Save on petrol costs with these simple driving techniques
With rising costs of living, it is getting harder to save money nowadays. While petrol is relatively cheap in our region compared to the rest of the world, your daily drive to the office also happens to be one of the best ways you can save a bit of cash. Here are some tips on how to save petrol with some simple driving techniques.
It’s all about the gearshifts
When accelerating, shift up to the next gear by 2500 rpm, whether driving a manual or an automatic. You can control the shifts in an automatic by simply experimenting with your throttle-pedal inputs. Ideally by 50 kph, you should already be in fourth gear.
Think about how you accelerate
Up to 50 kph, it is preferable to accelerate briskly up to fifth gear. By briskly, we don’t mean floor the throttle pedal, but rather go just quick enough to have your automatic gearbox shift up at 2500 rpm. At speeds above 50 kph, acceleration and changes in speed should be made more smoothly.
At anything above 50 kph, try to maintain a steady speed, whether you have cruise control or not. You can also leave 10 minutes earlier for your destination and just drive at 100 kph instead of 140 kph.
To speed up, accelerate steadily and smoothly instead of just pressing the throttle pedal like an on-off switch. If you need to slow down, just take your foot off the accelerator pedal and use your foot brake as little as possible. That means if you see a need to slow down up front, plan ahead. For example, lift off the accelerator long before a red light, instead of braking hard a few metres before the light.
Climbs and descents
When going down a hill, let the car roll with gravity as much as the speed limit will allow, maintaining a constant speed by backing off the throttle pedal. On an uphill slope, let the car lose a bit of speed, but without becoming an obstruction for other cars.
Take care of your tyres
Check your tyre pressures every month. Under-inflated tyres will cause an increase in fuel consumption. Tyres which are under-inflated by 15 psi use around 6% more fuel due to more friction, not to mention worsen tyre wear and compromise your car’s handling. A safe tyre needs to stick to the road for handling curves and stopping fast, but if it sticks too much — or “drags” — while you’re driving along, you’ll be wasting fuel unnecessarily. Making sure your wheels are properly aligned also helps.
There are also tyres available, such as the Michelin Energy series, that are designed to save petrol by reducing rolling resistance while maintaining grip levels for safe driving. The latest-generation tyres have been incredibly successful in reducing the drag factor without compromising on safety, with innovations such as including silica in the tyre formula.
Use your engine smartly
Contrary to what some might say, you do not need to warm up your engine by idling for several minutes on start-up, at least for fuel-injected modern cars. Even in our mild winter seasons, you can just start and drive away, but just take it easy, keeping revs low and acceleration slow until the engine does warm up. You can drive normally after a few minutes.
If you want to turn up your efforts a notch and the weather is good, you can turn off your engine if you stop for more than one minute, such as a really long red signal or waiting for a friend. You can also turn up the temperature of your a/c by a few degrees instead of making the cabin freezing cold.
Be sure to maintain your car properly, replacing your engine’s dirty air filter and old spark plugs as needed, as well as topping up all oils and fluids, even between scheduled services if your car is particularly old or quirky.
Also, do not leave any unnecessary cargo in your vehicle, and remove roof racks when not in use, so your engine has slightly less load to lug around.
These are not new ideas for seasoned drivers, but they should help you out if your regular driving style is to pound on throttle and brake pedals like a circus chimp. One final bit of advice would be to plan out your route so you spend as less time in traffic as possible. Another no-brainer way to save on petrol costs is to just buy a more fuel-efficient car when it comes time to replace your current one. Newer cars have made great strides in fuel economy over the past few years. But even when buying a new car is not an option, if rising costs have become a concern, these tips can help you cut down on fuel consumption by as much as 30%.