The Berkshire Driving School  
Trailer, Minibus & Taxi tuition
  105 Sutherland Chase, Ascot. SL5 8TE
  Home: 01344-876678. Mob: 07917-666366
  john@berkshire-driving-school.co.uk  

Berkshire Driving School - Driving Tips


Please note this part of the site is under serious construction - it will make sense soon enough - please bear with us - yes we know the "click heres don't work...


Tips to reduce CO2 emissions


Slowing Down

Many older drivers (me included) were told to use the gears to slow down in case the brakes failed. It also allowed the oil to be sucked up into the valve stems and this was thought to be good at lubricating them. DO NOT DRIVE A NEW CAR THIS WAY. You should use the brakes to slow down and select the correct gear to accelerate.

If you want to know the reasons then click here.


Hills - Descending

When reaching a long decent, slow the vehicle down and select a low gear for the descent.

If you want to know the reasons then click here.

top of page


Road Shading

Consider using the shading painted on the road surface when slowing or waiting to turn. Keep the vehicle in line with the traffic and avoid turning the wheel until you are ready to move off. Keep your foot on the brake pedal if there is no other vehicle waiting behind you.

If you want to know the reasons then click here.


A Quick Getaway

Drivers of older cars may not have synchromesh on first gear. They may get a graunching sound if they select first gear quickly when wanting to move off quickly. There are two ways to avoid this -

  1. Hold the clutch down a couple of seconds before selecting first gear
  2. Select a gear with synchromesh and then engage first gear.

Any one of these procedures should prevent the noise.


Queueing

If you are heading a queue at traffic lights then watch out for the lights controlling the traffic before your turn. When they get an amber light then you will get an amber a few seconds later. If you are a few cars back down the queue then depress the clutch when the traffic moves off at the front of the queue. You can then engage first gear quickly just before it becomes your turn to move off.

If you want to know the reasons then click here.


Starting

Do not start a modern car engine with your foot on the accelerator pedal

A modern cars engine is controlled by computer. This has been programmed to optimised the engine revolutions and other parameters so that it starts reliably. Adjusting these settings by having the accelerator depressed will result in the settings not being optimised to start so reliably. When it does start, the engine will race and mechanical components will be operating at speed before the oil pressure has been built up. The oil starved components will fail prematurely. The turbocharger is particularly susceptible to this mistreatment. Unburnt fuel swept through the engine when the engine is started this way will poison the catalytic converter


Tyre checks

After a long journey, touch the tyres to check the temperature. The front tyres are usually hotter than the rear tyres. If one tyre is hotter then the other tyre on the other side then the tyre may be slightly low on pressure

If you want to know the reasons then click here.

top of page


Roundabouts

Straight lining roundabouts will result in a driving test failure. However, experienced drivers often do this since it places the car further from vehicles getting on to the roundabout and makes his intensions more obvious to drivers giving way to him. I short, he will be driving safer. He will also save wear and tear on his tyres, save fuel and CO2 emissions and give his passengers a smoother ride. He appreciates that such a driving technique inappropriately applied could result in the loss of no claims bonus and risks the lives of his and others on the road. Test candidates should stick to the rules.

Keep a low profile on the road. Do not impose your values on others and don't be judgemental of others. Tail gating, unnecessary speeding and accelerating, holding up others on the road may spark retaliation. Do not stick too rigidly to the highway code - it is unreasonable for that slim document to cover every eventuality. You MUST apply common sense.

For a short anecdote the following may amuse...

A client argued that rules should always be obeyed, contrary to my advice that common sense should also be applied to driving and sometimes the driver must make some decisions which are contrary to the written rules, under certain circumstances.

The following week he took his test and found himself in the way of a fire engine. The examiner told him to get on to the pavement to let it through although the Highway Code forbids this.

My client passed his test but apologised to me for doubting my advice.


Handy Mirrors

If you have electrically adjustable mirrors then when driving on motorways set them to give you a wider view further down the road. Setting them down and inwards can help with reversing. This will help you see objects close to you and prevent expensive scratches. Don't forget that you must still look out of the back window - and reset the mirrors for normal driving

When parking in the high street try to use reflections to see if you are getting too close to the car behind. It may surprise a passer by if they believe that you 'window shopping' when parking but they will then be impressed with your accuracy.


Clean that screen

Keep a clean duster in the glove box, use it to keep the inside of the screen clean. The inside of the glass gets very greasy in hot weather. Hydrocarbons get driven off the interior plastics by the heat and condense on the glass.

Low tyre pressure increases rolling resistance. This wastes fuel by producing heat. Keep your tyres well inflated - it will save fuel.

Binding brakes and tight bearings can also generate heat. Normal braking also produces heat so one wheel which is quite cool could mean that the brakes on that wheel have seized.

top of page


Gearchanging

Drivers of older cars may not have synchromesh on first gear. They may get a crunching if they select first gear quickly when wanting to move off quickly. There are two ways to avoid this -

  1. Hold the clutch down a couple of seconds before selecting first gear
  2. Select a gear with synchromesh and then engage first gear.

