6 Tips to help you improve fuel economy
1. Take it easy on the accelerator
This comes without saying - the easier you are on the pedal, the lesser your engine has to work and the lesser fuel it uses. One of the reasons is drag. The faster you go, the greater the drag that you car has to overcome, and that translates to more work required, which means more fuel is being used.
Sudden acceleration will also burn more fuel, such as when you’re approaching traffic light with the yellow light on. A trick some drivers use to go gently on the pedal is to imagine an egg between their foot and the pedal. If you’re too aggressive on the pedal, the egg with crack and ruin your floor mats - so you have to be gentle. Neat trick ;)
2. Adhere to your vehicle’s recommended fuel type
Every vehicle has an owner’s manual which states the optimal fuel type for the vehicle. Unfortunately with marketing and branding nowadays, we are accustomed to think that higher grade fuel, or more expensive fuel is better for our cars. Unfortunately, this is not always true. For performance cars, yes they may require higher grade fuel to perform at its peak. For regular cars (which applies to most cars on the road), there is a recommended fuel type and octane rating.
Trust your owner’s manual ! This is because car manufacturers created and tested their cars, so they know best. Just be wary of lower grade fuel, which may affect your car’s performance as there are cars out there which are not supposed to be filled with fuel below a certain rating.
3. Reduce Weight
Drivers have a tendency to store their entire room’s worth of stuff in their cars. More stuff = more weight, which means your car has to work harder to overcome the weight (inertia) to get moving.
Imagine yourself carrying a 5kg bag. It’s relatively easy, right? Now increase that by another 5kg and you’ll be carrying a 10kg bag. You can still carry and move around with it, but you’ll be out of breath faster, pespire more and feel tired quicker as your body is working harder to move it around. That’s exactly what’s happening to your car. So if an item is not necessary, leave it at home !
Follow your manufacturer’s recommended max load weight as stated in the owner’s manual.
4. Inflate tires to their optimal pressure
This is probably one of the easiest ways to increase fuel economy. It is also something you as a driver have to do for safety reasons, as well as helping you to save money by prolonging the life of your tires.
Now back to the tire pressures - over time, as you drive around, some air will be lost in your tires and if you don’t pump them regularly, you’ll be driving around with less than optimal tire pressure. This increases the rolling resistance of your tires on the road, and decreases your fuel economy.
You don’t even have to go to the petrol station to get them checked, as some cars come with tire pressure monitors. If a tire’s pressure is low, it will roll at a different wheel speed as compared to the other tires, and this will be detected by the car’s computers which will give off a warning light.
If your car doesn’t come with it, there are plenty of 3rd party tire pressure monitoring systems that can make monitoring your tire pressures convenient. Some of them can even connect to your phone via bluetooth to give you real-time information on the tire pressure.
5. Use only recommended engine oil
When we say recommended, we mean the one stated in your vehicle owner’s manual. Today, there are tons of engine oil brands out there - with some claiming to provide better fuel economy, or improved engine performance. While some of these products may deliver on their promises, they may not be specific to your vehicle type.
Manufacturers on the other hand, have tested their vehicles and have identified the engine oil type to use for optimum performance and engine longevity. Experimenting with different engine oils may be fine, but they come at a risk. If your engine is unable to adapt to the engine oil that you have filled it with, it may cause problems down the line - such as added friction between the moving parts of the engine. If left unchecked, the engine may be damaged - and fixing or rebuilding an engine can be very costly!
6. Avoid idling your car
What exactly does idling mean? Simply put - The engine is running, but the car is not. And we as drivers do it everyday - such as when we are at a red light or waiting for a friend.
While the rate of fuel consumption while idling depends from car to car, in general an idling car uses somewhere between 0.5 up to 1.2 litres of fuel per hour. An idling engine for even around 10 seconds is recorded to use more fuel than the engine restart - which can help to explain why there are more ‘start/stop’ features being introduced in newer cars. This feature will shut off the engine when the car is completely stopped (e.g at a red light) to help save fuel.
Lastly, idling your car in Singapore is an offence ! with 5,100 enforcement cases in 2015. If caught leaving their engines idling, motorists may be faced with a fine of $100.