Economical Driving

Economical Driving image

Text: Raymond D. Young / Photos: | posted July 21, 2002 13:24

Some practical tips on how to drive economically

Maybe some already knew how to drive "economically". And why shouldn't they? The ever-rising cost of fuel alone will force everyone to learn the basics of getting in and around the metropolis and consume less gas at the same time.

This may be an old adage like an old song played over and over but nonetheless, it's an adage one should never forget when driving. What's more, following some of the steps will make a miracle out of you, as it may refine or fine-tune your driving skills by making you aware of "fuel-wasting" driving manners. In the advent of advanced engine technology which promises better fuel economy, still it's better to follow some tips that are guaranteed to reduce your fuel costs.

Before focusing on the driving skills that help improve the fuel economy of the vehicle, keep in mind that proper vehicle maintenance is a vital factor.

Car Maintenance

1. Tune-up your car regularly. You can save up to 663 liters of gasoline a year if this observed.

2. Replace oil filters regularly and check oil filters every 9,600 km.

3. Make sure that the cooling system is functioning regularly. Too hot or too cold an engine wastes gas.

4. Keep tire proper pressure. Incorrect tire pressure reduces gasoline mileage, wears out tires faster and makes vehicles handling difficult.

5. Check wheel alignment. Tires with just a quarter-inch toe-in reduces fuel economy by 4.8 kilometers per 3.9 liters.

6. Check brake fluid lines and keep brakes properly adjusted. Dragging brakes consume more fuel.

7. Check fuel pump and lines for leaks. Leaks are fire hazards and fuel-consuming.

8. Don't fill your fuel tank to the brim. Allow for expansion to avoid wastage. To keep track of your kilometer per liter, set the odometer to zero when filling.

Starting the Car

1. Don't gun your engine to warm it up (i.e. press/depress on the accelerator). Warming up the engine by driving gives you better fuel economy.

2. Avoid jack-rabbit starts and sudden stops. Pretend there's an egg between your foot and your accelerator. Gradual acceleration saves gas and car wear and tear.

Cruising and Stopping

1. Drive at steady, moderate speed. You use twice as much as gas at 112-128 kph than at 80 kph.

2. Keep your foot as steady as possible on the gas pedal. Each time you push it down, you squirt more fuel which is wasted.

3. Drive smoothly and avoid necessary stops and observing developing traffic situations ahead. You can time your approach to the intersection with the green light.

4. Stay in your lane in heavy traffic. Spurting and zigzagging wastes fuel. (Most of us find this difficult to follow).

5. Provide sufficient momentum when driving uphill to avoid pressing the accelerator all the way down. This wastes gas and pushes your engine to the limit.

6. Do not idle your engine for more than three minutes. If you are caught in heavy traffic, shut off the engine. When the engine is idling, the car is using up gasoline without going anywhere. So its fuel economy is zero.

Other gas-saving tips:

1. Plan your trip. Avoid congested routes and cover as many errands as possible in a single trip.

2. Limit the use of air-conditioning which puts a great load on your car engines. It can take enough power to use almost six (6) liters of gasoline for every tank-full.

3. Think of other ways of getting there. Use car pools and/or public transportation. Give your car a break aside from the weekly color-coding scheme.

4. Eliminate unneeded cargo. Golf clubs for instance are unnecessary and fuel-consuming if you only need them once a week. For every 100 pounds added weight, there's an estimated decrease in mileage from about 1-5 percent depending on the size and type of the car.

5. Use the smaller car if you have more than one. The bigger and the more luxurious the car, the more gas it consumes.

6. Don't buy a model that is larger than what you need. Don't buy a V8- powered car if you intend to use it in city driving.

7. Avoid unnecessary trips. For short trips, walk or commute -- don't drive.

8. If possible, park the car in a shade. You not only eliminate gasoline evaporation but also lessen the work of your air-con once you start your engine.

9. If possible, keep all windows closed, specially at highway speeds. This would eliminate the wind drag which causes extra fuel consumption.

10. Get easy on the clutch. Depress the pedal firmly, as far as it will go. Release it up gradually to take up the drive. Don't rest your foot on the clutch pedal (i.e. clutch driver), Keep your foot off the brake pedal, too. Too much braking means more fuel money.

So there. Before ending up this article, please keep in mind that by following the above-mentioned steps, not only we are saving our pockets from unnecessary fuel costs, but also, we're doing the environment a good favor by lessening the exhaust emissions through economical driving and proper car maintenance, and conserve the fast-depleting oil reserves this planet has to offer.

Happy economical driving!