Text: AutoIndustriya Team / Photos: AutoIndustriya Team | posted May 30, 2013 14:20
Part Two: The Driver
Fuel economy is just as much about how a car, truck or SUV is driven as it is about proper maintenance or the choice of lubricants.
For Part 2 of our Practical Tips for Better Consumption with Shell FuelSave, we at AutoIndustriya.com have come up with our own driving tips, compiled over tens of thousands of kilometers on every road condition imaginable in the country, as well on the many times we've joined fuel economy competitions.
No tricks or one-size-fits-all solution to fuel economy here, just guidelines on how to work your car more efficiently to deliver more kilometers with every liter of Shell FuelSave.
So if you're ready, read on... you might be surprised at how simple this could be.
A lighter foot goes a longer way
It's simple. Your right foot controls the two major controls that have a direct effect on fuel economy: the accelerator and the brake pedals.
When it comes to the accelerator, treat it gently. When the lights turn green, don't mash the throttle and expect great fuel economy figures. Remember, the higher the needle goes up on the tachometer, the more times the injectors (or carburetor, if your car still uses them) will have to squirt fuel into the manifold or combustion chamber.
Be progressive about how you use the accelerator pedal, and modulate your right foot to generate enough acceleration so that the driver behind doesn't go mad on the horn, yet maintaining a decent amount of RPMs to keep a sustained, safe speed. This is where diesels have an advantage, given the high torque (to handle weight more easily) and low revs.
As a general guideline, we usually try to prevent the needle from going over 2000 RPM.
Again, as we said, good pedalwork is key. Much like the accelerator, the brakes are also a big factor in economy in the sense that the rougher you are with the brakes, the higher the consumption figures.
Use the brakes smartly, especially with regards to the role it plays in maintaining momentum. For instance, if you can see from a long way off that vehicles are stopped at a set of lights, don't try to get there right away and then make a full stop, because re-accelerating from a full stop costs the most fuel. If you can and if space permits, slow down just enough so that by the time you get there, the lights could already have changed, thereby allowing you to keep some momentum.
Like the accelerator, if you treat the brakes smoothly and smartly, you can bet your consumption will improve.
It's been all about footwork so far, but what about your hands? Yes, like your feet, steering work has to be precise and shifts have to be smooth.
No use powershifting or steering enough to rival most race car drivers (or jeepney drivers, at that) if you're going for economy. Drive normally with smooth and precise motions at the controls. Simple as that.
Really, the most important part about achieving better fuel economy is keeping cool. No, it doesn't mean you should turn up the A/C; the driver must keep a calm and cool mindset behind the wheel.
Rarely do we realize that our mood, emotions and stresses do have a profound effect on the way we drive, hence, our fuel consumption as well. A stressed out and angry mindset of a person trying to get to his or her meeting on time has a tendency to mash the throttle, weave in and out of traffic, and race from stoplight to stoplight.
During our many stints at joining fuel eco runs, the enemy is always impatience (though on the longer ones it's often cabin fever). It's this desire to get ahead and get there quickly, and that's what often ruins fuel economy. So, instead of getting antsy behind the wheel, put on some music you like (avoid hard rock, metal, or anything that gets you agitated), turn up the A/C a bit, lean back the driver's seat a bit for more comfort and relax because really, you'll get there. It's just a matter of how much FuelSave you've consumed.
The nut behind the wheel
It sounds easy right?
We could talk about the specifics like about what speed you should do on the highway for the best fuel economy (for the sake of posterity, it's generally about 60-80 km/h in the highest gear) or city driving techniques. We could also have said -just for the sake of selling a product- that you could try some new gadget, a new low-rolling resistance tire or a fancy new breakthrough in lubricants.
Each car is very different and not all of these tips will generate the same degree of effect on every car's fuel mileage. Some will do better while others won't improve that much; that's just the way it is.
We can, however, work on ourselves: the nuts behind the wheel. It won't cost us anything, except for a little patience, a little restraint and a little discipline.
Those three, combined with Shell FuelSave, can go a longer way.
Want to learn more?