11 Tips to Improve Fuel Economy
Very simple adjustments to save money and fuel
If you’re concerned about the price of gas or want to minimize the impact of your driving on the environment, you don’t have to scrap your car for a hybrid or a subcompact econo-box. In fact, this entire list of tips below is made up of very simple things that you can do on your own, resulting in a substantive cumulative effect on your energy costs. This is not a list of items to purchase, just simple tweaks to get the most out of your vehicle.
1. Check your tire pressure at least once a month. Under-inflated tires burn more fuel. If tires are 8 pounds under inflated, (not an uncommon condition), rolling resistance of the tires increases by 5 per cent.
2. Be patient at the pump. When getting gas, keep the hose in the tank until after the pump shuts off and make sure you allow all the fuel to pour out of the nozzle. As much as a quarter of a cup can pour from the hose. It’s yours, you paid for it.
3. Get your windows tinted. A solar tint on your vehicle does two things. First, it will reduce the amount of heat coming into the vehicle in the summer, which means less A/C which means better fuel consumption. Second, it will help retain heat in the winter, meaning less use of the heater on full blast. Reduce your energy usage, reduce your fuel consumption, it is as simple as that.
4. Cruise when you can. When appropriate, use your cruise control. This can save you up to 6 per cent in fuel consumption on the highway, especially when on flat terrain.
5. Idle no more. Don’t let the vehicle idle for more than a minute. Idling consumes 2-4 litres of gas per hour and pumps needless CO2 into the atmosphere. The modern engine will consume less fuel when turned off and re-started than when idling for extended periods. We are already being faced with no-idle zones. Also, to effectively warm an engine, drive it, don’t rev it. Engines only work hard under load and will warm up much quicker if you simply start the engine, wait for 20 seconds to build the oil pressure, and then drive away.
6. Lighten your load. Think carefully about what you need on a journey. If you do not need something, do not pack it. Remove roof racks if not needed, as they create wind drag. The lighter the load, the lower the fuel consumption and emissions. An extra 100 pounds in the trunk reduces a typical car’s fuel economy by 1 to 2 per cent. Carrying excess weight wastes gas.
7. Avoid “revving” the engine. This is especially true just before you switch the engine off; this wastes fuel needlessly and washes oil down from inside the cylinder walls. This is really bad thing for the next start up, as the cylinder walls will be dry.
8. Drive steadily. Braking and quickly accellerating both waste fuel. It is best to avoid tailgating as well. Not only is it unsafe, but it affects your economy if the driver ahead slows down unexpectedly.
9. One pedal at a time. This may sound obvious, but do not rest your left foot on the brake pedal while driving. The slightest pressure puts “mechanical drag” on components, wearing them down prematurely. This “dragging” also demands additional fuel usage to overcome the drag.
10. Avoid rough roads whenever possible. This is because dirt or gravel can rob you of up to 30 per cent of your gas mileage. Every time the wheels bounce up and down, your vehicle is robbed of momentum. The best way I can describe this is to experience driving on a “washboard” road. Not only is it very uncomfortable, the vehicle will actually slow down from the transfer of energy. This causes the driver to apply more throttle, which means wasted fuel.
11. Tires are key. SUV owners should consider switching from an aggressive patterned off-road tread to a fuel efficient highway tread.
These are some of our observations and responses to the many questions we receive about fuel economy. I’m sure you have your own and I would invite everyone that reads this to add their experiences on the comments below. We would love to hear your thoughts.