Top Tips for Saving Fuel

MAC puts on his engineering cap again, and runs through viable fuel saving tips after discarding the nonsensical ones.  On a daily ba...

MAC puts on his engineering cap again, and runs through viable fuel saving tips after discarding the nonsensical ones. 

On a daily basis we seem to see some advert from yet another fuel company claiming that its fuel will leave your engine deposit-free whilst delivering increased fuel efficiency.

This got me to thinking and, in a quiet moment, I decided to have a trawl around the internet to see what other people were suggesting to aid with saving fuel; there were a lot of tips and ideas, ranging from the absurd to the ingenious. In reality though, there were just a few tips that made sense and were practical enough to make them suitable for the everyday motorist. 

Put your car on a diet.

This seems obvious but every pound of extra weight will dramatically affect your fuel consumption; this is why the likes of BMW love carbon fibre and Jaguar love aluminium. A report by the USA’s Environmental Protection Agency claims that every 45 kilo’s you take out of the car will improve your fuel economy by about 2%. Changing old-style steel wheels for lighter weight alloys is an obvious way to shed some pounds, as is getting rid of any excess in your boot, such as tool kits and even the spare if you can afford to switch to run-flat tyres. If you want to be extreme, you could always replace your boot lid and bonnet with carbon fibre, but the cost of these will probably exceed any fuel savings.

Keep calm and drive sensibly.

Aggressive driving will waste fuel by as much as 33% at highway speeds and 5% around town. A lot of hybrid vehicles actually try to ‘harvest’ the wasted energy during braking; so remember: every bit of kinetic energy that your brakes dissipate as heat, your engine burns in fuel to gain the speed you are now trying to lose. Likewise, and although all vehicles reach their maximum efficiency at different speeds, fuel efficiency usually takes a nosedive once you get over 80kph. When you are on the highway, cruise control will also help you avoid large fuel bills.

Dump the roof top accessories.

Hauling cargo in a roof box or leaving your bike rack on because it is a hassle to take it off increases aerodynamic drag and lowers fuel economy. Around town, even the most efficient roof boxes can reduce efficiency by as much as 8% and up to 25% on the highway.

Under pressure.

Maintaining the correct tyre pressure for your car is one of the simplest ways of ensuring that your motoring costs are kept under check. If your tyres are under-inflated, there is more resistance and this could cost you up to 3% on your fuel economy, not to mention wears your tyres out faster.

Air con on or windows down.

Running your aircon can account for as much as 8% of the car’s power output, so there is a strong argument that switching off your aircon and rolling down the windows is the way to go. But not so fast - for anyone who lives in the tropics, sitting in a traffic jam without aircon is just not an option. In more temperate climates though, this is an option and in fact was even a topic in a Mythbuster episode. At low speeds, the Mythbuster duo of Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman proved that no aircon is the way to go, but once you get up to highway speed, the increased drag from having your windows open makes your vehicle less efficient. Not surprisingly, on the Mythbuster show, they seem to find that 80kph was the magic speed at which it became less efficient to have your windows open.

Reducing internal engine friction.

Most motorist don’t realise that the internal combustion engine is not a really efficient system, but it is pretty much our only option. Within the engine, there is a power and efficiency robbing effect, that is friction. By reducing friction in your engine, you can increase efficiency by 7-10%, probably the biggest saving you can make easily. There are a number of good Engine Additives in the market, but we favour the one that has been tested and approved by NASA and used in the Space Shuttle programme, that is X-1R Engine Treatment, a product so good that it was displayed in the Smithsonian Institute as part of the Space Shuttle Exhibition. But don’t take our word for it; go to the NASA and Space Foundation websites, and read for yourself.



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