Whether you’re an experienced car driver or one with a newly-minted license behind the wheel of a vehicle from a car rental company, there will be occasions where you are surprised at how soon you need to stop by the petrol kiosk again. Extend the time between two petrol pumps with these 8 tips that cover both what you could do for the car and how you could drive. Besides saving money, it would be environmentally beneficial too!
Spurts of acceleration increases our fuel usage by up to 20%. The economical optimum speed for a vehicle is a constant of about 80-90km/h at the highest gear. At speeds any higher, significantly more fuel would be used to travel. This is something to remember by on our Singapore highways whenever the speed limit and traffic permits. It may be tempting to accelerate to go past the next vehicle but that would be futile if you are nearing an exit with a set of traffic lights in the way.
Consolidate trips and errands
An engine started from cold after being parked for hours uses more fuel for the first 8km or so. With that knowledge, we could use less fuel by arranging for our errands and trips to be consolidated. While we cannot shift when we pick up the kids from school, we could choose to combine such fixed trips with more flexible ones like visits to the supermarket. If you rent a car for a few days, you may wish to pack your errands right after collection and before returning it to the car rental service.
Turn off engine while waiting
We have all been there. While waiting for a family member to buy dinner or to grab something they forgot, we remain in the car with the engine running. That burns fuel. It is advisable for us switch off the engine if we know we will be stationary for more than a minute. Naturally, this may be easier to adhere to when we are parked in the shade and in the evenings when we are not subjected to the wrath of our tropical heat and humidity.
Remove roof racks and boxes strapped on top
The effect of this is similar to that of having windows left open except that it is worse. Unused roof racks and empty boxes still make up significant deadweight that implicate fuel efficiency. Its presence also increases drag where increases in speed results in the vehicle experiencing more wind resistance and thus more fuel required to power your car. With improved designs, car racks can be attached and detached easily which should motivate us to do so according to when we need them.
Remove unnecessary weight
We have the tendency to leave things in cars – typically in the boot or the back seat – because we are not sure when we might need them. “You will be glad to have them when you need them” seems like a valid justification for that extra packet of tissue paper, CashCards and batteries but not so much for other non-essentials. Known common items include golf clubs and market trolleys. Another reason we may have non-essentials is from the procrastination of handing over things to the intended party such as the documents or clothes that we may have been carrying around for weeks in the boot.
Check tyre pressure
Sufficiently and accurately inflated tyres are critical for their longevity and the safety of all on board a vehicle. The bonus? Your vehicle becomes more fuel-efficient. With lower-than-optimal tyre pressure, a vehicle would need more fuel to travel. It is recommended that you check your tyres every fortnight. The pressure figures for your vehicle is typically indicated near the lock inside the driver’s door. For some car owners with tyre pressure indicators on the dashboard, we hope we have given enough reasons to address them when you are notified of low tyre pressure.
Shut windows and sunroof
For most of us, we only wind down the windows to get rid of a stubborn odour. In that action, we are not expecting fresh air to be introduced as a wave of dust, sand, insects or even bird droppings may descend on us especially with the prolonged opening of the sunroof. For those of us with little fear of foreign particles, perhaps we should consider the implication of open windows and sunroofs on the aerodynamics of the vehicle. Cars are designed to reduce drag which we know reduces fuel efficiency. The noise of wind we hear with the windows open is an indication of the additional burden the vehicle is put through against the wind resistance. The occasional opening might be necessary at times but it would serve us better to close it sooner than later.
Avoid rush hours
Nobody loves driving into a traffic jam. Besides a waste of time and a toll on the physical health of drivers, it is also uses extra fuel to start and stop each time. An ideal solution would be to avoid rush hours but would not always be feasible in fast paced cities like Singapore. A better alternative would be the practice of travelling at a slow consistent pace by anticipation of the traffic ahead. This minimizes braking and acceleration from complete standstills which would save some fuel.