One of the best ways to improve your fuel economy is through efficient driving.
Did you know that over half the fuel we consume is used for speeding, accelerating and braking?
When you start, accelerate, slow or stop your vehicle, you are changing the momentum of several hundred kilos of dead weight. This takes energy. The energy comes from burning fuel.
If you minimise rapid changes in speed and direction, you minimise fuel consumption. It will not only save you fuel costs — but also reduce wear and tear on your car’s engine, transmission, brakes and tyres, saving you even more money on running costs.
You will save fuel if you:
Smooth use of the accelerator is not only more comfortable for you and your passengers, it’s also a little more efficient (less scuffing of tyres and less energy loss through suspension movement). It’s also better for the longevity of the vehicle and is in general the sign of a skilled and efficient driver.
Avoid Heavy Breaking:
Minimise the need to brake by anticipating traffic conditions. Be alert for slow-downs, red lights and brakes being applied ahead of you. When driving, your attention should be as far down the road as possible. This gives you more time to react to changing conditions.
The enemy of efficient driving is hurry. Leave for your destination a little earlier so that you don’t feel the pressure to drive faster and brake harder. Driving efficiently is more relaxing than the typical person’s stop-go driving style —but you do need to allow that bit of extra time.
Use Gear Sensibly:
Sensible use of the gearbox is important. Driving in a lower gear than is necessary and revving the engine hard wastes fuel. Change up through the gears as soon as practical, though not so quickly that the engine labours.
Efficient driving requires you to anticipate changes in the road environment. Scan your intended path constantly. In city driving you should know what’s happening at least 10-15 seconds ahead. On the highway, at least 30 seconds visual lead-time is safer.
Adjust Your Seat:
Position your driver’s seat so that you are not too close to the pedals, while making sure you can still operate them comfortably. Being further back prevents you from mashing the fuel pedal and/or the brakes too heavily.
Use Cruise Control:
If your car is fitted with a cruise control, use it for highway driving to maintain a steady speed – efficient driving always saves fuel. Only use cruise control on flat roads, however. In hill country, it responds to changes in grade by feeding in more power on the uphill and releasing it on the descent. An efficient driver would slow for the upgrades and use the downgrades to gradually pick up speed again.
Stop-start driving is much less efficient and much more polluting than driving at a constant speed. Try not to travel during peak-hours and on congested roads. If you can drive at an earlier or later time, or use an alternative route to avoid heavy traffic, do so.
Maintain Optimum Speed:
Speeding can be, by itself, a big fuel waster. Reducing your speed from 70 mph or 112 km/h to 55 mph or 88 km/h can improve your fuel economy by a whopping 25%.
No matter what kind of vehicle you drive, eliminating weight can go a long way toward increasing your car’s fuel efficiency. The less weight there is in your car, the better the fuel mileage. One estimate is that each extra fifty kilos of weight can reduce fuel economy by up to 2%.