Fuel Economy by Seph Njenga

Posted on January 4th, 2012
Categories: News

Your driving style may help save a coin or two at the pump

Owning a car has gradually ceased to be a luxurious venture in the 21st century era. A personal or family car is rapidly turning into a much needed asset for movement and convenience.

However, driving your car can be a nightmare considering the escalating prices of fuel. The increasing fuel prices dampen the driving mood of most drivers and have seen some pack their “toys” at home, sometimes having to endure the harsh treatment of matatus touts as they settle for public means of transport. You can tell its end month in Nairobi without referring to the calendar by just observing traffic on the roads.

Your driving style may help contain the situation significantly and here are a few suggestions that you may want to adopt to help you save a coin or two at the pump.

Pick a better route

Avoid heavy traffic and lots of traffic lights. The shortest route is not always the most fuel efficient if you have to stop a lot.

Use the correct grade of motor oil

The grade of the oil pretty much tells us about the viscosity. If you use the wrong grade, you may increase the friction in your engine. It gets hotter and uses more gas.

Brake the right way

A car consumes most gas as it accelerates. It’s a simply a law physics (force equals mass times acceleration). A moving car doesn’t require much gasoline to keep moving (due to the inherent inertia). In real life this means, in order to improve your mileage you need to keep the ride smooth.

Avoid speeding up and slamming on the brakes all the time. Observe the flow of traffic ahead to help anticipate when things will slow down and you can ease off the gas. This will help maintain a constant speed in traffic and can be an efficient way to save fuel giving you up to 10% – 20% better fuel mileage.

Whenever you are approaching traffic lights, start slowing down a lot sooner and always avoid coming to a complete halt. This way you can keep some inertia hence enhancing fuel efficiency.

Air filters

Replace your air filter when you need to, or your mix won’t be right. However don’t replace it every time the mechanics tell you to; they make money with it. Try to find out how often you need a new filter.

 Shifting Manual

A manual transmission is truly fantastic. I can only encourage everyone to try it out. No matter how “intelligent” automatic transmissions are, they aren’t as smart as you. Due to the way an automatic transmission shifts, there are higher losses associated with automatic transmissions. Overall a manual transmission can be a lot more fuel efficient. If you have a manual transmission and want to save some gas, you need to shift up early and shift down late. You need to feel the car and the load condition to figure out when you need to shift. A car that goes uphill needs to pull a lot more and should be driven at a higher RPM (or else it jumps). On the other side, if you are gliding along an empty road, you can drive at extremely low RPM (high gear). Then if you want to accelerate (you need a bit more power), you quickly shift down, get up to speed and shift up again. I always shift by feeling the car and I rarely ever look at the RPM (except for my amusement or out of boredom, or if I really want to race and need to shift before the red line).

Turn off the lights

If you don’t need to keep your lights on, always ensure you turn them on. Every electrical equipment in car is powered from the alternator which will increase its load on the engine to produce more power.

Drive less

Here comes the discussion we don’t like to read as much.

CARPOOL: If two people are riding in a car, the fuel used per person is immediately cut into half. If 4 people are sharing a ride, their individual gas bill becomes only one third.

COMBINE TRIPS: Try to combine trips. If you live outside of town, try to go into town only once and get everything you need done .

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