AutosFuel consumption lowered by 30 percent. Every driver should know the basic rules

Fuel consumption lowered by 30 percent. Every driver should know the basic rules

Combustion. Counter
Combustion. Counter
Images source: © The text "WP" is already in English as it appears to be an abbreviation or acronym and does not require translation. | Tomasz Budzik

1:24 PM EDT, October 11, 2023

Each of us probably dreams of our car using 30 percent less fuel. But is that really possible? Do we have to give up on these dreams and return to reality? It turns out not necessarily.

Reducing fuel consumption is not only beneficial for those who care about the environment, but also for our wallets. A lot can be achieved simply by changing your habits. Implementing one of the points below may not bring significant results, but combining all of them will certainly bring the expected effects.

The first step should be preparing your car for economical driving. There's no point in trying to save fuel if our car's condition does not follow the manufacturer's recommendations. First and foremost, we should ensure the proper tire pressure. Driving on too low of a pressure increases resistance, which automatically leads to greater fuel consumption. If the pressure is about 7.25 psi lower than what the manufacturer recommends, the car will use approximately 5 percent more fuel.

Equally important is the technical condition of our vehicle. Regular filter replacement is the basic. In the case of cars with a gasoline engine, we should also take care of the ignition system. Dirty filters and faulty spark plugs can increase fuel consumption by up to about 10 percent.

We cannot forget about removing from the car things that we no longer need. If we don't need parts of the cargo being carried in the car daily or have been carrying a roof rack from a vacation, it's high time to get rid of them.

The next step is learning to drive at high gear and neutral. Most new cars are equipped with a gear assist. The onboard computer indicates the moment when you can shift to a higher gear. It's worth following these indications, because modern engines are adapted to work at low revolutions.

Shifting to a higher gear when the tachometer reads 2,000 rpm or a bit more is not necessarily a mistake. The car will respond with lower fuel consumption. When driving at about 31 mph, the difference in fuel consumption between the third and fifth gear could be as much as 30 percent. Of course, such a high gear ratio can only be used to maintain speed. Acceleration must be preceded by reduction.

Another important habit we should develop is engine braking and using neutral gear. When you approach lights displaying a red signal or descend a hill, it is worthwhile to use engine braking. The goal is to select such a gear that the car slows down or does not increase speed on this gear. Then the gas pedal is released, so no fuel is supplied to the engine. Additionally, we save on brake discs and pads.

We should not be ashamed to use the neutral gear. Many cars with automatic transmission have what is called a sailing mode, which is nothing more than the use of neutral. Neutral is useful when we want to cover a not too long distance with a constant and rather low speed - for example on a road in a residential area. You can also use neutral when you want to slow down slowly, for example before exiting the highway. However, we need to make sure that we will not hinder traffic.

Another aspect that we should pay attention to is prudence while driving. We should observe the road, not just the actions of the driver in front of us. If we see that at the traffic light 110 or 220 yards away, the light has changed to red, we should not speed up. While this may seem like a triviality, every day we can see drivers who do not follow this simple rule.

While approaching intersections, it's also worth paying attention to what light is on for pedestrians. If the green light at the crosswalks starts flashing, in a few seconds the light for cars will turn red. It's better to start engine braking rather than accelerating then. While traveling on national highways, it's also worth maintaining a safe distance from the car ahead. This allows us to react to its driver's actions in such a way as to use as little fuel as possible. This will also enhance our safety.

Another aspect that we should consider is the use of air conditioning. In the summer, drivers who want to save fuel often wonder which is the better solution: turning on the air conditioning or rolling down the windows? There is no simple answer to this question. According to research conducted by GM, rolling down the windows is a cheaper solution, but only at lower speeds. On the highway, the disruption to aerodynamics is so significant that turning on the air conditioning is a more fuel-efficient solution. However, it is important to remember to use it moderately.

In the spring and summer, the sun strongly heats the interior of a car left in the open air. When we get into such a car, it is first worth rolling down the windows and only after driving a few hundred yards, roll them up and turn on the air conditioning. In this way, we will get rid of the heated air.

We should not set the air conditioning, especially for short trips, to an extremely low temperature. It is best if it is no more than 37-41 degrees Fahrenheit below the outside temperature. Not only is this healthier, but it also saves money. So, should we suffer on a hot summer day, avoiding the use of air conditioning or setting an uncomfortably high temperature during a long trip? Of course not. The most important thing is the driver's comfort, because it directly affects safety.

In the end, the simplest advice. If you want to save fuel, consider whether you need a car every time. If you are going for small shopping a few hundred yards away, maybe it's better to walk? Are you commuting to work alone? If the weather permits, perhaps it's worth to ride a bicycle? It's definitely a cheaper and healthier solution.

See also