Fuel Saving tips


In today’s article, I seek to reach out to automobile enthusiasts interested in getting value for their money spent on fuel circumventing odds to squeeze the most out of a litre of fuel.

Driving can be both exciting and exhausting, of course this depends on a lot of factors around driving, the road condition and behavior of your car or even whether your car is a manual or an automatic gear shift.

The approach and tips discussed in this article will produce different results depending on the vehicle engine size as well as the engine power and the overall weight of the car. Small things help a great deal and your success to make a saving will heavily rely on your discipline in observing our list of fuel saving tips.

Strive to form a good driving habit around this as humans way of doing things revolves around habits formed over a period of time.

The longer you have been driving, the more driving habits you acquire, unfortunately not all these habits are good ones thus making this document important to both those with and without much experience

For better and easier understanding, I shall sub-categorize this topic under the following headers and sub-headers.

1. Car conditioning

a. Tires – Size (Diameter, width, Thread pattern)

Inflation- Properly inflated tires lower rolling resistance, they as well provide optimal breaking force.

Having certain size wheels on a vehicle can both improve and hinder performance levels, one of those levels being fuel economy. Wheel size is huge when it comes to fuel mileage, different wheel sizes affecting the weight of the car and the rolling resistance

b. Maintenance Service

Ensure you service your car regularly without fail, sometimes even before it hits the millage required. This goes a long way in keeping the car at tiptop condition in performance or in clearer words, on efficiency and maximum value your car can squeeze out of a drop of fuel.

2 most important elements are the fuel and the air filter, these can be changed at every 4500km to ensure efficiency at all times.

c. Suspension.

Firm suspensions improve not only handling of your car but goes a long way in improving your fuel efficiency. Inspect suspension and chassis parts for misalignment. Bent wheels, axles, worn shocks, and broken springs can contribute to drag, not to mention the unsafe condition they create.

d. Regular checks

Have your car tire balancing and alignment on check to give the car less resistance

e. Extra weight

Save on weight to save on fuel consumption, only pack essentials in the car, an extra gram translates to more milliliters off that valuable litre. Just as you wouldn’t wear a heavy rucksack unless you had to, don’t cart stuff around in the boot of your car unless you need it.

If you have a roof rack carrier, remove it when its not needed. Even if the rack is empty, it increases drag and makes your car use more fuel.

2. Driving Skills and Techniques

How you drive can significantly affect the amount of fuel you use, developing your fuel saving habits can increase your fuel economy and decrease your impact on the environment. Below are tips on knowledge, tips and skills for driving smarter,

a) Warming up the engine

While it is important to operate your engine at optimum temperatures, you do not necessarily have to warm the engine to optimum while on stationary however maintain the engine rave below the optimum rev after which you can resume revs above optimum without risking engine damage in modern cars. Letting your car idle for extended amounts of time wastes fuel. Raving the car while warming is as well wasteful of fuel.

b) Hard acceleration

Vehicles use a lot of fuel on acceleration, as the rate of acceleration increases, the more the amount of fuel will be required, accelerate slowly and smoothly to increase fuel economy and decrease omissions.

You don’t have to slam the pedal to the metal.

It is economical to drive at average speeds.

c) Hard, frequent, unnecessary braking

When you need to decelerate, lift off the accelerator as early as possible, to slow to a lower speed you might need not to bring the car to a complete stop. The harder the braking, the more tare and ware accompanied by higher consumption. Take in mind breaking is another master skill to be mastered. Avoid vehicle bounce backs when you break.

d) Switch off the car if you are planning to stop for more than a minute.

e) Distance between cars

Always maintain good distance between you and the car in-front of you, this not only reduces risk of accident but grants better control on intensity of break.

f) Shift up a gear

Always strive to drive on the higher gears once momentum required is attained

A simple rule for fuel saving shifting, 30kph in 3rd gear, 40 in 4th and so on, this is however only possible in manual cars.

Gear shift

g) Save on electrical load

Energy demanding devices require continuous flow of power directed at them, this not only deprives the engine a significant amount of power, but directly put a demand on the system.

Two of the most common culprits device are car seat heating and air conditioning, avoid use of it to save on fuel.

These increase fuel consumption by up to 10-15%

h) Plan your Journey

Planning your journey ensures minimal criss crossing routes as well as backs and fourths.

Every time that you stop and start in traffic, your car needs first gear and a huge amount of fuel to get moving again.

This allows you to avoid and plan around traffic, use google maps for better planning as it gives a clearer sense of planning.

Plan your errands in one journey, all in one trip to work, shopping, fueling and to the gym. While you wrote on your CV how good you are at multitasking, this is the best time to employ it.

I) Parking Skills

Extra back and forths while parking require more fuel and rely on the two most fuel thirsty gears in a car (1 and R)

Park on the reverse, this is easier when the parking lots have more space as they tend to be when you are pulling out, needing more back and forth hence fuel

j) Fuel minimum levels

Strive refuel when the tank is just about a quarter bar reading on the dash, Impurities and sediments form at the bottom of the tank which get sucked into the pump and filter, affecting both devices which reduce their efficiency. However this goes into adding the weight you have to carry around, but economical in the long run.

3. Other

a) Windows opening

Opened windows create extra drag and resistance on the car making it require more energy to cope with the wind, directly translating to fuel consumption. It’s not so much of a problem when you’re driving in town, but when you’re out of town or on the motorway and moving more quickly, the shape of your car is very important. Car designers call it aerodynamics and make lots of effort to reduce the ‘drag’ and make the car as sleek as possible. Anything that makes wind noise as your car goes along is actually making your car more expensive to run. You can’t do much about the design of your car, but you can avoid making it worse by not leaving the windows and sunroof open.

b) Fuel type

Different types of fuel perform differently on different cars, confirm between leaded and unleaded fuels whichever your manufacturer advises best.

c) Park in the shade

This reduces on fuel loss through evaporation in hot sunny days.

d) Corroded

Corroded battery cables cause the alternator to work more, ending up using more fuel. Have them cleaned.

e) Road surfaces

Avoid rough roads whenever possible, because dirt or gravel can rob you of up to 30 per cent of your fuel mileage. Every time the wheels bounce up and down, forward motion energy is removed from the vehicle.

f) Recommended Engine oil type.

You can improve your fuel mileage by one to two per cent by using the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil. For example, using 10W-30 motor oil in an engine designed to use 5W-30 can lower your fuel mileage by one to two per cent. Thicker oil is harder to pump. This adds to parasitic horsepower loses.

g) Exhaust system

If your car was built since the mid-1980s, chances are it has an oxygen sensor in its exhaust system. It should be replaced just as you would spark plugs, following the manufacturer’s recommendations. This little device trims the fuel delivery and has a profound effect on fuel economy in the process.

This goes hand in hand with the noisy exhausts we equip on our cars different from manufacturer specification.

Research suggests driving techniques can influence fuel efficiency by as much as 30 per cent.

Besides the list above, there is much more that can be considered on fuel saving tips beyond what my list entails adjust the list to fit your driving lifestyle depending on your experience and research findings.

Always remember

  1. Be smart on your driving
  2. Remember its both about you and the planet
  3. Fuel saving will translate to your driving behavior.
  4. Speeding might save you a few minutes, but the cost goes directly to your wallet.
  5. Some vehicles are more efficient than others
  6. Consider energy efficient cars, hybrids and electric cars have most of these fuel challenges already addressed.


Frank Odhiambo

Mind Grid Perspectives

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