Three things are certain in life: death, taxes and the rising cost of fuel.
The modern motorist faces a lot of challenges when it comes to saving fuel. After all, the poor state of public transport forces many to drive their own cars. That also means there is a greater need to make the most out of our fill-ups. Not an easy task, given the ever worsening congestion in the metro, and even in the provinces.
So what can we do to lessen the dent on our wallets? Here are seven simple ways to stretch your mileage.
It all starts with maintenance
Like the human heart, engines need to be kept healthy to lead a long life. Not only that, a well-maintained engine will run more efficiently since it is less strained. With over a hundred moving parts, there is a lot of heat and friction going on in an engine. The oil keeps the engine from detonating but after thousands of kilometers, it will turn to sludge. So why is it important to get an oil change?
Imagine walking over thick mud. You exert more effort to move forward meaning you use up more energy. Sludge has a similar effect on your engine. The thicker the sludge, the more energy consumed in a less efficient manner. A simple service will smoothen things out again. The same goes for your air filter. If your car can breathe easier, the more efficiently it runs.
Simply put, the more you push the gas pedal, the more fuel gets dumped into the engine. A light foot is one of the keys to extending your range. A gentle press on the accelerator means there's less fuel being fed to the engine. Try to apply this in stop and go traffic, as there is no use jabbing the accelerator if you'll come to a full stop in about five meters.
If your car is equipped with a manual transmission, do not rev the engine too high when setting off. Try to find your clutch's biting point and slowly feed in power when setting off. Should you find yourself on an incline, avoid hanging as not only do you end up consuming more fuel, you'll also wear out the clutch prematurely.
This also applies when stepping on the brakes. Slamming on the brakes means you lose momentum and regaining which means you have to step on the gas to get to speed again. Also, tailgating forces you to hit the brakes and the accelerator, meaning you aren't running as efficiently as someone with a steady foot. Not only is tailgating dangerous, it's a waste of fuel.
Keep the revs low and steady
An easy way to know if your engine is being pushed hard is by the sound of it. If it's becoming a little too loud, perhaps its best to let off the gas pedal. Also, look at the tachometer and try to keep the revs below 2,500 rpm (for diesel engines) to 3,000 rpm (for gas engines). Do take note that this depends on your transmission's gearing.
This is related to pedal control as you have to keep your foot light and steady when stepping on the accelerator. If you have a manual, it's recommended that you shift up between 2,000 to 2,500 rpm in a gas-powered car or 1,500 to 2,000 rpm in a diesel. At highways speeds, maintain the revs as low as you possibly can without impeding the flow of traffic. If your car is equipped with cruise control, try using it when the highway is clear and wide open. That way, it maintains both your revs and speeds consistently without straining your right foot.
Another vital key to saving fuel is staying in constant motion. Granted, it's a very difficult thing to do in heavy. Instead, what you can do is use the road to your advantage. If you see a downhill grade, let the momentum carry you forward.
To control your pace downhill, downshift until you find a speed you are comfortable with. In an automatic transmission car, downshift in manual mode or set it in Low. As for the opposite, gain as much speed as you can so you don't have to lean on the accelerator for a long time on uphill roads or on-ramps. Freewheeling, or putting the car in neutral while rolling, is a no-no. While there is some benefit to it when trying to save fuel, it's only minimal and it's not worth the risk of losing control of the car. Also, don't ride the brakes going downhill, let the engine and transmission maintain your speed.
The right shoes make a difference
It may not sound like an obvious fuel-saving measure but having the right tires can also save you a couple more kilometers per liter. How, you ask?
See, tires have what's called rolling resistance. Rolling resistance is essentially how much force the car has to exert in order for the tire to actually get moving. If you want to save fuel, decreasing rolling resistance is one way to achieve it. Remember, the less force the car has to put out, the less it will consume. More rolling resistance means more effort and you'll burn up more fuel just to get going.
Major tire manufacturers, such as Bridgestone, has something to offer. For instance, they have the Ecopia line which reduces rolling resistance by up to six percent. It may not sound like much but if you compound it over the course of the year, that's a lot of liters saved up. At the same time, it still offers the grip that you need for safe travels, be it in the wet or dry. These eco tires like the Ecopia can help you make the most out of preserving your momentum and, at the same time, keep your revs low due to the low rolling resistance design. That means you don't have to fiddle around the pedals too much to maintain speed, nor rely on cruise control (if your car has it) to keep a steady pace.
Be it a car or an SUV, there are low rolling resistance tires available, and Bridgestone Ecopia has it in most sizes.
Heighten your anticipation
Scanning the road ahead allows you to maneuver the car safely away from hazards, as well as keeping your car in motion. With your car in motion, that means it continues to move forward using as little fuel as possible whereas coming to a full stop means you have to use up more energy to move again. Also, use road signs and countdown traffic lights to your advantage to known when to step on the brakes or keep on the gas. Of course, not all hazards can be anticipated so you must do all you can to avoid an accident.
Lighten your load
On a road trip or an outing, it's inevitable that your vehicle will be packed to the brim. On normal days however, the extra load means your engine has to work harder to lug around the extra weight. More weight means you have to step on the accelerator longer to reach a certain speed, meaning more fuel goes into the engine. As much as possible, you don't want to burden your engine and exert more effort in moving.
On the daily drive, just pack the essentials like golf bags, strollers and the like. Of course, this doesn't mean you should remove everything in the trunk. Keep your toolkit and while you're at it, add in twelve surprisingly handy essentials that could help you on the road.
When going out for errands, plan a route that doesn't bring you to high traffic areas. Doing this will avoid having to drive back an forth and spend time in congestion. You can also use navigation applications such as Waze to pass through the fastest routes possible. Should you plan to do many stop overs on a long trip, plot key spots to visit in a strategic manner, ideally one that stays close to your final stop.
Eco-driving is safe driving
With these tips, one can be a smoother and safer driver on the road. Also, with heightened anticipation, these tips will also help you develop your defensive driving skills. Not only are you saving fuel, but you'll also help yourself be a better driver too. Don't compromise on safety though. Always keep your car in tip-top shape, and not adapt a pwede na 'yan attitude in terms of parts. With cars, pwede na is not an option.