AutosHow to cut fuel costs: Easy tips every driver should know

How to cut fuel costs: Easy tips every driver should know

Fuel consumption at the level of 6 l/100 km instead of 9 l/100 km? In some cases, it is possible.
Fuel consumption at the level of 6 l/100 km instead of 9 l/100 km? In some cases, it is possible.
Images source: © Tomasz Budzik

12:57 PM EDT, June 27, 2024

Would you like your car to consume up to 30% less fuel? It may seem unrealistic, but small changes in habits can bring significant savings. While implementing one of these tips may not yield a significant effect, combining several can result in surprising outcomes.

Prepare the car

Fuel-efficient driving starts with car maintenance. The first step is to ensure the proper tire pressure. Too low pressure increases rolling resistance, which raises fuel consumption. With a pressure of 0.5 bar lower, fuel consumption rises by about 5%.

Next, attention should be given to the vehicle's technical condition. In gasoline cars, maintaining the ignition system is essential. A dirty air filter and old spark plugs can increase fuel consumption by up to 10%. Removing unnecessary luggage from the car is also worth it, mainly dismantling unused roof racks.

Don't be afraid of a high gear and neutral

Modern cars often have a gear shift assistant that informs you when to change to a higher gear. Following this advice is crucial since contemporary engines are designed to operate at low RPMs.

Shifting to a higher gear at 2,000 RPM or slightly more can reduce fuel consumption. For example, at a speed of 30 mph, the difference between driving in third and fifth gear is about 30%. Of course, high gear is only for maintaining speed; when accelerating, you need to downshift.

Another essential habit is using engine braking and neutral gear. When approaching red lights or driving downhill, braking using the engine is beneficial. In this case, fuel is not supplied to the engine, which saves fuel and reduces wear on brake discs and pads.

Don't be afraid to use neutral. Many cars with automatic transmissions have a "coasting" mode, equivalent to neutral. Neutral is helpful for short stretches at low speeds, such as in residential areas or when gently slowing down before an exit ramp. Just make sure you’re not impeding traffic.

Look ahead

Besides technical issues, prudence behind the wheel matters a lot. Look at the road, not just the car in front of you. If you see a red light from afar, don't accelerate. Sometimes, it’s advisable to pay attention to the pedestrian signal. When the green light starts flashing, it will soon change for cars.

It maintains a reasonable distance from the vehicle in front when driving on highways. This allows you to react efficiently to other drivers' maneuvers and save fuel. Additionally, it enhances safety.

Use air conditioning wisely

In the summer, drivers often wonder whether it's better to turn on the air conditioning or open the windows. GM has proven that opening windows is more economical at lower speeds. However, given the deterioration of aerodynamics, air conditioning is a better solution for highway use and should also be used wisely.

On hot days, it’s worth opening the windows first, and only after driving a few hundred feet should you close them and turn on the air conditioning. This helps cool the car's interior more quickly.

The most straightforward advice is to reconsider whether you need the car every time. Maybe it's worth going shopping on foot or taking a bike to work? It’s cheaper and healthier.

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