By Justin Reves, Marketing Manager and Doug McCoy, Production Manager
Anyone else hate how expensive it is to keep gas in your vehicle? Me too.
Before we get too deep, if your frustration is that your vehicle isn’t getting the fuel economy it’s rated for, you need to know that it isn’t going to. And we talked about why that is HERE so check it out.
However, we can get a lot closer to that rating if we change some things. And that’s what we’re talking about here. So, without further ado, here is a list of 10 tips for getting more mileage out of a tank of gas.
#1 – Slow Down a Little Bit and Leave a Little Sooner
I know, I know, no fun! BUT, put your hand out of your window when you’re driving 50km/h then do the same at 120km/h. Notice how much more force is on your hand at the faster speed.
Imagine how that affects the entire front of your vehicle as you keep increasing speed. Vehicles have to work much, much harder at high speeds and are also revving higher thus consuming more fuel.
In our tests, a bigger vehicle like a truck that gets 30MPG at 100km/h can drop as low as 21MPG at 120km/h. That’s a 30 percent decrease (or savings) by simply adjusting your speed a little. On average a vehicle uses 20% more fuel at 120km/h as opposed to 100km/h.
If you were making a weekend trip to somewhere 500km away, at $1.20/l, you would save about $40 by slowing down to 100km/h. Yes it would take you an extra 45 minutes each way, but that’s $40 (after tax money) that you just saved.
Leave a little sooner and you won’t even notice. Then go out for a nice steak dinner when you get there.
#2 – Leave Canada
Ok, #2 is probably not realistic, but it needs to be said – cold weather is so hard on a vehicle and it’s gas mileage. Why? A few reasons.
First, vehicles need to have about 14 parts of air for every 1 part of fuel. When air is really, really dense like it is when it’s cold, it has to pump in a bunch more fuel to compensate to keep the mixture correct. And that’s when the vehicle is warmed up. Before it’s warmed up, a car is dumping in even more gas to get itself up to operating temperatures as quickly as possible using even more fuel.
Second, a cold vehicle (or human) does not move as well when it’s been sitting outside in the cold for a long period of time. All the lubrication in every part of the vehicle is not nearly as slippery which means it takes a lot more energy from the engine to get things moving.
Let your vehicle warm up before you take off. You’ll save yourself gas in the long-run and it’s much easier on the vehicle.
#3 – Don’t Treat Every Light as a Drag Strip
Taking off quickly from stops is one of the biggest ways to waste fuel. This point goes back a bit to the first one, but the engine is working much harder to move your vehicle quickly as opposed to taking off slowly.
Count how long it takes you to get up to 50km/h. Then add 5 seconds. Even if you hit 10 lights, you’re still less than a minute longer to get somewhere and you’re saving money every time.
#4 – Anticipate Traffic Ahead and Don’t Wait Til the Last Minute to Stop
If you see a light ahead is yellow or red, take your foot off the gas and let your vehicle coast. When a vehicle is coasting, it is using virtually no fuel because it’s the wheels that are now making the engine turn.
If you keep accelerating to get close to the light then brake when you’re close to it, you’ve wasted a lot more fuel and put more stress on your brakes. Let the vehicle slow itself down naturally.
Sure, you’re going to drop below the speed limit and get to the light more slowly, but who cares – you’re not going anywhere until the light changes anyway. People behind you will also be forced to take their foot off the gas and you’re now saving them money and the environment.
A side-note for your manual-transmission drivers (like myself). Don’t put your car into neutral or push in your clutch if you can help. Leave it in gear and let the wheels do the work to keep the engine going. If you push in your clutch or go to neutral, the engine now has to use fuel to keep it idling.
#5 – Keep Your Tires Properly Inflated
Having your tires down 10psi (which is hardly noticeable to the eye) can kill off 25% of your fuel mileage. Every second time you fill up your car, you should do a quick check of your tire pressure to make sure it’s right.
Open your driver’s door and look at the bottom or side of the door opening for the proper tire pressure setting. Ignore what the tire says – always go by what the door says.
#6 Don’t Idle Your Vehicle
Do you know how many miles per gallon you get when you are idling? Zero. Do you know how many litres/100km you get when you’re idling? A million-zillion-billion. Or infinity.
Idling is a giant waste of gas. It takes only a few seconds worth of gas to shut off your vehicle and restart it. If you can, shut off your vehicle whenever you’re waiting.
#7 – Keep Your Vehicle in Good Working Order
There’s a reason the saying is “running like a well-oiled machine”. Your vehicle is a machine that needs to be taken care of. If your oil in the engine, transmission, or other drivetrain parts isn’t in good shape, it’s going to take a lot more effort to move the vehicle.
If your wheels or suspension is out of alignment, your vehicle is going to be working against itself to move and that takes more fuel.
Lots of other general maintenance has a big impact on your fuel life. Make sure you’re doing your maintenance to keep it running and moving like it should.
#8 – Dump Extra Weight
If you’re carrying a bunch of heavy stuff in your vehicle that you don’t need, it’s making your vehicle harder to move and the engine has to work harder. Clean out your trunk.
#9 – Plan Ahead
You want to keep your engine warm. A warm engine uses less fuel. You also want to drive less. Plan your route so you can take the most direct routes and group your short stops so your engine doesn’t cool down.
#10 – Put Your Fuel Consumption Front and Centre
If your vehicle has something that shows your current fuel economy, leave it on that screen. You will naturally be more conscious of your fuel consumption and drive more efficiently.
By doing lots of little things, you can actually have a big impact on your overall fuel consumption. You’re probably spending somewhere around $3000/year on gas. If you can be 10-15% more efficient, you’re saving hundreds of dollars. It adds up.