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Top 17 Fuel Economy Tips – Save Money & Environment

The high cost of fuel and the deteriorating environmental impact it creates is forcing many drivers to look for ways to increase their fuel economy whilst lowering their emissions.

Fortunately, the 17 fuel economy tips highlighted here show you how to save money on fuel and maintenance costs, whilst protecting the environment by lowering your carbon footprint emissions.

Take Advantage Of Loyalty Cards

Most grocery stores and gas stations want your business and offer loyalty cards to encourage you to return to them whenever you need to fill up.

The loyalty card rewards you with points every time you pay and accumulated points can be exchanged for discounts at a later date.

The schemes are at zero cost to the consumer and can be a great, risk-free way to reduce your fuel costs.

Many online apps will save you money at the pump or find you the cheapest fuel in your area such as GasBuddy and Gas Guru.

Dad’s Tip: It’s a good idea to join several schemes so that you can take advantage of the most current special offers and price discounts offered by a wide range of suppliers.

Remove the Weight

Every extra pound in weight added to your vehicle means you will need to use extra fuel to carry it, (especially going uphill).

So to increase your fuel economy always remove any unnecessary items from your trunk.
Following this take off the roof, trunk, or cycle rack and any weights added for poor weather driving if you don’t require them.

Keep The Car Aerodynamic.

An open window destroys the smooth flow of air traveling over and around any vehicle and only results in the steady creation of extra wind resistance.

Simply put, with an increase in speed you receive an increase in the air resistance which forces the engine to work harder leading to increased fuel consumption.

The same factors are true when you add accessories to the vehicle’s outer shell such as roof racks or cycle racks.

A poorly designed roof-mounted cargo box will increase the aerodynamic drag effect and can reduce fuel economy by up to 25% at 65mph to 75mph.

Rear-mounted boxes are more aerodynamically efficient, depending upon type and conditions, but can still reduce your fuel economy by about 5%+.

Park In Direction Of Travel

A cold engine burns more fuel and so does driving in the wrong direction while you look for a turning point to put you onto the correct route.

So reverse into your parking spot while the engine is warm or park across the street so that you don’t have any maneuvering to do that simply burns the fuel you can’t afford to waste.

Keep The Rev’s Low

A cold engine consumes more fuel when compared to a warm one partially because it is running at an increased rev rate.
Therefore, you should keep your speeds low until the engine has had the time to warm up.

Once the engine is warm you should select the higher gears early as this keeps the revs low and decreases the fuel consumption rate.

To aid in the selection of gears some vehicles are fitted with a shift indicator visible on the dashboard. The shift indicator measures the rev rate and can help you to decide when it is most advantageous to change gear.

Remember, to achieve the highest fuel economy you should drive in the highest gear you can at the slowest comfortable speed for that gear.

Dad’s Tip: Modern engines do not require you to rev the engine when you are stationary so please do not do this as it is only a senseless waste of fuel.

Don’t Drive Aggressively

Aggressive driving may wreck more than just your fuel economy.
Aggressive driving may wreck more than just your fuel economy.

Don’t allow other road users to control your emotions or push you to drive outside of your comfort zone.

Aggressive driving includes fast acceleration and deceleration, speeding, hard braking, fast gear changing, unnecessary lane changing, unnecessary overtaking, and excessively revving the engine.

All of the above driving habits result in a pointless waste of fuel and wreck any fuel economy measures that you have already undertaken.

Dad’s Tip: If you drive at a safe moderate speed you will save fuel, reduce your emissions, reduce your stress levels and lower the possibility of driver-related accidents.

Use Cruise Control

When cruise control is activated on a vehicle the engine management system takes control and runs the engine at a constant speed allowing the engine to work smoothly and efficiently.

Most modern vehicles are fitted with cruise control and you can increase your fuel economy on flat, smooth, straight roads by enabling this feature.

However enabling cruise control on hilly, rough, and bendy roads will decrease your fuel economy as the system will be constantly reacting to the rapidly changing conditions.

Limit Your Air Conditioner Use

According to the US EPA, constant use of your air conditioning in very hot weather can increase your fuel consumption rate by a whopping 25%.

Note that there are many factors involved here that can influence the percentage difference with 25% being at the higher end of the scale.

However, even under normal conditions, running your AC will draw power from the vehicle’s battery pack and engine.

And this means that the additional workload placed on these parts will increase your vehicle’s fuel usage while negatively affecting its fuel economy.

To keep you and your passengers comfortable drive with the windows open at lower speeds and turn on the AC and close the windows at higher speeds.
Driving at highway speeds with open windows can decrease fuel economy by 10%+.

Dad’s Tip: You should run your air conditioning for at least 10 minutes a week to lubricate the seals around the system and stop them from drying out. Dry seals equal leaks which lead to expensive repairs and regassing.

Combine Trips

Wherever possible try to combine all of your cold engines, fuel-inefficient short journeys into one or two warm engines, fuel-efficient longer journeys.

Longer journeys allow the engine to warm up, lubricate properly and become fuel-efficient. They also allow the catalytic converter to burn away the hydrocarbons caught within its honeycombed pores and prevent clogging.

Longer journeys also allow the battery to charge and other moving parts to warm which reduces friction and drag upon the vehicle further reducing any additional stresses placed on the engine.

In short, constant short journeys are bad for vehicle maintenance, bad for fuel economy, and bad for the environment due to the emissions caused.

Check the tire Pressure

Tire pressure is an important and much-overlooked factor in achieving a good fuel economy.

Simply put, an underinflated tire has a larger surface area of rubber in contact with the road
And if you increase the amount of rubber on the road, you have to also increase the rate of fuel consumption required to move it and keep it moving.

