Photo Credit: Rescue Dog
Nothing bugs me more than people who complain about the rising cost of fuel (or gas, or petrol, black gold, Texas tea… whatever you call it in your neck of the woods). It’s not really rocket science and you can start saving money spent on fuel right now!
I’m not selling you some snake oil gizmos like fuel saving magnets. I’m simply going to tell you 12 scientifically proven ways to avoid spending tons of money on a liquid that you’ll burn anyway.
The following people shouldn’t bother to continue reading this article:
- People living in Venezuela or Saudi Arabia where fuel is dirt cheap (but everything else is as expensive as sin)
- George W. Bush (I’m sure you’re happy with how fuel prices are at the moment)
- OPEC committee members (for the same reason as Dubya)
- Malaysians who are absolutely certain that Anwar Ibrahim will be our next PM
Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s get on to business.
Avoid driving in the first place
Straight forward, right? You won’t believe how many people are driving to a shop fifty metres away just to buy the newspaper!
Here’s news for those of you on that same wavelength, before there were cars people traveled on foot for thousands of miles! Walking over a much shorter distance won’t kill you. Yeah, I’m very sure. I do it on a daily basis.
Drive below the speed limit
I don’t believe that speed limits are an effective way to prevent accidents. This is especially true for Malaysian traffic. I’ve seen accidents happen for factors other than exceeding the speed limit. The most common causes are impatience and utter stupidity.
Nevertheless, the one thing that make speed limits useful is that by sticking to that ridiculously slow speed, you’ll definitely save on fuel.
Change to neutral gear when stopping at traffic lights
This is especially true for auto transmission cars. By engaging in the D gear while stopping, you’re putting unnecessary stress to your transmission system… and stress consumes more fuel.
If the light goes red when you reach a traffic light junction, engage the neutral gear straightaway. In addition to saving fuel, you’ll also have a longer lasting transmission system.
Reduce air conditioning usage
By switching on the air-con, your engine needs to produce more power to run the system. And when it needs more power, it burns more fuel.
I live in Malaysia where the temperatures are ungodly high and humid. If I can live through a 20 minutes drive to my soon to be former office, you should have no problems doing the same.
Regularly service your car
If you think regular car servicing is an unnecessary expense, I’d like to see the look on your face when your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere due to the lack of preventive maintenance.
Regular car services by qualified mechanics not only extends the life of your vehicle, but it will keep your car running optimally. Dirty oil filters, clogged carburation or fuel injection systems, and filthy engine oil can cause misfiring and ultimately wasted fuel.
Now think about that when you decide to be a miser when it comes to servicing.
Maintain proper tyre pressure
Your car has only one engine but five tyres (including the spare, you do have a spare tyre, don’t you?). More importantly, the tyres are the only thing separating your shiny car from the tarmac. Failure to maintain your tyres properly can result in painful, even fatal, accidents.
The often overlooked aspect of tyre safety is actually the simplest to perform. At the risk of sounding sexist, this is especially true for the fairer sex. Perhaps I underestimate the displeasure of filling the car tyres with air while wearing a skirt.
The thing is, maintaining optimally inflated tyres contributes significantly to fuel savings. This step alone can save up to 3% of your fuel consumption.
So the next time you go to your car, examine the tyres more closely. Most tyres have the recommended air pressure information embossed on it. If you can’t even see that information and your tyres look like those on Formula 1 cars, then it’s time to get new ones.
Don’t carry unnecessary cargo
I know some people literally live in their cars. But I’m sure you know of people who take this concept way overboard!
Time for simple physics right now; The greater the mass of an object, the more energy it requires to move it from Point A to Point B. What this means is that if you travel light, you’ll get further than when you’re laden with cargo with the same amount of fuel.
So if you carry twelve pairs of shoes in the trunk and keep a stack of books in the car, perhaps its time to do some spring cleaning. Remove all unnecessary items and keep just the bare essentials. You’ll not only save fuel but your car will be much cleaner and neater too!
Don’t leave the engine running idle for more than two minutes
Now this is a practise that is common among those aged 50 and above. Believe it or not, all modern cars don’t need warming up. Just start the engine and go already!
Your car will get all the warming up it needs heading to your destination.
Bonus nugget of information: Do you know that running your car on idle for two minutes consumes more fuel than starting up the engine?
Use the correct gear
If you’re driving a manual transmission car, try to shift to high gear as soon and as smoothly as possible.
Driving in low gear stresses the engine a lot more than cruising on high gear. It also strains the transmission system which will lead to premature wear and tear.
Plan your route in advance
Failing to plan means you’re planning to fail. If you’re heading to an unfamiliar destination, make some calls to people more familiar with the route. Ask them about the best time to head there as to avoid traffic jams.
If you already have a GPS navigation system installed in your vehicle, program it to choose the shortest distance and one with the least amount of unavoidable stops like junctions and traffic lights. If you don’t have GPS, then good old fashioned paper maps would be a good tool to have on your trip.
Don’t fill up petrol to the point of overflowing
Filling up petrol to the brim is not a good way to conserve refueling time. You will in fact waste more fuel as the result of excess petrol being discarded via overflow drains.
Just trust the fuel pump auto-stop mechanism and simply top it up to the nearest dollar. Chances are that you’re not traveling to the middle of Timbuktu. There will definitely be more petrol stations on the way to your destination.
Avoid unnecessary and sudden acceleration
In addition to increased engine wear, sudden acceleration burns more fuel. It also causes the combustion system to be less efficient when mixing fuel with air.
Does shaving that few seconds worth the fuel cost? You’re not in a race anyway, so why put yourself and others in danger?
Got your own fuel saving tips to share? Drop a comment below and see what others think about this post.