would when the engine is engaged and the car is in gear.

  • Increased use of the footbrake can reduce its effectiveness . As you lose engine braking, you run the risk of overheating the brakes when it comes to slowing the car.

  • Steering response will be affected, particularly on bends and corners

  • It may be more difficult to select the appropriate gear when needed

  • A driver would struggle to quickly accelerate out of a difficult driving situation when the car is in neutral.

Brake and clutch damage

When driving in neutral, drivers become reliant on the mechanical brakes due to the engine brakes disengaging. This can wear out the mechanical brakes much quicker.

Also, because you are more likely to be going much faster than usual, as mentioned above, you are going to be braking with much more force required over the same journey, meaning brake discs and pads wear at a quicker rate.

The clutch release bearing is the part of the clutch system that disengages the engine while the clutch pedal is pressed down.

If this clutch release bearing is under stress for longer periods than is necessary you’ll need to replace it quicker than usual.

A faulty clutch release bearing requires the dismantling of the entire clutch mechanism so it can cost a lot more than many may anticipate.

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