27 Ways to Improve Fuel Economy: Smart Tips to Save Money

February 20, 2024

Fuel efficiency makes vehicles go the extra distance with a given fuel. Fuel economy, irrespective of the vehicle size and type, plays a pivotal role in overall maintenance rate and environmental impact. But you may wonder, "How to improve fuel economy?". There are many ways to do so, which will be discussed in this article. 

how to improve fuel economy

What is fuel economy? 

Fuel economy is defined as the number of miles a car can travel consuming a certain amount of fuel. Fuel economy is measured in the standard unit of miles per gallon (MPG) in the USA. The more miles per gallon a car gets farther it can travel on a tank of fuel and, subsequently, the better the fuel economy it has. The most common way to calculate fuel economy is in liters/100 km. There is an apparent cut in fuel cost with fuel-efficient vehicles and less pollution emissions (carbon footprint). 

How to improve fuel economy 

Accelerating a car to a higher speed is the one culprit to more fuel; the faster the vehicle gets more it has to work, hence higher the fuel consumption. Accelerating and applying breaks smoothly provides better MPG. Apply the formula of 5 seconds to reach 20 km from the stop. 

how to improve diesel fuel economy

Top fuel-saving techniques 

Anything that is listed as fewer than 16 liters/100km or more than 16.5 miles/liter qualifies as fuel efficient. A detailed solution on how to improve fuel economy is as below:

Monitor Tire pressure regularly 

Tire pressure can also impact fuel economy. For instance, gas mileage can be improved by 0.6% to 3% on average by keeping the tires inflated properly. Underinflated tires drop gas mileage by 0.2% for every psi drop. Improper tire pressure can also lower the tire’s life and make it highly unsafe to drive. Find vehicle-specific tire pressure on the tire information placard usually available on the driver’s door of the vehicle. Properly inflated tires reduce rolling resistance and, hence, fuel economy.

Engage cruise control on highways 

Set cruise control speed by turning on the car and accelerating to the required cruise control speed. Cruise control minimizes driver’s foot fatigue and is destined specifically for highways with minimal distraction and less traffic. 

Anticipatory driving 

Maintaining a safe distance between vehicles and looking ahead of what other vehicles and pedestrians are up to ensures safe driving and less fuel consumption. Accelerating slowly and gently, coasting to decelerate, and avoiding high speed also increase fuel efficiency.

Maintain battery cables 

Cleaning and replacing battery cables when needed is necessary for optimum fuel consumption. Corroded cables put extra workload on alternators and hence more fuel usage. Dipping cables in a bath of baking soda and water removes corrosion. 

Weight management 

A recent study estimates a significant reduction in fuel consumption would be 0.4 L every 100 km for cars and 0.5 L every 100 km for light trucks, with every 100 kg reducing weight and consequently cutting on fuel cost. 

how to improve engine efficiency and fuel economy

Efficient gear usage 

Gear determines the amount of power available from the engine. Appropriate gear usage, like changing to a lower gear when going uphill, is a universal law for driving vehicles. Every vehicle differs in changing gears; however, the rule of thumb is that the first gear is for speeds up to 10 mph, the second for 15 mph, third for 35mph, and fourth for 55 mph. Avoiding frequent break usage and resorting to decelerating on time is another effective way to save fuel. 

Regular engine check-ups 

Vehicle check-ups every 3 months or every 3000 miles are recommended, which majorly involve car coolant, oil, fuel, air filters, spark plugs, cables, and wires. 

Limit idling time 

Idling vehicles have a great impact on fuel usage. However, there are varying factors deciding how much an idling car, like weight, engine size, and fuel type, would consume fuel. It is recommended not to idle a vehicle for more than 60 seconds except when in traffic. An average 3-liter engine consumes 300 milliliters of fuel for every 10 minutes it idles. 

Smart use of air conditioning 

Air conditioning can utilize as much as 20% of fuel consumption. Thoughtful use of an air conditioning system with the utilization of re-circulation mode closed windows at high speed (open windows cause turbulence and increase aerodynamic drag) or while driving in the city, and a flow-through ventilation system greatly impact fuel usage. 

Avoid coasting in neutral 

Driving neutral (coasting), mostly preferable by drivers, is an unsafe option for driving as well as vehicle health. As breaks still have to be applied when needed, that puts extra pressure on the brakes. Also, for a speed change, gear has to be involved still, which will also take additional time. 

Replace air filters 

To minimize the amount of debris reaching the engine, it is advisable to replace air filters every 12,000 to 15,000 miles or every year. 

how to improve fuel economy in diesel engines

Reduce aerodynamic drag 

Lowering aerodynamic drag proves to be beneficial in achieving fuel economy, less production cost, fuel efficiency, and better cooling. Cooling inlet shape and size plays a pivotal role in defining the drag coefficient of the vehicle. Minimizing or eliminating external loads like bike racks impact fuel economy as increasing weight in a vehicle compresses the suspension and decreases the drag coefficient.  Close the windows when driving at high speed; this reduces drag. Also, determining cost-effective routes improves fuel economy.

