How Much Fuel Are You Wasting?

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Although there are a wide variety of solutions on how to get from point A to point B, most people choose to go by car. Owning a car tends to cost a lot of money, but if you look at it from a different perspective, this big piece of movable machinery can also save you a ton of cash in the long run.

Unless you can walk or bike everywhere you want to, you still have to spend money to get around. Whether you are jumping from one bus to another, or using a taxi, you can still find yourself spending the same amount of cash that you'd spend if you had a car. The only problem is that you don’t enjoy all the luxuries that go along with it.

Sure, cars tend to take a certain amount of money from your pocket almost every day, but some of these expenses can be reduced. First on the list is petrol. The vast majority of car owners in today’s world don’t really know what factors have a significant impact on their vehicle’s fuel usage.

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In order to save you money and improve your overall driving experience, here are some tips on how you can save on fuel:

1. Reduce your speed

The faster you go, the faster your vehicle will suck all the fuel out of your tank. Sudden changes of pace tend to stimulate the motor and encourage it to take more and more petrol. Recent testing has shown that quick acceleration and heavy braking can reduce fuel economy by up to 33 percent on the motorway and 5 percent around town.

Don't race to that red light and then peel out when it turns green. You know you’ll have to stop. Instead of punching the gas pedal in an unnecessary attempt to close that distance, let your car coast to that light. When it turns green again, ease into traffic one more time and don’t force your motor to work more than it has to.

If you want to save yourself from a trip or two to the petrol station, cut down on aggressive acceleration and aggressive braking.

2. Drive steadily

Drastically increasing your cruising speed can raise fuel consumption to as much as 20%. Driving up an incline of just 5% increases the amount of fuel you need by up to 30% in heavier cars.

This is just simple maths, really. For every kilometre per hour you're driving over the standard speed limit, you’re raising the price of the petrol you’re spending per kilometre. In order to avoid this, one must keep moving in a steady manner.

3. Avoid idling your vehicle

Doing this gets you nowhere. Not only does idling waste fuel, it also causes harm to your engine. Many mechanics will advise that it’s much better to turn your engine off instead. Warming up the engine is one of the most common culprits when it comes to idling your car. Modern engines don't need to be warmed up when the weather is cold. In fact, driving will warm up your car faster than idling in the driveway, so your car's heater will actually start working faster if you just hit the road.

4. Air Control

There's something of a debate about when it's more fuel-efficient to run the car's air conditioning rather than rely on open windows to cool you down. While running the AC drains power from the motor, driving with the windows down increases drag and costs you more kilometres per litre by making your car less aerodynamic.

So, what’s the best scenario?

Playing with electrical accessories in your car tends to have an effect on your petrol usage. According to the test performed, if you are diving below 89 kph, it is more efficient to have your windows down than use AC. On the other hand, if you are driving faster than that, rolled windows would only increase the drag, and AC proves to be more economical.

If you decide to use AC anyway in an average car, it will use 2 - 3 % of fuel when driving approximately 80 kph, while the number rises to 6 - 7% when going even faster.

Although these numbers tend to vary from car to car, in general you want to rely on your windows for inner-city driving and use your AC only when you’re on an open road, driving fast without constant interference.

5. Travel light

Removing unnecessary load from your car can most certainly have a noticeable effect on your petrol economy. Every one of us has tons of junk in the car that we don't use every day. Sure, it's ok to keep an extra set of tools and gloves in the truck, but do we really need to cruise around with such things as a baby seat if we're not currently driving kids? Do we need to constantly carry baseball bats, golf clubs and fishing gear if we're not immediately driving to a certain place where we’re going to partake in these activities? It seems not.

Making your car junk free can help you get more from your fuel tank. Think about this next time when you try to turn your car into a moving hangar.

6. Keep your tyres properly inflated

Under-inflated tyres can increase your fuel intake by as much as 6%. In order to prevent extra petrol usage, you should check your tyre pressure at least once a month.

It's not always that easy to register if your tyres are under inflated. Radial tyres can be under inflated and yet still look normal. It is best to ask your mechanic or local petrol station clerk for assistance where possible. If your tyres are inflated too much, you could have a serious problem on your hands.

While we’re still on the subject, there is just one more thing: badly aligned tyres increase drag and bring down fuel efficiency as well. Make sure you get your tyres checked for pressure every month or so.

7. Always be in the right gear

Driving in a gear lower than you should wastes petrol. It makes it harder for the engine to run the machinery, thus it requires more petrol to push on through. Listen to your engine and help it smoothly pick up and decrease speed.

8. Use the correct motor oil

You can improve your mileage by 1%–2% by using the manufacturer's recommended grade of motor oil. For example, using 10W-30 motor oil in an engine designed to use 5W-30 can lower your mileage by 1%–2% with the same amount of fuel.

Also, look for motor oil that says "Energy Conserving" on the API performance symbol to be sure it contains friction-reducing additives.

9. Detailed and smart trip planning

In order to save you from mindlessly cruising and spending litres and litres of petrol in vain, sit down, check the map and find the easiest and most efficient way of how to get where you’re going. Running around in circles and missing one turn after another can cost you some extra bucks. Before you hit the road, take some time to think, do your homework, and you’ll have some extra money to spend on things other than petrol.

10. Think about aerodynamics when purchasing a car

Wind resistance plays a key factor here. You can improve the aerodynamics of your car by keeping windows closed at high speeds and removing any roof racks when not in use. Weight can also increase fuel consumption, so remove heavy items from the boot when they’re not required.

Transport plays a big part in our everyday lives. Next to food and water, transport stands as one of the most important things a modern man has to think about and often, it is not a luxury but a mere necessity.