John and Helen Taylor promote a range of fuel economy driving techniques but by far the most important factor in the reduction of fuel consumption is the driver. The rule is simple: slow down and take it easy.
The Taylors offer the following tips and guidance on how motorists can obtain the best possible fuel efficiency from their vehicle:
Drive Smoothly. Aggressive driving can use as much as a third more fuel compared to conservative driving. Avoid accelerating or braking too hard, and try to keep the steering action as smooth as possible.
Use Higher Gears. The higher the gear, the lower the engine speed. This can improve fuel efficiency, so use the highest gear appropriate, without causing the engine to labour at an ultra-low rpm. Automatic transmission vehicles will upshift through the gears more quickly and smoothly if the driver eases back slightly on the accelerator when the car has gathered sufficient momentum.
Tune and Service the Engine. A well tuned engine can improve fuel economy by up to four per cent. Change the oil and always follow the car manufacturer’s recommendation on servicing.
Keep the Tyres at the Correct Pressure. Correctly inflated tyres are safer and last longer, and they also reduce the amount of energy required to keep the vehicle rolling. A tyre that is under inflated by just 69 millibar (one psi) can reduce fuel efficiency by as much as three per cent.
Avoid Carrying Excess Weight. For every extra 45 kilograms carried in a vehicle, the fuel efficiency can drop by two per cent, so keep the trunk and rear seat clear of any unnecessary items that just add weight to the vehicle.
Take the Roof Rack Off. If the roof rack or roof bars are not being used, then remove them. They adversely affect the aerodynamic efficiency of the vehicle and create drag, reducing fuel economy by as much as five per cent.
Use the Correct Engine Oil. Always use the recommended grade of motor oil. Using the manufacturer’s recommended lubricant can improve fuel efficiency by one or two per cent. Higher quality motor oils can also help your engine operate more efficiently.
Avoid Excess Idling. Idling gets a vehicle nowhere but still burns fuel. Turn the engine off when you’re in a queue, or waiting for someone, until you need to drive.
Avoid High Speeds. The faster you travel, the more wind resistance you’ll encounter and the more fuel your vehicle will consume just to maintain speed. Driving just five mph over the speed limit can affect fuel economy by up to 23 per cent.
Maintain the Distance. Leaving a sensible distance between your car and the vehicle in front gives the driver ample time to anticipate obstacles and to brake evenly.
Use Air Conditioning Sparingly. Air Conditioning puts added strain on the engine and uses additional fuel when operating, so limit its use to particularly hot days. On temperate days, use the fan instead of air conditioning.
Check the Air Filter. The air filter keeps impurities from damaging your engine. Replacing a clogged air filter can improve fuel economy by as much as 10 per cent while helping to protect your engine.
Avoid Rush Hour or Traffic Jam Hotspots. If you can travel outside of peak times and avoid known areas of heavy traffic, you’ll spend less time stuck in queues and slow-moving traffic, thus consuming less fuel.
Conserve Momentum. Think ahead when driving. For example, slow down early to let red traffic lights change to green, rather than stopping completely. Also, speed up a little before reaching the start of a hill and then allow the vehicle’s momentum to carry the vehicle up the hill without working the engine harder.
Keep Calm. When drivers are not calm, they are more likely to make judgement errors. Fuel efficiency is all about smoothness. Judgement and keeping calm is absolutely crucial to achieving fuel economy.
Use Handbrakes on Slopes. Some motorists do not use the handbrake when stopping their vehicle on a slope. Instead, they either partially disengage the clutch (on manual transmission vehicles), or use the accelerator (on automatic vehicles), to keep the vehicles from rolling back. Both actions use fuel unnecessarily.Published 7 March 2008