Sure, it’s fun to go on a long road trip this summer. Lounging at the beach with your friends seems nice, but the high prices of petrol may make you want to postpone those plans.
You don’t have to break your wallet, because there are several techniques for you to squeeze more mileage out of your gas tank.
Here’s a list of 10 tips to improve your car’s fuel efficiency:
1. Know your car’s recommended octane level.
Fuel economy starts with choosing the right fuel. There’s a myth going around that says your car becomes more fuel-efficient if you load up with fuel that has a different octane than what is recommended by your car’s manufacturer. Don’t believe that, though. A lower octane will make your engine work harder, and may cause damage to it. Then a higher octane is just a waste, because your car will not be able to take full advantage of it. Read your car’s manual so you can stick with what’s recommended.
2. Run on the highest gear
Did you know that driving in the highest gear possible is fuel-efficient? Car experts say that zooming at 60 km/h at fifth gear burns less gas than traveling the same speed at fourth gear. So do not be afraid to accelerate to the highest gear of your car if the road is clear. Do it as fast as you can to make less fuel refills.
3. Lighten the load
And here is an obvious trick: you can reach the maximum gear easier if you keep your car light. Avoid using your car as a storage facility; that’s just tacky. Don’t carry around unnecessary objects on all of your drives. Do you really need to carry around a luggage full of clothes to the camp site? Why are you carrying a foldable bike when you are just going to the mall?
You should also remove unnecessary modifications–like that boat rack on your vehicle’s roof. Doing this reduces wind drag, which slows you down and reduces your fuel efficiency by a few percentages.
4. Close the windows
Another foolproof way to reduce wind drag is to make sure that all your windows, and any other opening (sunroofs, for example) are closed. This has to do with aerodynamics, or how an object moves through air. If a window, or two, is open, the air goes inside your car, creating backward drag. If you feel that the car is too hot if the windows are closed, just use the air vents or turn on the air con.
5. Don’t stop and start
Driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic isn’t just tiring. It also depletes your gas quicker because every time you stop your car, you have to burn a huge amount of fuel to get it moving again. So here’s a technique: when you see a car stop ahead, remove your foot on the gas pedal and let your car cruise slowly to it. This way, there’s a possibility that you would avoid stopping completely because that car could already start before you reach it. You can only learn this technique over time, so make it a habit.
6. Avoid traffic
Once again, driving in heavy traffic is a surefire way to make more visits to the gas station. This is why you should avoid taking your car out during the rush hour if you have a choice. If that means waking up earlier than usual, then so be it. Anyway, you can always catch up on sleep when you reach your destination.
7. Use a navigation app
Can’t avoid the rush hour? Have no fear. There’s still a way to avoid traffic. Just use a navigation app on your smartphone, like Waze or Google Maps. These apps use your phone’s GPS and data connection to give you nifty features like turn-by-turn navigation and estimated travel time. They also give you traffic details in real-time, so it can suggest what roads you should take to avoid any heavy traffic.
Just make sure to place your phone on your line of sight so you can avoid accidents (from looking at your phone while driving). You can even attach it to a sturdy smartphone car mount so you can go hands-free.
8. Plan your trips
You can also reduce your time on the road by planning your trips even before you turn on the car. Take a mental note of where you are going for the day, so you can multi-task. If you are already driving to the post office to drop off a letter to your mom, you can also consider picking up groceries from the Walmart down the road. This way, you don’t have to drive again later in the week just to top off your pantry.
9. Watch your tires
You have to maintain the pressure on your car’s tires to the recommended PSI, because an underinflated tire increases the contact area between that tire and the road. A soft tire causes more friction, reducing speed and increasing the fuel consumption. You can purchase your own tire pressure gauge so you can check the PSI regularly, so you can know if you have to add air. And if your tire constantly loses pressure, you should consider replacing the tires.
Determine the right PSI of your tires by checking your car’s manual. A sticker with the information should also be found on the edge of the door of the driver’s seat, on the door post, on the fuel refill door or in the glovebox.
10. Don’t idle your engine
We’re all guilty of this one: when we’re picking up someone and that person’s taking a long time to get to your car, we let the engine run idly so we can quickly drive away when the person arrives. Keeping the engine running also lets us use the air con and listen to the radio.
And yet this is a bad thing because it burns gas without getting us to the destination. Just turn your engine off and roll down the windows if it gets too hot. You can also talk to the person you’re picking up so they would hurry up. Tell them that the environment wants them to.