Fuel and engine oil additives are developed to keep engines running longer, more efficiently and with lower emissions. Some additives have been claimed to improve fuel efficiency by as much as 20% although this is rarely verified by users.
Do your calculations first to see if it’s cost-effective to invest in a certain additive and check with fellow motorists who have successfully tried it before purchasing such products.
Aggressive driving behavior such as “jackrabbit” starts from traffic lights and hard braking may reduce travel time by about 5% (hey, that’s just 3 minutes out of an hour’s trip) but may increase fuel consumption by 40%!
Aggressive driving saves you a little time, increases your blood pressure, wastes fuel, increases emissions and causes excessive engine and brake wear. It may also increase your chances of involving in a road accident!
Air conditioning could easily add 10% to your fuel consumption. Turning off the aircon in the morning or on a cool day helps save fuel. Parking under a shade will also lighten the load on the aircon later.
However, at speeds above 70kmh on an expressway, it is more fuel-efficient to turn on the aircon than to wind down the window.
Replacing a dirty air filter will improve your fuel economy by as much as 10% and protect your engine. The air filter keeps out the impurities, which can damage your engine in the long run.
Body kits look great and help in stability control at high speed but increase the drag and make your engine works harder.
Your engine does not run efficiently until it’s warmed up, and it’ll take longer for the engine to warm up in cold weather. In winter, use a block heater to warm your engine before starting it. Block heaters can improve fuel economy by as much as 10% in winter.
You’ve learned this when you were 10 years old – a dark colored object absorbs more heat than a light colored one. Here is a dark colored car makes the aircon works harder on a hot day, which in turn consumes more fuel.
Audiovisual system, air purifier and ionizer, mobile phone charger, fancy cabin lighting and navigation system all take up electricity.
Some cars come with cruise control. Do use cruise control on an expressway to help you maintain a constant speed and then saves fuel.
If you notice your car consumes more fuel slowly, get your mechanic to conduct diagnostic checks on your car. The ignition timing could be off or there could be leakage in the fuel system.
Poor driving habits are the most common and major contributor to low fuel efficiency.
Accelerate to cruising speed as soon as possible and maintain that speed for as long as possible. However, during the run-in periods of new cars, most manufacturers advise against maintaining at a constant speed for too long. Consult your owner’s manual on the run-in period of your car.
Automatic transmission will shift up quicker and smoother if you release shortly on the accelerator once the car gains momentum.
Avoid hard braking. Do not drive with your left foot resting on the brake pedal, it increases fuel consumption and causes excessive brake wear. It can also be dangerous because it leads to heat buildup in the brakes, thus reducing the braking power.
Do not drive haphazardly with numerous abrupt stops and quick starts. Do not follow the front vehicle too closely so as to avoid frequent braking and acceleration. Remember, you want to maintain constantly at cruising speed for as long as possible.
Rushing up to a red light and then having to brake at the last minute is an expensive bad habit that wastes fuel and wears out the brakes. When you approach a junction, release your foot from the accelerator pedal well in advance to slow down your vehicle. If there’s a red light, it may turn green by the time you reach there, so you do not even have to stop. It’s definitely more fuel efficient to accelerate from 10kmh than from a standstill at the stop line.
Increase your acceleration before going up a slope so that the momentum helps push the car uphill. Avoid trying to increase speed while climbing the hill as your engine is already working hard to overcome gravity. Ease off the accelerator pedal when approaching the top of a hill, you will typically pick up speed on a downhill.
Avoid potholes and rough surfaces. It can be hard on your tires and wheel alignment, which in turn can reduce fuel efficiency. If you can not avoid such surfaces, drive over slowly but with your foot completely off the brake pedal.
Slow down before cornering. A quick corner can be dangerous and wears your tires unnecessarily.
Generally smaller engines with fewer cylinders are more efficient than larger ones with more cylinders.
Your fuel mileage can increase by 1 to 2% if you use the manufacturer’s recommended grade of engine oil. Using inappropriate engine oil can lower your fuel mileage by 1 to 2%. Sometimes it can even damage your engine.
Synthetic oils are also preferred over mineral oils, especially if you drive under extreme weather or performance conditions. Synthetic oil is specifically formulated to have good flow characteristics and resistance to viscosity breakdown.
A poorly tuned engine burns more fuel. Incorrect fuel ratio, bad spark plugs and incorrect spark timing can have an adverse effect on your fuel efficiency.
