As gas and diesel prices climb, many Canadians are looking for creative ways to improve their fuel economy. The good news is you don’t have to trade in your car for a more efficient version just yet. Short of buying a new vehicle, or turning to electric, there are habits you can implement right now to start reducing your fuel consumption with noticeable results.
This is a big one, but not simply because exceeding the speed limit is dangerous. According to Driving.ca, at 120 km/h, the aerodynamic drag on your car burns at least 20% more fuel than it would at 100 km/h. While the optimal speed for every vehicle varies, typically fuel efficiency starts declining rapidly once a vehicle exceeds 80 km/h. This doesn’t mean you should start avoiding the highway, however (but we’ll get to that in a moment).
The takeaway? Drive the speed limit but don’t waste fuel or endanger yourself and others by exceeding it.
Keep your tires properly inflated
This is another safety measure that also happens to improve fuel economy. According to FuelEconomy.gov, properly inflated tires can improve gas mileage by 0.6% on average and up to 3% in some cases. We recommend checking your tire pressure once a month; you can find the correct pressure for your vehicle listed in PSI (pounds per square inch) in your car manual and on a sticker inside the driver’s door.
For instructions on checking your tire pressure, visit our blog on Performing Basic Vehicle Maintenance.
Lighten your load
While it might seem insignificant, reducing the extra weight in your vehicle is actually an effective way to reduce fuel consumption. For every 45 kg of weight in your vehicle, your fuel economy is docked 1% to 2%.
According to Driving.ca, 25 kg of extra mass increases the fuel consumption of a mid-size car by about 1%.
Improve your vehicle’s aerodynamics
Open bed pickup trucks trap wind, causing drag and reducing fuel efficiency. If you drive a pickup, install a truck cap or tonneau cover to reverse the effect. Similarly, driving with a rooftop cargo carrier increases wind resistance between 2% and 8% in cities and 6% to 17% on highways. Remove your cargo carrier when it’s not in use to improve your aerodynamics and fuel efficiency.
Using the air conditioner burns through additional fuel, but driving with your windows down creates air resistance. So what’s a driver to do? On a hot day, use your AC on the highway, but roll down the windows when you’re driving in town.
Be smart about accelerating
Constantly braking and accelerating is a good way to guzzle gas. Even varying speed on the highway can have noticeable effects on your mileage. According to CAA, fluctuating between 75 km/h and 85 km/h every 18 seconds can lead to a 20% increase in fuel consumption.
Although it might seem intuitive that a slow acceleration from a stop is the most fuel-conscious option, in fact, the longer it takes to reach your cruising speed, the more energy your car demands. Always accelerate smoothly and keep in mind that 20 km/h every 5 seconds is the ideal rate of acceleration.
Optimize your mechanics
Install a vacuum gauge
If you’re serious about saving on gas, a vacuum gauge is a low-cost way to measure the effects of your driving habits on your fuel consumption. The dial sits on your dashboard and attaches to the manifold with a tube. Driving so the vacuum gauge remains at a constant pressure will have marked effects on your fuel efficiency.
Replace your air filter, oxygen sensors and spark plugs
Deterioration of these parts will take a toll on your gas mileage — both air filters and old oxygen sensors can reduce your mileage by close to 20%!
On that note, making sure your vehicle is well maintained and brought in for regular servicing is key to keeping it running at peak efficiency. According to CAA, a poorly maintained car can burn up to 25% more fuel. For more tricks to save money on your vehicle, visit this blog.