Recent supply and demand changes within the oil industry have meant the entire world has witnessed a significant drop in fuel prices. Brent Crude Oil through out 2013 and most of 2014 has been priced at US$120 per barrel. But, within recent months that price has dropped significantly, to around US$61 as of Christmas Eve, December 2014.
All those savvy savers out there looking high and low for more ways to save money and this one just lands right on our laps. In line with the 50% reduction in the oil price, I was interested to see how I could take advantage of this situation to further compound these savings by following some general driving tips aimed at improved fuel efficiency.
Most engines such as generators and lawn mowers provide less opportunity to determine how much fuel they consume, based on their low demands on the engine. Yet with a car, there are a number of tips you can incorporate into your driving technique to make that full tank take you even further. Below are some of the tips I have found which appeared to offer the best advice on improving fuel efficiency.
Idle Fuel Wastage
Warming up the engine before you set off is a thing of the past, unless your car was built in the 70’s or 80’s you can forget this method, it simply wastes fuel. Also, when waiting for prolonged periods of time, having the engine switched off, even for a brief period of time, is more efficient than idling. The short fuel burst to start the engine and the increased wear and tear of engine via this practice is negligible.
Minimal Vehicle Use
The catalytic converter in a car reduces the emissions it puts out, but they do not work efficiently until they warm up. Trips of less than 5km generally do not allow it to warm up enough to improve fuel efficiency. So try to avoid numerous errands under 5km and accomplish all errands in one big trip when possible.
Driving in a lower gear than needed wastes fuel, whilst climbing a hill and taking a corner in too high a gear also labours the engine and burns excessive amounts. In a manual vehicle try to change gear as soon as the car feels ready, and in an automatic, gear changes will be smoother if you take your foot slightly off the accelerator, all which lead to more fuel efficiency.
Driving at a steady speed is much more efficient than stopping and starting, consider avoiding journeys during rush hours wherever possible. If this is difficult, try to reduce the revs of the car and leave a good distance between you and the car in front. Greater space will allow you to anticipate and adjust your speed to keep the momentum of the car and not come to a stop. Slowing and then returning back to cruising speed is much more efficient than stopping and returning.
Vehicles are specifically designed to run most efficiently when cruising at around 90km/h. Cruising at 110km/h increases your consumption by 25%. The cruise control feature will also help maintain a steadier speed and increase your tanks range on highway driving.
Things affecting the airflow over the vehicle such as roof racks, spoilers and even open windows increase air resistance and burn more fuel. An open window at higher speeds for example can decrease efficiency by 20%.
Inflating your tyres to the highest recommended pressure by your manufacture will decrease friction and extend the life of the cars shoes. Wheel alignment will also help the car roll with more fluidity.
That cool air in the summer comes at a cost of up to 10% extra, so use it sparingly. However, when using the air-conditioning at higher speeds of over 80km/h it is more efficient than having the window open due to drag. A quick tip to save a little extra is, when starting off open the windows to let the car cool down before using the air-con.
Weight is directly related to consumption, the more you carry the more you burn. Don’t use your vehicle as a mobile storeroom and remove the items you don’t use regularly. Items such as heavy sports equipment and tools that can sit at home should stay there when necessary to make your car go further.
Vehicles in Good Condition
A well-tuned and maintained vehicle will go that extra mile for you. Use the manufacturer’s recommended service guide to keep your car at optimum performance levels. Also, use the fuel recommended, as applying a higher-octane alternative will potentially increase performance but more likely increase consumption.
Combining the above ten tips will hopefully empower you to make your fuel go that little further, plus give you a little more insight into how and where to look if your car does start consuming more fuel suddenly. If you have any other tips that you feel have not been mentioned here, please let us know.