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Fuel Efficiency: How to Reduce Your Fuel Costs

by Dave Dobson

Car ownership can be a costly affair, with fuel expenditure being one of the most significant costs. In essence, it is unavoidable. However, there are many steps that a vehicle owner can take to cut down on their fuel expenditure. In this guide, I will highlight some major tips that all drivers can implement to improve their fuel efficiency.


Check your tires

Most drivers don’t appreciate the significance that car tires play in their vehicle’s fuel efficiency. All drivers should always be aware of their tire pressure. When tires are underinflated, the surface area in contact with the road increases. This results in increased friction which requires more fuel to be used during the driving process. Car owners should also be vigilant when it comes to making the switch between winter and summer tires. Using the wrong tires results in more fuel being used. Similarly, using worn-out tires has a negative effect on a vehicle’s fuel efficiency.


Focus on route planning

Planning your route should be an important, and very deliberate, action. Personally, I ensure that I list down all the errands that need to be carried out before each trip. This ensures that I choose a route that combines all errands in the shortest possible route – a tip which I cannot recommend enough. Using simple technological tools like a GPS app also helps one to plan the most efficient route. Traffic apps help reduce commute times, and subsequently fuel usage. It is also important to consider road surface quality when planning one’s route. Generally, rougher surfaces result in more fuel consumption when compared to smoother surfaces.


Choose the right engine size

There are many factors that an individual considers when purchasing a vehicle. While everyone has their preferences, it is important to ensure that you get the right engine size – as per your needs. Many people, and businesses, have vehicles with engine capacities that are unnecessarily large. These end up consuming more fuel than one would have with the right engine size. It can be beneficial to consult with a mechanic who can objectively determine the right engine size based on the vehicle’s usage. For corporations that manage large fleets, such changes can save a business a lot of money in the long-term.


Carry out regular engine checkups

Every driver needs to understand that optimum fuel efficiency can only be achieved when a vehicle’s engine is performing optimally. For starters, the fuel combustion process – which powers the vehicle – needs to be efficient. If the fuel combustion process is inefficient, a lot of unburnt fuel is wasted by being expelled through the exhaust system. Depending on one’s vehicle, small parts like air filters and oxygen sensors can have a very large impact on fuel combustion efficiency. Other engine parts that are not related to the combustion process should also be performing optimally to ensure optimum fuel efficiency. A poorly performing engine will always require more fuel to perform at the same level as a similar vehicle that is well serviced.


Be aware of your driving habits

Fuel efficiency is not just about the vehicle, the driver has a big influence on fuel consumption. Leaving a vehicle idle for more than a minute wastes a lot of fuel. Modern engines don’t combust a lot of fuel when they are switched on and off multiple times. Similarly, cutting out aggressive accelerating and hard braking can result in significant fuel cost savings. When driving, a vehicle uses significantly less fuel when driving on a higher gear than on a lower gear. Without straining the engine, one should strive to use the highest possible acceptable gear depending on the vehicle and the current speeds. Using cruise control also does wonders for a vehicle’s overall fuel efficiency – especially on longer trips. Revving the engine unnecessarily is another bad driver habit that has a negative impact on fuel efficiency.


Read your car manual

Vehicle manuals, which can usually be accessed for free on the manufacturers’ website, provide valuable insight on the right products to use in your car. In particular, it provides advice on the right fuel type to use. Many drivers use high octane fuel (premium option) on their vehicle even though their vehicle requires a lower octane content. High octane fuel costs are significantly more than ‘regular’ versions. Also, the manual should provide direction on the right type of engine oil to use. Using the wrong engine oil can negatively affect the vehicle’s fuel efficiency.


The last word

While fuel costs are unavoidable, car owners can make significant savings by taking steps to improve their fuel efficiency. Regular engine and tire maintenance, working on one’s driving habits, and understanding the right products for your car go a long way towards cutting down on fuel costs.


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