Thursday, 21 November 2013

Burn Another Day-Saving fuel isn't rocket science

Making your car’s juice run for as long as possible is the need of the hour. Efficiency is king and had literally changed fuel loyalties/preference for people. Even a person with a 1000kms monthly running would opt for a diesel had it not been for the more expensive engine, not only because the fuel is cheaper but also because that one litre of diesel goes a longer way. You’ve seen the “save fuel, yaani save money” advertisements on TV and heard it on the radio, but under real world conditions; getting close to that company claimed mileage is nothing short of a miracle.

Here is a list of the little things you don’t realize you do while driving that eat into your fuel economy.

1. Signal Racer:

You’re right up front at a signal that’s gone red. You’re a regular on the road so instead of waiting for the light to go green, you stare at the pedestrian signal. The moment you spot that little red man flashing the theme from The Fast & the Furious plays in your head and you gun it. After 4.5 seconds of adrenaline fueled happiness, lo and behold you’re at yet another signal where the 60 year old on a rickety old scooter has caught up to you. These short bursts waste fuel unnecessarily and don’t save you any time or cover more distance.

2. The crawler:

Yes, traffic crawling is something that is hard to escape. More often than not you spend 10 minutes to get across 10 metres, but the constant tango between the clutch and accelerator results in heavy fuel consumption. Don’t move your car forward unless it looks like traffic ahead is shifting a reasonable amount.

3. No lane loyalty:

Sticking to your lane is a simple rule that makes your life a lot easier and actually saves you fuel. Just think to yourself “How many times have a I shifted to a lane that was moving when mine wasn't, only to find that a car that was right behind me is now 3 cars ahead of me?” Constant lane shifting burns your fuel for the illusion of progress. You aren't getting to your destination and sooner, it slows traffic down even more and you just made your journey more expensive. There will be a point where your lane moves while the other doesn't, so stay where you are and avoid deviating unnecessarily.

4. Under-shifting/over revving:

These two opposites of too conservative VS too impatient are equally bad. Shifting up a gear too soon just means that you will have to downshift again sooner while putting excessive pressure on your engine. Constant gear shifts mean your rpm is fluctuating too much, thereby burning more fuel.
Over revving is just burning more fuel for no rhyme or reason. It’s a car’s equivalent of smoking i.e. spending money for absolutely no benefit. Don’t try and start off in 2nd gear by over revving the engine when your car clearly wants to be in a lower gear.

5. Heavy Pedal Highways:

High speeds are the biggest temptress on the open road. However, one thing that truck drivers will tell you is “A person driving at 100kmh will reach his destination a maximum of  3-5 minutes earlier than a person driving at 60kmh”. Granted, in middle-eastern countries your average speed on arterial roads will be 100kmh, but in India you will be blocked by struggling trucks or jam the brakes because some moron is driving at 40kmh in the overtaking lane or not sticking to one lane at all or because a bad patch of road showed up out of nowhere which means constant accelerating and braking for no improvement in time saved or distance made.

So, literally you are driving the exact same way you do in bumper to bumper traffic, only at higher speeds. Try coasting to save your fuel. Instead of tailgating someone till they move, let go of the gas pedal early on. Your torque will take you ahead fast enough that braking won’t be necessary. Use your flasher to warn the driver ahead to get out of the way, so you can accelerate from a higher speed. Minimum rpm fluctuation ensures minimum fuel consumption.

These are just a few things that we involuntarily do. After all this is not just observation it is also personal experience that made me notice these things. It’s fine to indulge sometimes, but remember that there’s more to fuel economy than just driving slowly.

Here's some proof. By simply following the activities/rules mentioned above, I managed to milk 16.4kmpl from my 2011 Honda Jazz (powered by a 1.2-litre, 90 bhp petrol engine). A car that in regular city driving conditions managed 12kmpl at best when driven with an impatient foot.