Car Advice

Fuel Consumption – Top Tips for fuel efficient driving

Driving for fuel economy is an art and a science. Our handy fuel efficient driving tips will help you get more out of your tank of fuel and save you money.

THE OLD SAYING that you should drive as if you have an egg under the accelerator pedal is still good advice. In other words, drive with a light right foot. Sudden acceleration causes more fuel to be used; it’s as simple as that. Avoid heavy braking too.

Make sure your car is always serviced regularly as skimping on this can lead to higher fuel consumption, as sluggish engines have to work harder.

The big trick is to drive smoothly, which means looking well ahead and anticipating what’s going to happen. If you see brake lights come on five cars ahead then it’s odds on you will need to brake too, so start right then rather than leaving it until you have to step hard on the brake pedal and have your passengers head-bang the dashboard.

Accelerating hard away from traffic lights is a no-no when trying to drive economically; I’ve read some suggestions of easing on the throttle and taking five seconds to reach 20km/h…that might be the trick if you’re trying to hyper-mile but I think driving this carefully would cause more trouble than it’s worth from other road users.

And try to maintain a consistent speed; cruise control can help here. Meaning, don’t wander from, say, 70-80km/h in an 80km/h zone. Pick a speed and stick to it; tests by Natural Resources Canada concluded that varying your speed up and down every 18 seconds by 10km/h an hour can result in a 20% increase in fuel consumption.

An open window and air conditioning both cause fuel to be consumed too, the air-con because there’s a compressor to drive the cooling system which places on the engine and battery, while an open window sucks air inside the car and can act as a brake (sort of, kind of), ultimately burning more fuel. As a rough guide – one half-open window equals having the air conditioning on in terms of using extra fuel. Of course, this is all dependent on the speed…at around town speeds, the difference between having the window open or running the air-con is about equal; increase the speed, though, and the open window will see more fuel consumed than relying on the air-con alone to cool the car.

Weight also plays a part – the heavier the vehicle the more fuel is used – so don’t carry unnecessary items.

Roofracks by themselves lead to higher fuel consumption because they disrupt the vehicle’s smooth lines and cause more friction. Load the roofrack and of course it’s even worse. If possible take the rack off if you’re not using it. Look for roofracks which can easily be removed.

Saving fuel and driving economically is not magic – try and drive smoothly and anticipate road and traffic conditions up ahead by looking at what is going on beyond merely the car in front of you. Avoid heavy braking and acceleration and keep the weight down.

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8 years ago

What woudl make the most difference is if the browsers were made to broadcast tomorrows fuel prices today – reduce the impact of the price gouging cycle….You could save up to 25% by getting the day right!

Ben Tate
Ben Tate
5 years ago

Don’t worry about separate motor driving the cooling system. There’s a dirty big AC compressor driven by a serpentine belt that’s powered by a pulley on the front of the crankshaft. Who’s going to cook with windows up and AC off for the sake of slightly lower fuel consumption?

I’ve found that fuel economy drops off before the manufacturer’s specified air filter replacement interval arrives. Those overlooking services are well behind the eightball.

Yes drive smoothly. And there’s more to that than accelerating smoothly. It also includes tsking your eyes off the infotainment screen and watching the road. Alert drivers don’t accelerate into red lights. Alert drivers also change lanes when possible (without cutting off others) rather than brake to remain behind a truck in the slow lane.

Cruise control might save fuel on flattish roads but it costs fuel on roads with hills. And that’s because cruise control fights to hold the set speed at all times. It will open the throttle as much as is needed to maintain 110kmh on the steepest hill on the Hume for example. A driver on the other hand realises how much he is pushing the accelerator and sacrifices a bit of speed up the hill.

And don’t worry about fuel costs if you drive a big petrol powered SUV. I’d say they weigh a ton … but they weigh two or more. They have the CD of a brick. Crank your AC up to max and wind your windows down! 😉

Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober