There are some fundamentals to consider when driving your car that will invariably influence your fuel economy. Drive with care and you can save money with every kilometre! Factors that greatly influence fuel economy are:
- Engine type (the more cylinders, the more power you are likely to have, but you’ll also churn through petrol)
- Weight of the car (and the load you carry)
- Transmission (manual transmissions are usually a bit more efficient depending on the skill of the driver and the age of the car)
- Air conditioning
- Electrical systems such as headlights, battery charging, media systems and speakers
So is the obvious choice to buy a car with a smaller engine? Not quite. It is possible that a four cylinder engine driving down the highway could use more petrol than a six or eight cylinder engine. Basically the more powerful engines can operate at higher speeds with less effort, and will therefore cost you less in petrol. By the same token though, a V8 will use more fuel when driven in peak hour traffic or in the suburbs at 40kmph, while a four cylinder vehicle will last much longer. There are exceptions to both cases, but take the above as a basic rule.
Slow is smooth and smooth is fast
If you accelerate aggressively in an automatic or ride the lower gears in a manual to speed your car up quickly, that’s when you use up the most fuel. The golden rule is to corner and accelerate smoothly – so use all of your gears when accelerating and try and have your car resting on a low RPM (engine rotations per minute). However, a low RPM can cause the engine to labour – which can cause some long term damage, so make sure you’re always in the correct gear for the right situation.
Trim the fat
Items like roof racks will impact your fuel economy by creating drag. You can save 5% of your fuel by reducing the load your vehicle carries, so why not do it? This does not mean you should leave your spare tyre at home. Speaking of tyres, they should be pumped up to the maximum of the manufacturer’s recommended range. This improves fuel economy as well as handling. Also, Low Rolling Resistance (or LRR) tires distribute weight more efficiently than a regular tyre. Because of this, they use up to 5% less fuel than normal tires with no discernable loss of performance.
Stuck in traffic? Turn off, tune in and chill out
When you’re in a traffic jam, turn off your car to save some fuel. You will use more fuel having your car idle than you would restarting the engine. This doesn’t mean you have to sit in your car in silence, just turn the key one notch anticlockwise until the engine cuts out and you’ll still be able to use the radio.
Air-con, or roll down the windows?
Some people are confused about whether they use more petrol fighting aero-dynamic drag with the windows down, or by using the air conditioning unit. Well, when you’re travelling at speeds in excess of 80 kilometres per hour then yes, air-con is the way to go. However, when driving at speeds less than 80 kilometres per hour your air conditioning unit will add 10% extra fuel consumption to your mileage.
Convert your car to gas
While this is an extreme option, it may be your saving grace if you want a vehicle for a long time and are looking to save. Liquid Petroleum Gas (or LPG) is cheap in comparison to rising fuel costs, is better for your engine and is kinder to the environment. The downside is you’ll burn through it quicker and power output can be affected. It also costs up to $4000 to convert your car…and the tank has to go in the boot.
And the best advice of all…
Drive smarter by driving less, car-pooling, or taking the bus! How do you save money on fuel? Did you switch to a more fuel efficient car Also see our Service Stations customer satisfaction results and Canstar Blue Motoring awards.