Four Wheel Drive
4WD or AWD vehicles are less fuel efficient than 2WD ones. Always engage 2WD as far as possible. Although 4WD offers better traction and braking on a wet road, the weight and friction of the additional drivetrain parts can increase fuel consumption by 5 to 10% compared to 2WD vehicles.
Fog Lamps Fog lamps take up electricity. Only switch on the fog lamps during heavy downpours or in hazy conditions. In some countries, it is an offense to switch on the fog lamps indiscriminately as it causes unnecessary glare to other motorists.
It is not advisable to leave your tank low on fuel most of the time, as this may increase the chances of corrosion in the tank thereby adversely affecting the fuel quality as well as damaging your fuel system. Try to top up to full tank as soon as possible before the indicator shows half-tank.
Fuel Tank Cap
Make sure the fuel tank cap is closed tightly each time after refueling. Fuel may be lost through evaporation from a loosely closed cap.
Always engage handbrake while stationary on an up-slope rather than using accelerator-clutch control (manual) or accelerator control (auto).
Some cars allow you to adjust the intensity of the headlamps. To save fuel, use higher intensity lighting only on poorly lit roads or driving in a heavy downpour.
High-Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps are more energy efficient, brighter and allow you to see almost twice as far ahead compared to standard halogen lighting. However they may be too glaring to other motorists. Check with your local regulators or dealers on the approved range of HID headlamps. Some manufacturers have incorporated an auto-levelling feature which automatically adjusts the headlamp angle and direction based on road and driving conditions.
Hybrid cars combine the benefits of petrol engines and electric motors to provide better fuel efficiency. Do your calculations as the higher price of hybrids may not offset the savings from lower fuel consumption. Nearestheless hybrid cars are kinder to the environment. Some building owners have privileged parking lots near the entrance or lift lobby for hybrid cars as a sign of support for greener motorists. The engine of a hybrid provides most of the power, and the electric motor provides additional power when needed, such as for accelerating and passing. This allows a smaller, more-efficient engine to be used. You save on road tax on your 1300 cc hybrid car which probably will have the same power as an 1800 cc car of the same make and model. The electric power for the motor is generated from regenerative braking and from the petrol engine, so hybrids do not have to be “plugged in” to an electrical outlet to recharge.
Idling consumes fuel unnecessarily and pollutes the environment. Turn off the engine if you have to wait for more than one minute. Most modern cars do not require you to warm up the engine by letting it idle. Just drive off slowly and stay light-footed on the accelerator pedal for the initial few minutes.
Regular servicing helps maintain the engine for optimum performance. This can result in 10 to 20% improvement in fuel consumption.
Once a month you should perform the following checks to help identify problems that can cost you fuel and money down the road:
- Check tyre pressure.
- Check around the car and under the engine for fluid leaks.
- Check fluid levels, including engine oil, engine coolant, transmission fluid and power steering fluid, according to the instructions in the owner’s manual.
- Check under the bonnet for cracked or split spark plug wires, cracked radiator hoses or loose clamps and corrosion around the battery terminals.
- Check for problems with the brakes. On a straight, flat and quiet stretch of road, rest your hands lightly on the steering wheel and apply the brakes gradually. If the car swerves to one side, one of the brake linings may be worn more than the other, or the brakes may need adjustment.
- Check for wheel alignment. On a straight, flat and quiet stretch of road, rest your hands lightly on the steering wheel and drive at an even speed. If the car pulls to one side, the wheels may be misaligned.
New cars are generally more fuel-efficient than older ones of the same make and model. The higher purchase price of a new car may be offset by lower fuel consumption and lower maintenance costs in the long run. You also get to enjoy the peace of mind as your new car is covered by the manufacturer’s warranty in the first few years.
Always use the appropriate grade of fuel as recommended in your owner’s manual. Do not use a higher-octane fuel than your engine’s requirement. Higher-octane fuel costs more but may not necessarily make your car more powerful, perform better, go faster, have better fuel mileage or release lower emission. Refueling
Do not overfill your fuel tank. Stop when the pump automatically shuts off. If you continue to refuel after the pump has shut off, you increase the chance that you will spill the fuel and damage your car’s paintwork. Spilling also wastes fuel and pollutes the environment through the release of harmful vapors into the air.
Always plan to minimize trips and mileage. Walk, cycle, carpool, or take public transport where possible.
