This is a very interesting topic that cuts across the globe. We have various fallacies about what and what not in terms of fuel consumption, efficiency and economy. If you ask an average Nigerian mechanic about what consumes fuel in a vehicle, he will reply by saying “Airconditioner and Low gear”. While he is not totally wrong, am telling you with all sincerity of purpose(especially with millennium cars) that we have many more factors that contribute to high fuel consumption in a vehicle. A big shout out to my Nigerian brothers as well as all my people across the world where we have low per capita income. It is not easy refuelling a car, it is even more discouraging when your fuel just vanishes in no time.
You can boost the overall fuel-efficiency of your car as much as 30% by simple vehicle maintenance and attention to your style of driving.
Here are some tips on fuel-efficient driving that will not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants but could save you hundreds of dollars a year in fuel costs.
HOW TO GET THE BEST FUEL EFFIEICENCY FROM YOUR CAR
Before I proceed, I will love to say this; some vehicles are designed to naturally consume more fuel that the others. For example, A Toyota Prius consumes more fuel both on highways and in the city than a honda civic 2000+. While Toyota Prius 2007 model has a combined mpg(miles per gallon) of 46mpg of which it boast of 48mpg in the city and 45mpg on highway, honda city 2007 has 23 combined MPG, 20 in city / 29 in highway. Many factors are responsible for stock fuel consumption in different vehicles even by the same manufacturer. For example, a V6 will originally consume more fuel that a 4 inline engine while a v8 engine will use more fuel than a v6.
- The very first move that you must make in other to make your car to be fuel efficient is to know how much fuel your car should consume under normal driving condition. The singular more will help you keep track of your fuel usage and your odometer and fuel gauge will be available to help out. How do I know how much fuel my car should consume? The answer is, through your car’s manual or through reputable sites like www.cars.com, www.edmund.com. Know your car’s mpg even before buying it will help a lot. Even if you are very rich, you still need this so as to determine or detect wasteful drivers.
- Use only the type of fuel recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer: some car requires premium fuel, some require regular unleaded fuel. the two sites I mentioned above have the full details of every vehicle produced in Asia or Europe. If your car manufacturers recommended premium gas, please get a premium gas or get an octane booster for the regular ones available to you. You should occasionally use quality injector cleaners if your tank is dirty and your injector old.
Do the service of your vehicle regularly: Many car manufacturer’s will always instruct that, a poorly tuned engine can use up to 50% more fuel and produces up to 50% more emissions than one that is running properly.
Air filters: Dirty air filters can also cause your engine to run at less than peak efficiency Regular visual checks of the air filter will tell you if it needs replacing and your owner’s manual will also recommend appropriate replacement intervals. Clogged filters can cause up to a 10% increase in fuel consumption.
Oil: Using the correct viscosity oil is important because higher viscosity oils have greater resistance to the moving parts of the engine(If you manuals say 5w 20 synthetic, please try and use that oil viscosity. A car that is designed to use 5w20 oil viscosity may suffer if it uses a 20w50 base /conventional oil), and therefore use more gas. Clean oil also contributes to better gas mileage. It is usually recommended that engine oil be changed every three to five thousand miles.
- Use your Air Conditioner Sparingly; This caution about A/C IS MORE PARTICULAR WITH OLD CARS OR CARS WITH MAKESHIFT A/CUsing a vehicle’s air conditioner on a hot summer day can increase fuel consumption as much as 10% in city driving. If it’s cool enough, use the flow-through ventilation on your car(I mean your windows and sunroof) instead of the air conditioner. At low speeds, opening the window will also save reduce fuel consumption by reducing A/C use. At higher speeds or like 60kph, however, using the A/C may be more efficient than the wind resistance from open windows and sunroof.
Later model cars have more efficient air conditioning units, and the fuel saved by shutting down the A/C is not significant. In newer vehicles, roll up the windows and enjoy the A/C during hot weather.
- Do not joke with your 02/ Oxygen sensors and the A/f sensors: These two are very important to fuel efficiency, In fact, if one of them is faulty, your engine light will turn on. Do not allow those quack mechanics disconnect or remove your o2 sensors(for reference, these sensors are like a spark plug and they are screw tightly into the exhaust manifold) Some local mechanics call them indomie. They are small but very useful. beware.
- Change or repair your catalytic converter as soon as it get clogged/ Blogged: This is also part of the exhaust /emission system it has materials that look like a honeycomb inside of it. it is joined to the main tailpipe and it connects to the engine block. If it gets blocked, your engine loses power and consumes more fuel
- MONITOR POWER ACCESSORIES: Be sure to shut off all power-consuming accessories before turning off the ignition. That way, you decrease the engine load the next time you start up. Items that plug into your vehicle’s cigarette lighter, such as TV consoles for mini-vans and SUVs, can cause the alternator to work harder to provide electrical current. This adds a load to the engine and added load increases fuel use, decreasing your gas mileage.
