Improving fuel economy

Following on from last week’s article, this week we are talking about improving fuel economy.

Now that you know how to calculate fuel economy, let’s look at ways to improve it!

Improvements before you start the engine

  • Remove anything in the vehicle that is not required. Lighter vehicles use less fuel. Take it out!
  • Pump up the tyres to the manufacturers recommended pressure. Soft tyres create friction and use more fuel.
  • Ensure that the engine is well maintained and running well. Properly adjusted points / electronic ignition uses the fuel better and wastes less, good carb adjustment uses optimal amounts of fuel. It all adds up!
  • Similarly the drive train / brakes / hubs / wheels can create friction and drag slowing down the vehicle taking fuel to overcome it.
  • Remove the top box or roof rack if you do not need it. Aerodynamics makes a big difference even to a vehicle shaped like a loaf of bread!

Improvements once you are rolling

  • Drive safely and conservatively.
  • Stay within the speed limit.
  • Slower is better – every 10mph above 50mph will reduce your fuel economy by 10% on average. Enjoy the journey!
  • Find a route where there is constant speed – a few miles more around the outside of town with no slowing down is probably less fuel overall than going through the middle with the constant speed changes.
  • Accelerate smoothly without taking the engine to the red line.
  • Try not to accelerate up a hill if it is safe to do so.
  • Accelerate down a hill up to the speed limit if it is safe to do so. Remember being on a bicycle and how you used to get up speed downhill ahead of that big hill? That is the same principle of conserving energy!

Logging

  • Keep a diary of the fills. Monitor how things change through the seasons.
  • Observe any big changes and understand why – does one driver have a “heavier foot”? If so, is your biggest fuel saver asking them to be a passenger?!

If EVERYONE makes just a 1% change to their fuel needs, it will save 10 litres per person per year. 1% sounds like nothing but that is 3 billion litres per year in the US and 7 billion litres per year across Europe.

Helping yourself

If you are spending £1,000 per annum on fuel, a well thought out strategy and a £200 service can actually work out cheaper overall but reducing the fuel used / money spent. Drive sensibly, maintain the vehicle well. Not only are you saving fuel and helping the planet, but you are also keeping the vehicle in better shape, making it last longer and stay in better condition.