Extreme fuel saving 101

October 25, 2013 by  
Filed under Wind Energy Tips

Your driving style has changed; you’re saving petrol and money. Are you ready to take it to the next level?  

Drive like a granny? Check.
Tyres properly inflated? Check. 
Air-conditioner off and windows closed? Check.  

Having fun trying to increase your car’s mileage?  Even if you’ve managed to slash your fuel consumption you’ll be able to do considerably better if you employ some lesser known, more extreme fuel savings techniques.

Before we get to that here are some well-known suggestions:

• Buy a fuel efficient car.

• Buy a scooter. They’re cheap, fun to ride and hilariously frugal.  They’re great for short, urban commutes – especially where parking space is at a premium.

• Keep track of your fuel consumption.  

• Slow down. This is, by far, the single most effective action you can take to cut down your fuel consumption. High speeds increase aerodynamic drag and mechanical friction. Driving just 8km/h over the speed limit can add 23 percent to your consumption while travelling at 90km/h can improve your fuel economy by up to 21 percent compared to driving at 110km/h.

• Avoid breakneck acceleration. Speed up smoothly and gear up as quickly as possible. If conditions allow it, such as when you’re going downhill, skip a gear but don’t labour the engine. 

• Anticipate the traffic and keep momentum. Try to avoid stop-start driving. Increase your following distance. This will give you enough time to break evenly. If you can avoid stopping or slowing down too much at robots or in traffic you won’t consume much fuel to get back up to speed again. A smooth driving style alone can reduce your consumption by as much as five percent on the highway and 30 percent in traffic.

• Regularly service your car. Maintain correct tyre pressure and wheel alignment.

• Use the air-conditioner only when necessary and close the windows. Where possible use the fan instead. Park in the shade when you can. This keeps your car cool and saves on air-conditioning. If it’s really hot, and you’re driving at city speeds, then rolling down the window is better than opting for the air-conditioner. If, however, you’re approaching highway speeds rather go for the air-conditioner as the drag created by a rolled down window would harm your consumption figures more than the air-conditioner would.

• Remove unnecessary items from your boot or roof.

Next level fuel saving techniques

These tips include lesser known tips and techniques for saving fuel.  Once you’ve mastered these you might want to check out (at your own risk!) the extreme tips that follow.

• Always use your handbrake on inclines as riding the clutch or using the accelerator in an automatic guzzles fuel.

• Turn your engine off if you drive a fuel-injection car and you’re going to stop for seven seconds or more.

• Radial-ply tyres decrease resistance and can improve efficiency by up to five percent. Never mix cross-ply tyres with radial-ply tyres on the same axle. If you’re only fitting two put them on the rear wheels.

• Switch off all unnecessary electronic components as they cause the alternator to work harder which causes the engine to use more fuel.

• Do not warm your engine before driving off as this is wholly unnecessary and a waste of petrol.

• Drive your car until its tank is almost empty as you’ll be carrying a lighter load for longer.

• Plan better so as to combine all your shorter trips into one.  Your engine will only operate efficiently after it’s warmed up which is why many short trips will increase overall fuel consumption.  If you have multiple destinations drive to the furthest one first and stop at the closer ones as you’re heading home, thereby ensuring your engine is warmed up for a longer portion of the trip.

Extreme fuel saving techniques you probably should not try

How far can you push when trying to conserve petrol?  Well, how about shutting your engine off on a highway while tailgating a lorry?  Or giving up a parking space right in front of the bank because you can’t park front-out?

If some of the following techniques seem bizarre and dangerous it’s because they are.  Most of these methods, though effective, are for your reading pleasure only.  Don’t try this at home!  

“Pulse” then glide. This technique is sure to piss off fellow road users, but it will slash your consumption and could come in handy in an emergency such as when you’re running out of petrol with refuelling some way off.

Smoothly speed up to about 10 kilometres per hour faster than the average speed you want to travel at.  Turn your engine off and glide to about 10 kilometres per hour below your desired average speed.  Repeat this until you find a petrol station.

Internal combustion engines mostly operate at far below optimal efficiency. When increasing speed (“pulsing”) the engine efficiency improves due to high torque which is stored as kinetic energy of the moving car. This efficiently-obtained kinetic energy is then used in the glide phase to overcome rolling resistance and aerodynamic drag. In other words, going between periods of very efficient acceleration and gliding gives an overall efficiency that is usually significantly higher than just cruising at a constant speed.

This technique works extremely well to reduce overall fuel consumption when your average driving speed is quite low (40km/h to 60km/h) as cruising at such low speeds is very inefficient since the torque needed is so low.

Riding the ridge. Driving with your left two wheels on the painted strip offers less friction than driving normally in the middle of a lane, especially when the road is wet.

Keep the accelerator steady, not your speed. Forget about keeping a steady speed, but rather focus on keeping the accelerator fixed in one position. This will cause you to slow down when going uphill and speed up when going down.

Drive as if your brakes are non-existent or very weak. Braking, obviously, causes you to lose speed and, therefore, kinetic energy.  If you drive like your brakes are failing then you’ll naturally increase the distance between you and the car in front of you.  In traffic you’ll be driving very slowly while other cars will constantly be stopping and going.

Redefine what you consider a good parking spot. Always choose a bay that permits you to drive off going forward and, if you can, downhill.

Stopping at red robots. Try to avoid stopping by slowing down as far back as you can.  If you reach a red robot on a decline, stop as far from it as possible and let gravity help you drive off when it turns green.  Alternatively, avoid stopping altogether.

Cruise at 80km/h on the highway. If you’re not pulsing and gliding, and would rather cruise, then choose your car’s most efficient speed in top gear.  This will almost certainly be much slower than the rest of the traffic.

Remove everything you can to reduce weight. Go crazy! Remove the passenger seats if you have to!

Overinflate your tyres. Don’t stick you your car manufacturer’s recommendations; overinflate!

Ride the slipstream of the vehicle in front of you. This works especially well if there’s a very large SUV or, better yet, a lorry in front of you.  The closer you get to the car you’re tailgating the less wind resistance there’ll be. You may also experiment with shutting off your engine “on approach”.

Take sharp curves at high speeds. Slowing down as little as possible around turns will save momentum and therefore fuel.

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