A 25% under-inflated tire may cause a 5% increase in fuel consumption combined with a 25% reduction in tire life!

Overinflation of a tire also reduces fuel economy and both underinflation and overinflation affect the stability of a vehicle reducing its ability to corner and stop safely.

However, tire pressures need to be increased for towing or for carrying heavy loads to counter the drag effect and maintain the fuel-saving advantages.

Dad’s Tip: Check the tire pressures at least once a month. The correct tire pressure can be found in the manufacturer’s handbook or printed on the sill of the driver’s door.

Cut The Speed

The faster you drive the more fuel your vehicle consumes.
Slowing down from 80mph to 60mph can increase your fuel economy by about 7 to 8 miles per gallon.

Smooth gear shifting and driving at a constant speed of about 50 to 55 MPG with little to no braking can also optimize your fuel usage.

However, each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at different speeds and conditions so please check your vehicle’s handbook for further guidance.

speed-v-mpg-graphic- fuel-economy
Fuel Economy Vs Speed

Hypermiling (Slipstreaming)

The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of slipstreaming for vehicles is: an area of reduced air pressure and forward suction immediately behind a rapidly moving vehicle.

Mythbusters conducted an experiment involving slipstreaming that revealed that by following an HGV vehicle at a distance of just 10 feet a vehicle’s fuel economy can be increased by an amazing 39%!

However, close slipstreaming ( sometimes called close hypermiling) is extremely dangerous and should only be attempted by professional drivers on a closed racetrack and should never be attempted on public roads.

When used correctly and in conjunction with other safe driving habits slipstreaming can increase a vehicle’s fuel economy as demonstrated in the table below.

Distance Apart (Feet)MPG% Difference
10035.511%
5038.520%
2040.527%
1044.539%
Slipstreaming (Hypermiling ) at a constant speed of 55MPH

Don’t Lose Momentum

Good fuel economy can be achieved by smooth driving in high gear with little to no braking and pre-empting any oncoming hazards that will force a speed change.

It’s all about keeping the momentum that your fuel has paid for and keeping that at the forefront of your mind.

Always remember that coasting in gear uses little to no fuel. But braking and then accelerating (especially from a standing start), plus traveling up inclines and against the wind increases fuel use.

So to keep the momentum you should read the road ahead, plan for problems and try not to use the brakes but gently ease off the throttle to reduce your speed.

Keep moving and judge inclines not just by the gradient but by how long it will take to travel up it.
If it’s just a short rise or you are near the top, it’s better to coast up, lose the speed, and then gently accelerate on more level ground.

Coasting In Gear (Rolling)

Taking your foot off the accelerator while the vehicle is in gear shuts off the engine throttle and little to no fuel will be consumed.
However, taking your foot off the accelerator and placing the vehicle in neutral does not shut off the engine throttle and fuel will continue to be consumed.

Use Your Fuel-Saving Stop/Start Feature

Many vehicles have stop/start devices fitted to them that turn the engine off when the vehicle is stopped and is idling.

Stop-start devices were added to vehicles to increase fuel economy and to lower their environmental impact as a stationary vehicle can be at stoplights for an average of 45 to 120 seconds.

Modern engines only require about 10 seconds of fuel to start which means that the stop-start device can save up to 110 seconds of fuel, (plus the subsequent emissions) at most stoplights.

Dad’s Tip: Do not perform this operation manually with an old or classic car as the starter motor may be too weak to handle dozens of starts per day.

Take Advantage Of The Upshift Indicator.

Many modern vehicles have an upshift indicator on their dashboard panel which advises the driver when to change gear.

In an EPA city-driving test, those who used the upshift indicator yielded an average gas milage improvement of more than 9%.

This 9% plus improvement is achieved as information from sensors within the engine assesses the optimum time to shift gear and passes this onto the driver.

Check Your Wheel Alignment

Just hitting one large pothole can cause components to become damaged or misaligned which will then hurt fuel consumption.

In fact, anything that hits the suspension hard such as a rock or the curbside can knock the wheels out of alignment and force the engine to work harder to overcome the drag effect created by misaligned wheels.

And although the effect may seem weak you must remember that it is constant and so is the drain on your fuel.

Dad’s Tip: Having your wheel alignment checked and rebalanced regularly, (or annually) will improve your fuel economy, lower your maintenance costs and extend the life of your tires.

Have Your Vehicle Tuned Regularly

Regular maintenance is crucial to achieving good fuel economy so please don’t miss a service as this is a false economy.

For example, a faulty fuel injector or a misfiring spark plug can dump fuel into the engine beyond the combustion chamber and decrease your estimated mileage by up to 30%.

Furthermore, any unburnt fuel moving beyond the combustion chamber can then find its way into the exhaust system and into your catalytic converter where it may ignite.

Igniting fuel in a catalytic converter will create additional heat pushing the converter beyond its normal operating limits, causing a meltdown or repairable damage.

In Summary

In trying to achieve good fuel economy you won’t just be saving money but you will be saving the environment too.

Driving less and slower will result in less fuel being burned and fewer emissions being released into the atmosphere.

In fact, fuel-efficient driving can lower your carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 25% or more and that’s without driving a modern hybrid vehicle!

So remember to achieve good fuel economy you just need to accelerate gently, coast in gear, read the road ahead and adjust to problems early with a respectful avoidance of high speeds and heavy braking.

Do all of this and your fuel costs will come down along with your blood pressure, and I and the environment will thank you for it.

A proud father of two boys, an amateur actor, and a green living enthusiast, Mark has been sharing hints, tips, and sustainable living content on his website Sustainability Dad since august 2019.

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