Frequent short trips can reduce fuel economy. On short trips, your vehicle operates a smaller proportion of time at the desired temperature. Plan ahead to reduce the number of trips and mileage. Combine multiple errands into a single trip. This will reduce cold engine running (which increases fuel consumption by up to 40% over a short trip).
Plan and time your trips to avoid peak-hour traffic, congestion, construction, roadwork, gated crossings, etc.
It’s more fuel-efficient cruising on expressways than start-stop city driving. It is more fuel economical to take a slightly longer route via an expressway than a shorter route through many traffic lights.
Avoid waiting in long drive-through lines, eg at fast-food restaurants. Park your car and walk over.
Rear Screen Demister
Switch it on only when necessary. It can increase fuel consumption by 3 to 5%.
Do not rev the engine. Revving the engine is unnecessary, wastes fuel, pollutes the environment and annoys others. It may also result in increased engine wear and overheats the catalytic converter.
Roof Racks Remove roof racks and rack loads when not required and easily save 5 to 10% in fuel.
Good quality solar films on the windows will improve the occupants’ comfort and can reduce cabin heat, so lightening the load on the aircon.
Most modern cars already have reasonably good sound insulation. Sound cladding may make the cabin quieter but adds more weight to your car and makes the engine works harder.
Spark plugs ignite the air-fuel mixture in your engine. If the plugs are worn out or malfunctioned, the engine will misfire. This will lead to incomplete burning of fuel and produces higher levels of emissions.
Speed has one of the greatest effects on fuel consumption. The wind resistance generated while traveling at 100kmh is about twice that traveling at 70kmh.
Generally, the most fuel-efficient speed is between 70kmh and 90kmh for most cars. Nevertheless, always keep within the speed limits. Driving at 90kmh instead of 110kmh saves up to 25% on fuel. Sports Rims: Replacing factory-fitted rims with sports rims tend to reduce fuel economy.
Control your throttle so that you travel as fast as possible while the engine works the least. Theoretically, this is the speed that your car is traveling just as it shifts into overdrive (or 5th gear in a manual transmission).
Transmission Cars with manual transmission have better fuel economy over those with automatic transmission. By shifting a manual transmission properly, you can expect to use 5 to 10% less fuel than if the vehicle had an automatic transmission.
The manual advantage tends to be greatest on small cars with four-cylinder engines; Larger vehicles tend to benefit less from a manual transmission.
Continuously variable transmission (CVT), which is a form of automatic transmission that uses belts and pulleys instead of gear wheels to allow an infinite number of gears (the more gears the better), has achieved some success in reducing fuel consumption.
A small car with turbo has an added advantage in fuel efficiency but it should not be driven aggressively.
Always maintain your tire pressure according to the manufacturer’s recommendation. Under-inflated tires cause more frictional wear and lower fuel efficiency. Over-inflating the tires may help to save a little more fuel but can be dangerous on wet roads.
Rotating your tires at regular intervals ensures a more even wear on each tyre. This helps to prolong their lifespan and improvements fuel economy. For most cars, the tires should be rotated every 10,000 km. Check your owner’s manual for the recommended rotation pattern and frequency.
Bigger tires give better road handling but translate into lower fuel efficiency due to higher rolling resistance (friction).
Wash & Wax
A layer of dirt and dust on the car surface increases drag. Regular washing helps improve fuel efficiency a little and goes a long way in maintaining the paintworks. A clean car body may reduce drag by up to 12%. Some drivers believe waxing will further reduce drag.
Items that you do not often need to be removed from the car rather than leaving them in the boot. An extra 50kg increases fuel consumption by 2%.
Misaligned wheels will drag instead of roll freely, which increases fuel consumption and causes problems with your car’s handling. The tires also suffer uneven wear.
Winding down the windows when cruising on expressways increases drag or wind resistance. Closing the windows and sunroofs can help you save 5 to 7% in fuel.
Electronic Fuel Injection
Cars using EFI are more fuel efficient than those using carburetors. A fuel injector is an electronically controlled valve. It is supplied with pressurized fuel by the fuel pump in your car, and it is capable of opening and closing many times per second.
The advantage of sequential fuel injection is that if the driver makes a sudden change, the system can respond more quickly because of the time the change is made, it only has to wait only until the next intake valve opens, instead of for the next complete Revolution of the engine.