Consider hybrid/electric options 

Advancements in automobiles make it possible to gain environmentally friendly vehicles while cutting costs and achieving fuel economy. Compared to gas counterparts, the hybrid vehicle allows one to switch between gas and electric motors while driving. 

Small changes for big impact 

Small adjustments in driving, like lowering speed by 5-10 mph, can improve fuel economy by 7%. Acceleration takes more fuel, and applying cruise control on highways improves fuel economy by maintaining a constant speed. Some of the unnoticeable yet significant changes in a vehicle can improve its fuel economy, such as air filter replacement, fuel change, and spark plug replacement. 

Maximizing fuel at the pump 

You may wonder how to improve diesel fuel economy when refueling.  Filling your tank to the top is preferable as it can prevent tank condensation, which occurs when there is a temperature difference between a fuel tank and air outside. Condensation can travel fuel pipes and impact fuel efficiency. Less frequent refueling saves money on fuel too.

Battery and cable maintenance 

Car batteries run smoothly anywhere between three to five years with proper maintenance of cables, screws, connections, and clamps. Batteries must be kept clean and corrosion-free. Corroded cables strain alternators and cause more fuel consumption. The application of high-temperature grease provides extra protection. 

Utilize onboard trip computers 

Modern onboard trip computers in the latest vehicles allow it to record, calculate, and display the distance traveled.  Following the real-time fuel metric system, as in most countries, given as liter per 100 km or kilometers per liter, provides onboard fuel consumption.

how to get good fuel economy

Replace oxygen sensors 

The oxygen sensor, also called an O2 sensor, determines the air-to-fuel ratio. Whether air-to-fuel mixture is abundant or lean. Oxygen sensors communicate with the vehicle's electronic control unit to determine the best air-to-fuel ratio for efficient engine performance. Use manufacturers' guidelines for the perfect air-to-fuel ratio specific to a given vehicle. The oxygen sensor needs to be replaced when the engine light is on. 

Use the manufacturer’s recommended oil 

The right oil for the vehicle uses the viscosity grade as recommended by the original equipment manufacturer for a better engine lifespan. 

Avoid engine revving 

Fuel requires time to circulate and lubricate the car properly. Premature engine revving (also soaring or sputtering) before the vehicle gets warmed up can damage the engine and smack its efficiency.

Drive steadily and avoid tailgating 

Driving steadily and cautiously, especially at changing lanes and intersections, avoiding tailgating, and maintaining a slow, steady speed at all times with the application of the 4-second rule saves money on fuel. 

Combining errands 

Long excursions allow the engine to reach its fuel-efficient temperature; therefore, combining trips saves fuel. 

Reducing load 

Load in the vehicle puts extra pressure on fuel consumption. In an average car, every 25 kg costs 1% extra on fuel economy. 

Prefer smooth roads 

Smooth roads need less brake application, less changing gears, safe for vehicle parts, and less fuel-consuming 

Maintaining suspension parts 

Suspension system maintenance involves replacing broken springs, shock observers, and struts. 

how to get better fuel economy

Choose the correct octane gas 

Check the octane rating provided by the manufacturer of the vehicle. Gasoline vehicles mostly operate on 87 octane, while others may require higher. 

Drive smoothly and plan ahead 

Plan ahead while driving, and keep track of other vehicle’s activities. Smooth and gentle braking with light throttle allows the engine to work efficiently, minimizing wear and tear on the vehicle.  

Conclusion 

Optimizing fuel economy not only impacts vehicle fuel consumption and its overall maintenance rate but is a highly effective strategy to control carbon dioxide emissions and impact pollution. Carbon footprint is a serious concern, as cited by global climate change observers and experts, that needs immediate remedial measures to improve the environment.

Frequently Asked Questions 

How much can fuel-efficient driving habits impact savings? 

Mindful fuel consumption can save hundreds of dollars on fuel each year. 

Are there specific vehicle maintenance tasks that significantly affect fuel economy? 

Yes, vehicle maintenance tuning and fixing when it fails emissions tests surge fuel economy by 4%. 

Can route planning really make a difference in fuel consumption? 

Prior route planning is good for fuel economy. Opt for easy route mapping to maintain fuel usage and it can be a strategic way to cut operational costs. Efficient routes may involve fewer traffic areas and road conditions.

How to improve fuel economy in diesel engines? 

Slowing down vehicles can easily save a few miles per gallon. Changing oil and air filters, monitoring air exhaust, and thermostat up-gradation are the ways to improve diesel fuel economy. 

What are the best ways to increase gas mileage? 

The best way to improve gas mileage is regular maintenance of a vehicle, driving at a steady speed within the speed limit, avoiding idling, and removing extra clutter. 

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