Dubai: Despite the volatility in global oil prices, motorists can always mitigate the impact and make it easy on the pocket by improving their driving habits. They also don’t need to switch to the latest and more fuel-efficient cars, as simple daily saving tips will do the trick to help reduce fuel consumption.
Going easy on the throttle and brake pedals; driving at slower speeds; using cruise control when possible; regular engine and tyre pressure check; reducing load vehicle; and careful planning of trips are just some of the everyday fuel-saving tips shared by motoring and road safety experts.
Ensure engine health
Mitch Perera, a Sri Lankan expat and motoring expert, told Gulf News: “Checking your car constantly and doing regular maintenance is the key.” Do a full car inspection on wheels, tyres, engine, oil, filters and other parts – and the car will not only be in good condition but will also have solid fuel economy.
A properly tuned-up car engine can improve petrol mileage by an average of 4 per cent and fixing a serious maintenance problem can improve mileage by as much as 40 per cent, according to experts. At the very least, the air filter should be kept clean and replaced when necessary.
Engine oil level should also be checked. Experts recommend oil with higher viscosity (thickness) during hot summer months and lesser viscosity in winter. By using the recommended grade of motor oil, gas mileage can be improved by 1 to 2 per cent. It is also important to choose ‘energy conserving’ that contains friction-reducing additives.
Easy on the throttle
Many drivers in the UAE oftentimes feel the urge to speed, especially that roads here are wide, straight and well-paved. Being easy, however, on the throttle is not only for road safety but also for fuel economy.
Perera recommends: “On highways, maintain a constant speed between 80kms and 100kms. Anything lower or higher leads to high fuel consumption.”
The rule of thumb is – the harder the car engine works, the more petrol it’s going to take. High-speed and rapid acceleration make the engine work harder. So, ease up on the gas pedal and be gentle on the brake pad.
Regular tyre check
Make sure tyres are properly inflated, added Perrera. Tyres lose pressure over time, so make sure they’re properly inflated at least every month. Know your car’s optimal PSI rating (pounds per square inch – the unit or air pressure inside the tyre). Experts say under-inflated tyres lower gas mileage by about 0.2 per cent for every 1 PSI drop below the optimal PSI rating. The figure (0.2 per cent) seems minuscule but it adds up over time and it can also reduce tyre lifespan.
Like in life, remove excess weight from your car. “Easy on loading the vehicle, carry only what’s necessary,” noted Perrera. Studies say that for every additional 50 kilograms in a vehicle, this translates to 2 to 3 per cent increase in fuel consumption. Adding cargo means the car engine has to work harder to maintain its speed. It pays therefore to clear unnecessary items in the trunk and not store cargo to save money on fuel.
Avoid excessive idling too. Consider turning off the engine when you’re at a gas station or drive thru to save on petrol.
Another important tip is to plan the journey accordingly. Anticipate traffic conditions; avoid rush hour traffic whenever possible. Also, between highways and routes with frequent traffic lights and turns, choose the highway if the distance is comparable. And whenever possible, especially on the highway, engage cruise control to save petrol.
Road safety and sustainability
From a road safety and sustainability standpoint, Thomas Edelmann, founder and managing director of RoadSafetyUAE, has given the following tips:
• Avoid speeding and adhere to the speed limits
• Avoid revving up on short distances and heavy breaking
• Engage in defensive driving style
• Drive at constant speed and use the cruise control when possible
• Ensure engine maintenance; check tyres regularly
• Don’t run engine unnecessarily
• Drive the car that suits your needs (bigger cars and stronger engines consume more fuel and are less easy to drive)
• Do car sharing/ rotation (for daily commutes)
• Use public transportation; avoid short trips when you can use alternative ways of transport (walking is good)
• Plan well, combine your journeys to reduce the amount of driving. Aside from saving money in your pocket, you will also be reducing pollution and helping the environment.