How Your Driving Style Affects Fuel Consumption
Your driving style affects your safety and those who share the road with you, as well as influence the wear and tear on your vehicle. It also impacts your fuel consumption.
While fuel economy is mainly affected by the type of vehicle your drive, everything you do behind the wheels—acceleration, shifting, towing, idling, and braking—has an impact on your fuel mileage.
The harder you accelerate the more fuel you use.
Stepping on the accelerator (a.k.a. gas pedal) speeds up your driving because more gas is fed into the engine. As you step on the gas pedal, the throttle valve opens up more to let more air in. The ECU then increases the fuel rate in anticipation of more air entering the engine.
If you want to use less fuel, especially while driving around the city, step on your accelerator steadily. Instead of stomping on the pedal, gradually speed up and drive at a smooth and even pace. Take five seconds to accelerate your vehicle from 0 to 15 km/h for the best efficiency.
The faster you drive, the more aerodynamic drag is applied to your vehicle and the more fuel you burn.
Studies have shown that varying your speed up and down between 75 and 85 km per hour every 18 seconds can increase your fuel use by 20%.
To improve your fuel economy, always observe your vehicle’s speed limit. The EPA estimates that observing the speed limit can improve fuel economy anywhere from 7% to 23%.
While cars have different thresholds, most become less efficient at speeds over 100 kilometers per hour. Driving your vehicle at 120 km per hour can consume about 20% more fuel than at 100 km per hour. Most city cars, SUVs, and utes are also fuel-efficient when driven between 50 and 80 kilometers per hour.
- If the weather is good and the road is clear, use your car’s cruise control for highway driving if you have it. This will help you maintain a steady speed and optimize your fuel efficiency.
- Do little variations in speed when the situation and traffic patterns permit. When going uphill, for instance, drop your speed then slowly regain your momentum as you roll downhill.
- When driving around the city, anticipate the traffic as much as you can. Keep a comfortable distance between your car and the others on the road. Stay alert and observe how the pedestrians and other cars around you are moving so you can keep your speed as steady as possible and use less fuel.
The more you idle your vehicle, the lower your MPG will be.
Leaving your car's engine running while it is stationary gets you nowhere but wastes your fuel and produces unneccesaary greenhouse gases. Ten seconds of idling burns enough fuel to turn off and restart a vehicle. The bigger your car’s engine, the more fuel is also wasted.
Aside from fuel consumption, frequent idling can also damage your car’s engine and battery. While idling, the engine does not reach the temperatures necessary to fully combust fuel, which gets clogged up and causes the engine to stall.
To reduce idling:
- Avoid drive-thrus and heavy traffic whenever you can.
- Turn off your car’s engine when you need to park or stop for 10 seconds.
- Do not use a remote vehicle starter, which creates unnecessary idling.
- Consider driving a hybrid electric vehicle.
- Don’t idle a cold engine for more than 30 seconds before driving away, especially during winter when vehicles may need more time to warm up. The latest vehicle models are not built with carburetors and no longer need to be idled to warm up before driving. Today, most cars run on modern fuel-injection technology, complex computer systems, and thinner synthetic oils.
The more short trips you take, the higher your fuel consumption.
You use a significant amount of gas when starting the engine, which means that you’re wasting a lot of fuel if you frequently do this in one day. Also, your vehicle is more fuel efficient if it’s warmed up to its most fuel-efficient temperature. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a long trip.
As much as possible:
- Plan your trips to reduce the amount of time you drive with a cold engine.
- If you need to do a lot of errands, do them in one run where your vehicle’s engine stays warm.
- Organise your route to avoid backtracking and passing through areas with heavy traffic.
The heavier your vehicle, the more fuel it uses.
Always know your car’s load limit. This is the amount of combined weight that it can safely carry without putting undue strain on the engine and transmission. Going beyond this limit can lead to damage on vital components like the clutch and brake pedals and wastes fuel, particularly during acceleration when more power is needed.
A midsize vehicle increases fuel consumption by about 1% for every 25 kilograms of weight it carries. Meanwhile, there’s about a 2% decrease in the amount of fuel used for every 100 pounds removed from your car. The amount of weight that needs to be removed is relative to the vehicle’s total weight.
To lower your fuel consumption and emissions, lighten your load before driving.
- Remove unnecessary weight, like salt and sand.
- Also remove sports equipment and roof racks if not needed, as they create wind drag.
- Always plan ahead and bring only the stuff you need on your trip.
- Never overload your vehicle.
- Distribute any extra weight you do carry evenly across the car.
The harsher you brake, the more fuel you consume.
You waste your forward momentum every time you use your brakes. When you brake hard, your car's transmission automatically or manually downshifts into lowest gears to regain the lost momentum. Lower gears require faster engine revolutions which in turn demand more fuel.
To avoid braking harshly, always be mindful of the traffic flow so you can anticipate the right time to slow down. Instead of using your brakes and coming to a complete halt, take your foot off the accelerator and coast forward to slow down. This will help you conserve fuel.
- If you need to stop at a traffic light, for instance, it’s smarter to lift off the throttle 20 meters away and slow down more gently than maintaining your speed with the accelerator until you are 10 meters away and then brake hard. This will save you 10-meter worth of fuel, which is a lot if you have to stop at the same traffic light every day.
The key to economical driving is maintaining your momentum as efficiently as possible.
Proper vehicle maintenance helps you avoid issues that cause poor fuel economy.
Aside from changing your driving habits, regularly cleaning and fixing any car issues can help you reduce fuel consumption.
Driving a vehicle with tyres that are under-inflated by 56 kilopascals can increase fuel consumption by up to 4% and can also reduce the life of your tyres by more than 10,000 kilometres.
If you can’t buy a set of fuel-efficient tyres for your car, at least maintain the right tyre pressure. Refer to your tyre information placard, which is usually found on the edge of the driver’s door or doorpost.
Other issues that can lead to more waste fuel include:
- Faulty engine
- Poor engine oil
- Poor quality fuel
- Clogged air filter
- Worn out clutch
- Wrong gears
The best way to reduce fuel consumption is to drive less.
While a car provides convenience, comfort, and flexibility for getting around different areas on your own schedule, you can reduce fuel consumption and gas emission if you:
- Bike to your destination or walk if you can.
- Ride the public transit.
- Join a car pool.
You may not have control over the cost of fuel but you can effectively manage your fuel consumption. Good driving habits and regular car maintenance can go a long way in reducing your fuel economy.
Why ride along when you can drive your own car? Get a car loan now! Call us on 1300 722 210 or apply for a Loan Pre-Approval.