Four fuel saving tips for drivers

Fuel prices are about to go up. Here’s our guide to saving fuel. The good news? You don’t have to change your car

By Shahzad Sheikh

Four fuel saving tips for drivers

So the big news in the UAE is the deregulation of fuel – main story here – and the fact is that it means we’re all going to be spending more money on fuel from the beginning of next month (1st August 2015) – for the new prices click here now.

The temptation is to immediately think about going out and buying a more fuel efficient car – maybe even a diesel or hybrid (and you can use our new car buying guide to help you with that).

But stop and think about that carefully for a moment. Considering the potentially high cost-to-change, unless you’re doing a tremendous amount of mileage per year, that may actually be a false economy.

In any case, the fact is that the vast majority of drivers here are pretty wasteful in the way they pedal their cars – simply because fuel costs were not previously an issue. So before you do anything else, it’s time to gen up on fuel saving techniques – you may find that your fuel cost don’t go up by as much as you feared (or even at all)!

Four fuel saving tips for drivers

1. Look after your car

Your car is most fuel efficient when it’s working at optimum levels, and the only way to ensure that is to regularly service your car and have it checked to make sure everything is operating as it should be.

Even the type, quality and condition of the oil in your engine can have an impact on fuel usage. And you can even help yourself by opting for high performance spark plugs like iridium-tipped editions – they create a bigger bang which more efficiently burns up fuel and air in the combustion chamber. That gives more power, lower emissions, and improved fuel efficiency.

And then there are your tyres. For your own safety you need to make sure your tyres are in the best of condition, but remember that if they’re not at the correct pressure that also costs you fuel – under-inflated tyres can increase fuel consumption by up to 3%!

Four fuel saving tips for drivers

2. Streamline and lighten

It should be pretty obvious that the more weight you carry around in your car, the more fuel you will use. And yet people sometimes use their cars as extra home storage! Clear out anything unnecessary from your car.

Similarly aerodynamics contributes a lot to fuel economy – more than you’d imagine. Roof racks and light bars (be warned off-roader owners!) have an obvious impact, but even open windows introduce drag that will gobble up valuable petrol.

Air conditioning can increase fuel consumption by up to 10%, so opening the windows at low speed and leaving the a/c off will actually save you fuel. However above 100kph it’s actually better to use the a/c and keep the windows closed.

Lighten the power load too – using the electrics (stereo, lights, wipers, charging devices) at lower speeds also consumes extra fuel.

Four fuel saving tips for drivers

3. Plan your journey

Think ahead and save fuel:

  • Do you really need to make this journey?
  • Could you use an alternative that might be cheaper – walking, cycling, bus, metro even a lift with a friend or colleague? Think about car pooling to work.
  • Can you avoid rush hour? Driving in traffic uses a lot more fuel.
  • Combine trips – get all your errands done in one round-trip (cold starting uses more fuel).
  • Think about and plan your drive – choose the most direct route, use apps like Google maps and the brilliant Dubai RTA Smart Drive app that shows traffic congestion, to help you. And remember getting lost will gulp extra fuel.
  • Park Smart!
    • Sometimes we get to a Mall and drive around for ages trying to find a good spot near the entrance, when in fact you should park close to the car park exit (a shorter distance to get out), and you won’t waste fuel driving about.
    • Park facing outwards so that you can start up and drive off immediately without having to cautiously back out and worry about other cars or pedestrians.

Four fuel saving tips for drivers

4. Hypermiling

There are also several driving techniques that are very  effective at reducing fuel consumption considerably:

  • Modern cars don’t need to be warmed up – so don’t idle, don’t dawdle, just start-up and go.
  • Accelerate gently and use as little throttle as possible.
  • Try to get up into and stay in the higher gears – if you have a manual car change up at around 2500rpm.
  • Avoid unnecessary braking – it wastes energy – get off the gas earlier when you need to slow, letting friction and gravity do some of the work.
  • Look further ahead, plan your manoeuvres well before you execute them, read the road – swerving, harsh braking, sudden acceleration etc will all use up more fuel. Adopt defensive driving techniques.
  • It’s better to park up at a service stop and take a break from traffic than persist with it, the constant stop-start and static engine running with the a/c and stereo on is all using up valuable fuel.
  • Slow down! Driving constantly at 130kph can use up to 25% more fuel than driving at 110kph. Also speeding up between cameras and then braking before they flash you, uses up considerably more fuel than maintaining constant speed (use the cruise control).

Four fuel saving tips for drivers

  • Coasting:
    • DO NOT switch off the engine whilst driving on the road! This is VERY dangerous – you’ll lose power steering and assisted brakes and all the built-in safety and alert systems in the car, your steering wheel could also lock itself into a fixed position.
    • DO NOT coast by putting the clutch down or putting the car in neutral – the engine actually goes into idle mode as if it is stationary with the engine on and will actually use more fuel, not less!
    • DO coast by simply taking your foot off the gas pedal and allow natural momentum to carry the vehicle forward, particularly downhill. In modern cars lifting off the accelerator shuts off the injectors and minimises fuel usage.

Follow these simple tips and you could see your current overall fuel consumption drop by as much as 30% or more! Which may actually mean you end up spending the same amount on fuel.

Four fuel saving tips for drivers

Hope you found our fuel saving tips for drivers useful! Do let us know how you get on in the comments section below.

See also –
Hot Weather Driving Tips
Rain and fog Driving Tips

Ramadan Driving Tips

3 responses to “Four fuel saving tips for drivers”

  1. HishMaj says:

    Further to your tip on avoiding stop-start, this doesn’t apply to those cars that turns itself off when coming to a complete halt (at the lights or in heavy traffic), right?

    • admin says:

      It does actually. They will certainly use less fuel than a car without automatic switch off, but they’ll still use more than if you did the same route in less traffic without having to stop so often. However, if you have a auto switch-off in your car and you want to save fuel, you should definitely use it. It will help especially at some of the long hold traffic lights. Be aware though that it usually cuts the a/c cooling too, although if the temperature rises significantly the thermostat will detect it and most cars will turn themselves back on during long holds for the sake of the aircon.

  2. Theo Scheepers says:

    Use cruise control as much as possible.. In town, to accelerate out of roundabouts, etc. Cruise control will keep the motor at a constant the rpm, which uses less fuel than the slight (but constant) rpm change that happens when you try to keep the car at a fixed speed.
    On my 300hp (modified) 1.6L turbo I easily get 650-700km on a single 50L tank… The most I’ve gotten {by driving like a granny) is 812km

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