Fuel Consumption Techniques
How to improve your fuel consumtion
If you own a vehicle, and it is not an electric vehicle, then fuel and fuel price hikes are an integral part of your existence and your budget. Many people do their best to stretch their budget each month, yet they forget that there are ways in which they can stretch the kilometres they get from a tank of fuel. If you want to lighten your budget in this area, and reduce weekly fuel costs, then we advise you to continue reading.
At Steves Auto Clinic, leader in the field of automotive repairs and servicing, we do not only care for vehicles but we also care about vehicle owners, that is why we continue to create platforms on which we can give relevant information that may save the owner from suffering unnecessary costly expenses, but also from a lot of unnecessary headaches.
In this article will look at fuel consumption, or as some may call it, fuel economy. When it comes to practising fuel consumption saving techniques, the mind-set of vehicle owners may predominantly be driven by financial reasons. If I drive better, and I reduce my fuel consumption, then I will save some money that I can spend on something else or even save. There is another driving force behind the mind-set of fuel consumption reduction, and we hope that this ethos will predominate the financially driven one in time to come – it is the environmental impact. A reduction in fuel consumption will result in a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions as well as your carbon footprint. The negative impact that fossil fuels have on the planet, is non-refutable, it is a given, the only thing we can do (apart from going the bicycle-way, or buying electric or hybrid vehicles) is to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels to a maximum.
You can lessen the fuel consumption of your vehicle in many ways, and we will gladly share these ways with you.
Fuel Consumption Reduction
Rob Macgregor (2018) suggests twenty ways in which you can address better fuel consumption. These suggestion flows forth from the responses to many questions about fuel economy he had to entertain. We will use these suggestions as the basis of our discussion, and add to it whenever the need for that arise.
Under-inflated tyres burn more fuel, so check your vehicle’s tyre pressure frequently.
When you fill up, make sure you allow all the fuel to pour out of the nozzle into the tank. Premature removal may result in fuel spillage that you paid for.
When appropriate, use it on the highway or on an open road because it can save you up to 6% in fuel consumption.
Corroded battery cables
These can cause the alternator to work harder and use more fuel. Have them cleaned with each engine check-up.
Unnecessary idling consumes fuel that could be spent on driving; it also pumps needless carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Make sure to check the condition of the air filter and change it whenever required. A clean air filter will allow the airflow to go back to the proper level to mix with the fuel, and by replacing a dirty air filter; you may increase your vehicle’s fuel consumption considerably.
Have a regular engine check-up to ensure that fuel consumption and combustion related components, such as spark plugs, oxygen sensor, air and fuel filters, are still in a good working condition.
The oxygen sensor in the exhaust system is a device that trims the fuel delivery; as such, it has a profound effect on fuel economy. It is important to replace this sensor just as you would with the spark plugs, following the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Driving in the highest gear possible without labouring the engine is a fuel-efficient way of driving. It is estimated that if you drive at 60 km/h in third gear, a vehicle may use 25% more fuel than if you drove in fifth gear. Travelling fast in low gears may also consume up to 45% more fuel than is needed. If you have an “instant fuel economy” setting in your vehicle, then watch this gauge and keep the litres per 100 kilometres as low as you can.
Observe your environment, drive smoothly, apply light throttle and avoid heavy braking. In this way, you can reduce both fuel consumption and wear and tear. Research suggests that driving techniques can influence fuel efficiency by as much as 30%.
Lighten your load
Think before you load. If you do not need something on a journey, then do not pack it. Remove roof racks if not needed because they create wind drag. The lighter the load, the lower the fuel consumption and emissions.
Correct fuel octane
Check the manual your vehicle to find out what octane your engine needs. The higher the octane, the more expensive it is. Resist the urge to buy a higher grade of octane for “premium” performance.
Plan your trips
Combine errands into one trip instead of jumping off to the shops every so often. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer multipurpose trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm. Planned trips will save you time and money.
You can improve your fuel consumption by up to 2% if you use the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil. Thicker oil is harder to pump, which adds to parasitic horsepower loss. Always use the correct motor oil.
People tend to rev the engine unnecessarily, especially just before switching the engine off; this wastes fuel and washes oil down from inside the cylinder walls. This is bad for the next start up as the cylinder walls will be dry.
Slowing down or speeding up wastes fuel. Avoid tailgating. Not only is it unsafe, if also affects your economy if the other driver unexpectedly slows down.
Brake pedal rest
Do not rest your left foot on the brake pedal while driving. The slightest pressure puts “mechanical drag” on components, wearing them down prematurely and demanding additional fuel usage to overcome the drag.
Avoid rough roads whenever possible. Dirt or gravel can have a negative impact on consumption. Every time the wheels bounce up and down, forward motion energy is removed from the vehicle. This causes the driver to apply more throttle, and that is wasted fuel.
Suspension and chassis
Inspect suspension and chassis for misalignment. Bent wheels, axles, worn shocks, and broken springs can contribute to an unsafe driving condition and to drivetrain drag. Additional fuel will be needed to overcome this drag.
SUV owners should consider switching from an aggressive patterned off-road tread to a fuel-efficient highway tread if they are not using their SUVs for off-road driving.
In addition to these, you may also consider the following if you wish to reduce fuel consumption.
Air conditioning & heating
Unless it is necessary, try otherwise not to use the air conditioner willy-nilly. Using the air conditioner places a lot of stress on the engine, which amounts to higher fuel usage. This includes heated windscreens and demisters.
We looked at how gear position can affect fuel consumption. How can gear change affect this? It is estimated that if you change to a higher gear before 2000 rpm in a diesel and 2500 rpm in a petrol engine, without letting the engine struggle at low revs, you will have better fuel consumption.
Keep to the speed limit. Vehicles vary at which speed they are most efficient. A speed of 70 km/h may be far more efficient than at 80 km/h, for example.
Ensure that the gas cap seals properly. You surely do not want a precious commodity to be contaminated by oxygen leaking into the fuel tank.
When you near a downhill stretch of road, then consider removing your foot from the accelerator pedal, and simply “glide/coast” down until you need to accelerate again.
If windows are unnecessarily down, it will negatively affect the vehicle’s aerodynamics, and that will have the same effect on the fuel consumption.
The advice given thus far, all had to do with modifying your driving style or maintaining your vehicle, but there is another way to ensure better fuel consumption: modifying your engine by having it chipped.
The Unichip integrates with the vehicle’s existing engine control unit (ECU). It takes the data from the ECU and it translates it into better fuel efficiency, depending on the settings and the desires of the owner. By selecting the fuel consumption setting, your engine will still deliver more power than in the standard mode, but it will also use much less fuel. The improvement in consumption will immediately be evident in longer distances between tanks. An intervention such as this makes sense when it comes to improve your vehicle’s fuel consumption markedly.
If you combine all of these suggested methods, then you can be sure of treading more lightly on this planet and on your monthly budget. If you experience fuel economy that is not in line with that of other vehicles of the same make an model you have, then bring your vehicle to us. Entrust your vehicle with us at Steves Auto Clinic, where we have the expertise to inspect your vehicle and address the issue.
Sources consulted during the writing of this article:
- Macgregor, R. 2018. 20 ways to improve your car’s fuel efficiency. Online available at: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-drive/culture/commuting/20-ways-to-improve-your-cars-fuel-efficiency/article1379796/ Accessed on 18 August 2018.