- Check that your spark plugs are firing well: a spark plug with a fouled electrolyte will surely cause trouble for the engine and make it work harder and burn fuel less efficiently in the combustion chamber. Make sure your plugs are not misfiring. Modern cars and most cars from 1996 till date will display check engine light once a misfire is detected.
- Please try and avoid bad roads: This is more common in developing countries especially Nigeria. If you want to make a short trip and the normal or direct route with potholes, bends and cracks is 4miles, while the indirect but smooth and straight road is 4.5miles, why not take the seemingly longer road and save fuel and time?
- Do not allow your fuel tank to be empty before you refuel: This way, we might end up being penny wise pound foolish. If you empty your tank, there is high propensity that you can cause problems with your fuel injector /carburettor. Once the valuable component is faulty, your fuel efficiency suffers.
- Always close your fuel tank cap tightly and stop parking your car in the sun indefinitely: This will reduce fuel evaporation.
- Limit unnecessary idling(Using my vernacular, it is called slow work) Idling can burn through excessive litres of fuel per hour depending on the rpm speed and air conditioning use. Shutting down engines and using auxiliary power to run AC and heaters can save significant amounts of fuel. In fact, avoid using AC while idling unless for security reasons. Also, make sure you off your engine when you will need to wait in traffic for more than 40seconds
- Plan your trip-Project and Anticipate traffic flow and avoid frequent stops and startsEnsuring that drivers coast whenever possible in traffic increases km per litre! If you want to visit several places that all in a day, please make sure you map out destinations that are on the same route so that you won’t be going back and forth. Do this from home or make jottings of it. Be efficient around town: Leave on time and know where you are going. Bundle and route your errands to avoid gas-wasting backtracks.
- Select the right gear. Change up through the gears and into top gear as soon as possible without accelerating harder than necessary. Driving in a gear lower than you need wastes fuel; so does letting the engine labour in top gear on hills and corners. Automatic transmissions will shift up more quickly and smoothly if you ease back slightly on the accelerator once the car gathers momentum. If you’re in a car with a manual transmission or an automatic that has a manual-shift mode, pay attention to when you shift. Driving at high rpm or even medium-high rpm always consumes more fuel than driving at low rpm. Get up to speed quickly (even skipping a gear now and then) and maintain your speed. Shift to a higher gear at approximately 2,000 rpm, always prioritising safety by minding traffic situations and vehicle specifics first.
- Check tire pressure, Allignment and wheel balancing: At least once a month and before driving at high speeds or on long trips, check to make sure that your tires are inflated to the correct tire pressure. Typically, passenger car tires can lose about 1 pound-per-square-inch (PSI) per month, according to tire manufacturer Michelin. Tires that are not properly inflated create more rolling resistance and cost you money at the pump. A poorly aligned car also affect the performance of the tires which will, in turn, reduce fuel efficiency
- Avoid aggressive driving; Brake, accelerate and turn smoothly: Hard braking, hard acceleration, hard turning and down-shifting early are all wasteful driving behaviours.The combination of speeding, rapid acceleration and harsh braking, hard turning can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and by 5 percent around town. By slowing down and smoothing out your driving style, you can save some money per gallon of fuel. (A “calm” driving style improved fuel economy by an average of 35 percent in highway driving.) Use cruise control to maintain a steady speed on lightly travelled highways as well as freeways.
- Read the road and anticipate traffic flow: Keep your distance to about 3 seconds behind the vehicle ahead of you. This allows you to act instead of react, improves safety and enables steady driving.
- Limit your speed when necessary: There is just a slight difference between someone going at 120lph and someone runing at 85kph especially in nNigeria road. You will both arrive your destination within almost the same time all other things being equal. On the contrary, if you drive at highest speed, you burn more fuelObserve the speed limit: Assume that every 5 mph you drive over 60mph adds 31 cents to a gallon of fuel. If you keep that in mind and hold down your speed, you can save between 27-89 cents per gallon. Increasing your highway cruising speed from 55mph (90km/h) to 75mph (120km/h) can raise fuel consumption as much as 20%. You can improve your gas mileage 10 – 15% by driving at 55mph rather than 65mph (104km/h).
- Finally, make sure you always monitor your check engine light. This light gives you useful information about problems that might be happening to your vehicle. Do not ignore this light, get a diagnosis tool today to read the codes yourself or take it to the nearest workshop immediately you notice the light.