Oil prices may have fallen, but that doesn’t meant motorists should forget about driving efficiently and maximising their fuel economy. Fossil fuels are still a non-renewable resource and trying to reduce our usage and reliance on them should be the goal of every driver. After all, no car lover wants to pay an arm and a leg to enjoy the thrill of driving a car. With that in mind, here are 10 ways you can improve your fuel economy.
1) Give your engine a tune-up
All the gentle driving in the world won’t make a difference if your motor isn’t running optimally. Fouled spark plugs and contaminated engine oil will increase fuel consumption, so make sure you change these regularly. Also, a clogged air filter means poorer combustion since your motor cannot “breathe” properly. A well-tuned engine enhances your fuel economy, so ensure that you follow your manufacturer’s recommended service intervals.
2) Keep tyres properly inflated
Your tyres are the connection between your car and the road. Under-inflated tyres are a risk because they don’t grip as well and have the disadvantage of increasing rolling resistance, which in turn reduces fuel economy, as the engine has to work harder to turn them.
3) Lighten the load
Stop treating your car like a mobile storage unit. Having extra clothes, shoes and sporting equipment might be convenient, but if you’re not using these all the time, it’s best to unload them from your vehicle and leave them at home. All that extra weight makes your motor thirstier and worsens fuel economy since it has to work harder.
4) Tread lightly
You’ll probably need to slam on the brakes and nail the accelerator when you’re at a track day, but this driving style is a no-no if you want to conserve fuel. Adopt a gentler driving style by applying lighter pressure on both pedals. A great way to train yourself to do this is to pretend that there’s an egg between your right foot and the pedals – you want to step hard enough in order to accelerate without breaking the virtual egg.
5) Plan your journey
Traffic jams and stop-start driving not only waste petrol, but time, too. Utilise your smartphone by downloading apps that show real time traffic information such as Waze. If you can, beat the traffic by heading into the office before rush hour. Or, if your company has flexible hours, you might want to consider coming in after rush hour.
6) Anticipate road users’ behaviour
Planning ahead is one thing, but observing the traffic ahead gives you more time to react to other motorists. If you see an accident or vehicle breakdown in your lane, start filtering to the unaffected lanes so that you don’t get stuck.
7) Switch off your air-con
This may not always be possible given our tropical climate, but on cooler days, consider switching off the air-con to lessen the load on your engine when you’re driving around town at moderate speeds. Doing this on the expressways, however, is detrimental, as the additional drag created by open windows increases fuel use.
8) Never leave your engine idling
If you have to stop for more than 30 seconds, switch off the engine to conserve fuel. You’ll pay a higher price for letting your engine and air-con run while you finish loading an entire cart of groceries.
9) Buy a more efficient car
While shopping for a new car, the vehicle’s fuel economy should always be taken into account. Generally speaking, smaller engines consume less fuel compared to bigger displacement ones. If you’re considering a hybrid vehicle, consider the route you take to work first. Do you mostly drive in the city, or on the expressway. If your answer is the latter, you might want to reconsider that hybrid car because at high speeds, the internal combustion engine, rather than the electric powertrain, is running.
Leave your car at home at least once a week and take the buses and trains instead. While you’ll have to put up with crowding during “crush hour”, remember that you’ll end up not driving four days out of every month!