Right about now, every Filipino and Filipina motorist is up in arms with fuel prices. Heck, even those with motorbikes are already feeling the pinch of the close to PHP 75 per liter tag at the pumps. A lot of people rely on motor vehicles to get around, and getting your full tank’s worth is always a priority; more so now. So here are a few things to remember and consider with the continuing price hikes in petroleum products.
There is no replacement for displacement
This is a pretty basic premise. The smaller your engine’s displacement is the less fuel it’s liable to chug down. Take for example our 2-wheeled friends. Their bikes will always consume less fuel even after spending the same time in a jam. But for the four-wheeled types, we don’t really have much of a choice. Those who have sub-compact vehicles, you’re already in a pretty okay place as far as fuel mileage goes. For now, and for the foreseeable future, not to think about selling your minuscule car may be the best thing you could do. If it can take you from point A to point B with less fuel, that’s best.
But what of those who don’t really have a choice and are stuck with bigger-displacement engines under their hoods? The following four items may offer a little bit of help.
Make sure your vehicle’s engine is properly maintained
We can never stress this enough: make sure your car is not just well-, but properly maintained. No machine is 100 % efficient, but having a well-oiled machine (figuratively and literally) gives a greater chance of efficiency. Do you regularly follow your oil change schedules? Are you using the right oil type and viscosity? Are your spark plugs firing the way they should?
There are a lot of things to consider in the nitty-gritty of engine work, but to keep it simple, you simply have to make sure that you take care of your car’s engine religiously to make sure that you get the best burn that you can from every top-up and in all of your travels.
Keep a light foot on your accelerator
At a time like this, there really is no reason to feed your “racing, racing” itch. Okay, maybe not literal racing, but keeping a light foot on your gas pedal is a surefire way of saving gas. For both automatic and manual transmission cars, there’s absolutely no need to mash on the pedal. Be mindful of how you engage your gears, how you get your foot off the brakes, and see how you can ease your vehicle into moving forward without stepping like there’s no tomorrow. Try it: pop it into gear, lift off the brake, and your car will start rolling. This goes without saying that you need to be alert on your brakes too.
Resist the urge to blast through whatever open stretch you can find. This will pay great dividends in your efforts to save fuel.
Keep your tires inflated to the right pressure
Many motorists neglect this particular motoring basic. Your vehicle’s tires have guides on tire inflation for a reason. Optimal tire pressure plays a great role in preserving your fuel consumption, and it all boils down to physics.
With underinflated tires, your contact patch with the ground becomes wider. This in turn increases friction when your wheels start turning. More friction, more resistance, therefore there comes a need for more power to be delivered to start (and keep) moving. Case in point: the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the US found that underinflation of just 1 % resulted in a 0.3 % reduction in fuel economy. The more your tire is underinflated, the more fuel economy you lose.
While over-inflation does not currently seem to have many studies on its relation to fuel economy, there’s the issue of safety. But that is for another article. Basically, use your tire inflation information because it is there for a good reason.
If you must go out, plan your trips and routes
Most of us have no choice but to go out. In any such case, and if you can, try to plan your travel time and routes as best you can. Temperature and time in traffic will have great effects on your fuel consumption so this is something we should really do.
On the same token, the NHTSA also found that with a 5-degree Celsius drop in temperature, your tires lose about 2 % of their pressure. At the same temperature increase, it inflates by about 2 %. It’s these constant fluctuations that we can’t really avoid too much of given our tropical climate, but keep in mind that every PSI counts in our efforts to improve fuel economy.
Also, we know of our daily plight which is traffic jams. If we ply through the same roads every day, then we have a broad knowledge of what times are “best” to travel in relation to road congestion. If you can, use these less-traffic windows so you can avoid the stop-and-go altogether. If you can’t, then refer back to our previous tips above.
As we speak, we don’t see any respite from the skyrocketing of fuel prices. With some outfits reporting a forecast of “PHP 100 per liter”, motor vehicle owners are in a very tough place, no doubt. Again, there are many other alternatives to avoid spending on fuel altogether, but for those who cannot or may not consider those options, try to keep these five things in mind. Remember, every drop – and more importantly – every Peso counts.