Any one of these procedures should prevent the noise.

There are three main parts of the gear box. One is where the power goes in, one is moved around when you change gear and the other is where the power comes out of the gearbox. They all have cog wheels attached to them and each behaves as a flywheel. They must all be stationary when you are about to move off. This is why you must have your foot on the clutch before engaging first gear so that you can isolate the gearbox from the engine. The part connected to the clutch, the input shaft may take some time to slow down if the synchromesh is a little lazy. You may have to wait a few seconds before engaging first gear. Alternatively use the synchromesh from another gear to stop the input shaft from spinning, for example slip the car into second and then first gear.

If you are heading a queue at traffic lights then watch out for the lights controlling the traffic before your turn. When they get an amber light then you will get an amber a few seconds later. If you are a few cars back down the queue then depress the clutch when the traffic moves off at the front of the queue. You can then engage first gear quickly just before it becomes your turn to move off.


Shady Roads

Consider using the shading painted on the road surface when slowing or waiting to turn. Keep the vehicle in line with the traffic and avoid turning the wheel until you are ready to move off. Keep your foot on the brake pedal if there is no other vehicle waiting behind you.

The shading on the road is designed to separate traffic streams and to protect vehicles turning. Drivers should not normally drive on it. Thus if you are possibly at risk of being hit when slowing or waiting then placing your vehicle on the shading will offer you a measure of protection.

Remember that you should not normally drive on the shading if you have to cross a solid line to get on to it.

If you keep the car lined up with the traffic flow then you will be a smaller target to be hit. Should you be hit then by keeping the wheels straight you will be pushed into clear road and not into oncoming traffic. Keep your foot on the brake pedal until a car stops behind you. Your brake lights will alert vehicles behind you of your presence. Release the footbrake if possible when there is a vehicle waiting behind since the high level brake lights could blind the driver behind you. Of course the parking brake is available to stop you rolling away.

top of page


Slowing down

Many older drivers, (me included) were told to use the gears to slow down in case the brakes failed. It also allowed the oil to be sucked up into the valve stems and this was thought to be good at lubricating them. DO NOT DRIVE A NEW CAR THIS WAY. You should use the brakes to slow down and select the correct gear to accelerate.

New cars have better, more reliable brakes and are fitted with automatic braking systems and catalytic converters. Dual circuit brakes are most unlikely to suddenly fail; new cars have disc brakes all round which are much less prone to brake fade since they have better cooling. Parts which expand when they get hot tend to cause the friction materials to expand towards each other.

Quite frankly, the transmission is less reliable than the brakes and should not be relied upon to slow you.

You are more likely to be rear ended if you use the gears to slow down; it is much better to get the brake lights to light up early and this can only be achieved by placing the foot on the brake pedal which then switches the brake lights on.

The automatic braking system (ABS) controls the braking of each individual wheel; the transmission works on axles and has no built-in intelligence. It has no way of reacting if an individual wheel passes over a slippery patch and has no way of reacting in microseconds to prevent a wheel locking up.

Oil is a good lubricant but is not a good fuel in car engines. The vacuum produced in the cylinders of an engine being used as a brake sucks the oil out of the sump and into the cylinders. It eventually finds its way into the catalytic converter which becomes poisoned in a very short time. Catalytic converters are expensive to replace so using the engine as a brake is a very expensive way of driving.

Lubricating oil does not burn well and the smoke it produces will add to air pollution. (You might have noticed older cars belching out smoke when the driver accelerates after using the engine to slow the vehicle down.)

Brakes are designed to slow the car and wearing parts are relatively cheap to replace. The transmission is NOT designed to routinely slow the vehicle and the extra wear caused by inappropriate driving techniques will be very expensive to put right.


Controlled descent

When reaching a long decent, slow the vehicle down and select a low gear for the descent.

The driver has two types of energy to remove when going down a hill. These are kinetic energy (speed energy) and potential energy (height energy). Slowing down before the hill reduces kinetic energy. Selecting a low gear will allow the engine to act as a brake. This will reduce the energy needed to be dissipated by the brakes. The brakes turn this energy into heat and a long descent will heat up the brake fluid. If this fluid vaporises then the brakes will fade. Engine braking will keep the service brakes cooler in case an emergency arises and the driver has to perform an emergency stop. Note that the automatic braking system reacts slower when the vehicle is not travelling very fast so the driver must allow for a considerable increase in braking distance when going down hill. The car will also have the weight transferred to the front axle so the vehicle will have a greater tendency to spin as the back wills loose their grip. Caravan towing vehicles will be at a much greater risk of the vehicle combination jack knifing.

In normal driving, use the brakes and not the gears when slowing.

top of page



07917-666366
Please note all information on this site is as correct as best endeavours can make it (Errors and Omissions excepted).
Please report website problems to webmaster Neil Manuel
Website revised on Saturday 24th March 2012. Last edited on Wednesday 28th June 2017.