Petrol prices have gone up yet again. While there is nothing you can do about the rising costs, you can lower your fuel consumption by taking care of a few basic things. The way you drive and the condition of your car has an impact on the amount of petrol you consume. Here are a few tips to help you save fuel and money.
Drive in the right gear
Driving in a gear lower than you need wastes fuel, and letting the engine labor in top gear on hills and corners is also wasteful. In a manual vehicle, change up gears as soon as the car is comfortable with the higher gear but without accelerating harder than necessary.
Automatic transmissions will shift up more quickly and smoothly if you ease back slightly on the accelerator once the car gathers momentum. Avoid the use of power options which drop the car into a lower gear and therefore use more fuel.
Stop/start driving is much less efficient and more polluting than driving at a constant speed. Take it easy on the accelerator – more revs equals more petrol use. Drive at a good distance from the car in front so you can anticipate and travel with the flow of traffic. This avoids unnecessary acceleration and frequent repetitive braking that ends up wasting fuel. It’s also far safer.
If you see traffic stoppages ahead, first take your foot off the accelerator and let the engine’s drop in power slow the vehicle, particularly by also changing to a lower gear. Don’t continue to drive at the same speed and applying the brakes at the last minute. Getting back to cruising speed while the car is still moving uses far less petrol than stopping and then starting again.
Minimize vehicle idling
Most cars don’t need to be “warmed up” by idling before setting off. This simply wastes fuel. Start your car when you are ready to go. Once on the road, minimize fuel wasted in idling by stopping the engine whenever your car is stopped or held up for an extended period of time. By having the engine switched off, even for a short period, you will save more fuel than is lost from the burst of fuel involved in restarting the engine. The net increased wear and tear from this practice is negligible.
Don’t drive aggressively
Fuel consumption increases significantly over about 90 km/h. At 110 km/h your car uses up to 25% more fuel than it would cruising at 90 km/h. If your car is fitted with cruise control, using it during highway driving will help to maintain a steadier speed, which will save fuel.
Minimize aerodynamic drag
Additional parts on the exterior of a vehicle such as roof racks and spoilers, or having the window open, increases air resistance and fuel consumption, in some cases by over 20% at higher speeds. Take off roof and bike racks when not in use. If you have to use roof racks, load them carefully to help minimize wind resistance or use a streamlined roof box.
Look after tires
Inflate your vehicle’s tires to the highest pressure recommended by the manufacture and make sure your wheels are properly aligned. Looking after your tires will not only reduce your fuel consumption it will also extend tire life and improve handling.
Reduce air conditioner use
Air conditioners can use about 10% extra fuel when operating. However, at speeds of over 80 km/h, use of air conditioning is better for fuel consumption than an open window as this creates aerodynamic drag. If it is hotter inside your car than outside when you start a trip, drive with the windows down for a few minutes to help cool the car before starting the air conditioning.
Eliminate extra weight
The more weight a vehicle carries, the more fuel it uses. Don’t use your car as a mobile store room. Leave heavy items like tools and sports equipment at home when you don’t need them on a trip.
Keep your vehicle in good condition
Keep your vehicle well-tuned and regularly maintained. Get your car serviced at the intervals specified in the manufacturer’s handbook.
Use the petrol that is recommended for your vehicle by the manufacturer. If you use regular unleaded in a car designed to run on premium unleaded you can expect slightly less performance and fractionally higher consumption. Using premium unleaded petrol in a car designed for regular unleaded may give better fuel consumption in some newer vehicles but it is unlikely to offset the extra cost of the fuel.
This article is from BQ Plus’s Issue 9 – March-April 2017.
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