Dubai: Despite rising global oil prices, motorists can still lessen the impact and make life easier by improving their driving habits. They also don’t need to upgrade to the newest, most fuel-efficient cars, because simple everyday fuel-saving tips will do the trick to help reduce fuel consumption.
Go slowly on the accelerator and brake pedals; drive at slower speeds; use cruise control when possible; regular check of engine and tire pressure; vehicle with reduced load; and careful trip planning are just some of the everyday fuel-saving tips shared by automotive and road safety experts.
Ensure engine health
Mitch Perera, a Sri Lankan expat and automotive expert, told Gulf News: “Constantly checking your car and doing regular maintenance is key.” Do a full inspection of the car on wheels, tires, engine, oil, filters and other parts – and the car will not only be in good condition, but also have solid fuel economy.
A properly tuned car engine can improve gas mileage by an average of 4%, and fixing a serious maintenance problem can improve gas mileage by up to 40%, experts say. At the very least, the air filter should be kept clean and replaced if necessary.
The engine oil level should also be checked. Experts recommend an oil with a higher viscosity (thickness) in the hot summer months and lower viscosity in the winter. By using the recommended grade of engine oil, gas mileage can be improved by 1-2%. It is also important to choose “energy preservers” that contain friction-reducing additives.
Easy on the throttle
Many drivers in the United Arab Emirates often feel the need to speed up, especially since the roads here are wide, straight and well-paved. However, being easy on the throttle is not just for road safety, but also for fuel economy.
Perera recommends: “On highways, maintain a constant speed between 80 km and 100 km. Anything lower or higher results in high fuel consumption.
The general rule is: the harder the car’s engine works, the more gas it will consume. High speed and rapid acceleration make the engine work harder. So release the accelerator pedal and be gentle with the brake pad.
Regular tire checks
Make sure the tires are properly inflated, Perrera added. Tires lose pressure over time, so make sure they’re properly inflated at least monthly. Know your car’s optimal PSI rating (pounds per square inch – the unit or air pressure inside the tire). Experts say that under-inflated tires reduce gas mileage by about 0.2% for every 1 PSI that drops below the optimal PSI rating. The number (0.2%) seems tiny, but it adds up over time and can also reduce tire life.
As in life, remove excess weight from your car. “Easy to load the vehicle, carry only what is needed,” Perrera noted. Studies indicate that for every additional 50 kilograms in a vehicle, this translates to a 2-3% increase in fuel consumption. Adding cargo means the car’s engine has to work harder to maintain its speed. So it pays to clean unnecessary items in the trunk and not store goods to save money on fuel.
Also avoid excessive idling. Consider turning off the engine when at a gas station or driving to save gas.
Another important tip is to plan the trip accordingly. Anticipate traffic conditions; Avoid rush hour traffic jams as much as possible. Also, between freeways and roads with traffic lights and frequent turns, choose the freeway if the distance is comparable. And whenever possible, especially on the highway, engage cruise control to save gas.
Road safety and sustainability
From a road safety and sustainability perspective, Thomas Edelmann, Founder and Managing Director of RoadSafetyUAE, offered the following advice:
• Avoid speeding and obey speed limits
• Avoid short-distance revving and heavy braking
• Adopt a defensive driving style
• Drive at a constant speed and use cruise control when possible
• Provide engine maintenance; check tires regularly
• Do not run the engine unnecessarily
• Drive the car that suits your needs (bigger cars and more powerful engines consume more fuel and are less easy to drive)
• Carpool/rotate (for daily trips)
• Use public transport; avoid short journeys when you can use alternative means of transport (walking is fine)
• Plan well, combine your trips to reduce driving time. Besides saving money in your pocket, you will also reduce pollution and help the environment.