With fuel prices remaining high, the more fuel efficient our car is, the happier we are these days — and fuel efficiency is definitely a big factor to consider when buying a new car.
But what about our old car? Without shelling out for a new, more fuel efficient car, here are some ways we can increase our fuel efficiency and help out both our wallets and the environment.
The most obvious tip is to avoid unnecessary driving. If we can walk or take public transit, we should. If we do drive, we should try to organize our trips to get the most out of every trip to town, mall — wherever. Cars do not run efficiently until they warm up, so multiple short trips are more fuel intensive than one longer trip. In order to never have to drive an inefficiently running car, we can invest in a block heater and turn it on one to two hours before we are due to leave (or use a timer). This saves fuel. For greater running efficiency we should also keep up to date with tuneups, oil changes and make sure the tires are properly inflated. Roof racks and ski racks that add to the car’s drag should be removed when not in use.
The way we drive can also greatly impact fuel consumption. Accelerating uses more fuel than maintaining a constant speed, so drivers who speed up and slow down a lot use more fuel than those who don’t. You know this type of driver, the kind that accelerates out of a red light only to slam on the brakes at the next light a few hundred metres away. If this is you, ease up on the lead foot — you are burning excess fuel plus you are making your passengers car sick! On an uncrowded highway, cruise control is a good way to maintain a constant speed and get the most distance out of a tank of fuel.
Another way to maximize your fuel is to avoid idling. Idling gets us zero kilometres per litre of fuel. Other than in traffic we should turn off the car if we are going to be stopped for more than 10 seconds.
The best way to warm up a cold car is to drive it, so we should absolutely not turn our car on 10 minutes before we are due to leave on cold day so we can get into a warm car. This wastes energy. A big culprit is a remote starter, which means we can point our key chain out the window while still in our pyjamas and start warming up the car. This needs to stop! We need to button our coats, put on hats and gloves and tough it out in a cold car for the time it takes to start getting heat out of the heater!
The best thing we can do for the environment is not drive at all, but in order to get done what we need to get done, that is not always an option.
So, if we have to drive, let’s keep these tips in mind and try to minimize the impact of our driving.