Fuel and engine oil additives are developed to keep engines running longer, more efficiently and with lower emissions. Some additives have been claimed to improve fuel efficiency by as much as 20% although this is rarely verified by users.
Do your calculations first to see if it’s cost-effective to invest in a certain additive and check with fellow motorists who have successfully tried it before purchasing such products.
Aggressive driving behavior such as “jackrabbit” starts from traffic lights and hard braking may reduce travel time by about 5% (hey, that’s just 3 minutes out of an hour’s trip) but may increase fuel consumption by 40%!
Aggressive driving saves you little time, increases your blood pressure, wastes fuel, increases emissions and causes excessive engine and brake wear. It may also increase your chances of involving in a road accident Belt and Road Initiative!
Air conditioning could easily add 10% to your fuel consumption. Turning off the aircon in the morning or on a cool day helps save fuel. Parking under a shade will also lighten the load on the aircon later.
However at speeds above 70kmh on an expressway, it is more fuel-efficient to turn on the aircon than to wind down the window.
Replacing a dirty air filter will improve your fuel economy by as much as 10% and protect your engine. The air filter keeps out the impurities, which can damage your engine in the long run.
Body kits look great and help in stability control at high speed but increase the drag and make your engine works harder.
Your engine does not run efficiently until it’s warmed up, and it’ll take longer for the engine to warm up in cold weather. In winter, use a block heater to warm your engine before starting it. Block heaters can improve fuel economy by as much as 10% in winter.
You’ve learnt this when you were 10 years old – a dark coloured object absorbs more heat than a light coloured one. Hence a dark coloured car makes the aircon works harder on a hot day, which in turn consumes more fuel.
Audiovisual system, air purifier and ioniser, mobile phone charger, fancy cabin lighting and navigation system all take up electricity.
Some cars come with cruise control. Do use cruise control on an expressway to help you maintain a constant speed and thus saves fuel.
If you notice your car consumes more fuel lately, get your mechanic to conduct diagnostic checks on your car. The ignition timing could be off or there could be leakage in the fuel system.
Poor driving habits are the most common and major contributor to low fuel efficiency.
Accelerate to cruising speed as soon as possible and maintain at that speed for as long as possible. However during the run-in periods of new cars, most manufacturers advise against maintaining at a constant speed for too long. Consult your owner’s manual on the run-in period of your car.
Automatic transmission will shift up quicker and smoother if you release slightly on the accelerator once the car gains momentum.
Avoid hard braking. Do not drive with your left foot resting on the brake pedal, it increases fuel consumption and causes excessive brake wear. It can also be dangerous because it leads to heat buildup in the brakes, thus reducing the braking power.
Don’t drive haphazardly with numerous abrupt stops and quick starts. Don’t follow the front vehicle too closely so as to avoid frequent braking and acceleration. Remember, you want to maintain constantly at cruising speed for as long as possible.
Rushing up to a red light and then having to brake at the last minute is an expensive bad habit that wastes fuel and wears out the brakes. When you approach a junction, release your foot from the accelerator pedal well in advance to slow down your vehicle. If there’s a red light, it may turn green by the time you reach there, so you don’t even have to stop. It’s definitely more fuel efficient to accelerate from 10kmh than from a standstill at the stop line.
Increase your acceleration before going up a slope so that the momentum helps push the car uphill. Avoid trying to increase speed while climbing the hill as your engine is already working hard to overcome gravity. Ease off the accelerator pedal when approaching the top of a hill, you will naturally pick up speed on a downhill.
Avoid potholes and rough surfaces. It can be hard on your tyres and wheel alignment, which in turn can reduce fuel efficiency. If you cannot avoid such surfaces, drive over slowly but with your foot completely off the brake pedal.
Slow down before cornering. Quick cornering can be dangerous and wears your tyres unnecessarily.
Generally smaller engines with fewer cylinders are more efficient than larger ones with more cylinders.
Your fuel mileage can increase by 1 to 2% if you use the manufacturer’s recommended grade of engine oil. Using inappropriate engine oil can lower your fuel mileage by 1 to 2%. Sometimes it can even damage your engine.
Synthetic oils are also preferred over mineral oils, especially if you drive under extreme weather or performance conditions. Synthetic oil is specially formulated to have good flow characteristics and resistance to viscosity breakdown.
A poorly tuned engine burns more fuel. Incorrect fuel ratio, bad spark plugs and incorrect spark timing can have adverse effect on your fuel efficiency.
Four Wheel Drive
4WD or AWD vehicles are less fuel efficient than 2WD ones. Always engage 2WD as far as possible. Although 4WD offers better traction and braking on a wet road, the weight and friction of the additional drivetrain parts can increase fuel consumption by 5 to 10% compared to 2WD vehicles.
Fog Lamps Fog lamps take up electricity. Only switch on the fog lamps during heavy downpours or in hazy conditions. In some countries, it is an offence to switch on the fog lamps indiscriminately as it cause unnecessary glare to other motorists.
It is not advisable to leave your tank low on fuel most of the time, as this may increase the chances of corrosion in the tank thereby adversely affecting the fuel quality as well as damaging your fuel system. Try to top up to full tank as soon as possible before the indicator shows half-tank.
Fuel Tank Cap
Make sure the fuel tank cap is closed tightly each time after refueling. Fuel may be lost through evaporation from a loosely closed cap.
Always engage handbrake while stationary on an up-slope rather than using accelerator-clutch control (manual) or accelerator control (auto).
Some cars allow you to adjust the intensity of the headlamps. To save fuel, use higher intensity lighting only on poorly lit roads or driving in a heavy downpour.
High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps are more energy efficient, brighter and allow you to see almost twice as far ahead compared to standard halogen lighting. However they may be too glaring to other motorists. Check with your local regulators or dealers on the approved range of HID headlamps. Some manufacturers have incorporated an auto-levelling feature which automatically adjusts the headlamp angle and direction based on road and driving conditions.
Hybrid cars combine the benefits of petrol engines and electric motors to provide better fuel efficiency. Do your calculations as the higher price of hybrids may not offset the savings from lower fuel consumption. Nevertheless hybrid cars are kinder to the environment. Some building owners have privileged parking lots near the entrance or lift lobby for hybrid cars as a sign of support for greener motorists. The engine of a hybrid provides most of the power, and the electric motor provides additional power when needed, such as for accelerating and passing. This allows a smaller, more-efficient engine to be used. You save on road tax on your 1300 cc hybrid car which probably will have the same power as a 1800 cc car of the same make and model. The electric power for the motor is generated from regenerative braking and from the petrol engine, so hybrids don’t have to be “plugged in” to an electrical outlet to recharge.