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Car Mileage Tips : How to Increase Fuel Mileage on a Car

With fuel prices on the rise daily, here are seven tips to make sure you get the best fuel economy out of your car, be it a petrol or a diesel engine.

With fuel prices at a record high and showing no signs of reducing anytime soon, the hot topic of discussion is fuel economy. And while some people are actually considering moving to a smaller car that has better fuel mileage, fuel economy actually depends on a lot more than engine size and car size. As the saying goes, it is now what you drive, it is how you drive it. While there are several products on the internet including some gadgets and gizmos that claim to improve your fuel mileage or fuel economy, most of these are usually a scam. What really helps is how you drive your petrol and diesel car to make sure that ever growing petrol price and diesel price isnt too heavy on your pocket.
Car Mileage Tips : How to Increase Fuel Mileage on a Car
Car Mileage Tips : How to Increase Fuel Mileage on a Car

Car Mileage Tips : How to Increase Fuel Mileage on a Car

1. Service your car!

While you might think doing that one free service a year when you get a phone call from your authorised service centre is enough, it actually isn't. You car is a machine and like every machine, it needs constant upkeep. We aren't asking you to check your car every morning like it is the 1960s, but checking oil levels and coolant levels once every two weeks can actually have a big difference on your car. Oil levels are crucial and so is using the correct grade of oil that has been recommended by the manufacturer.

Another very important part of service are filters. Air filters, fuel filters and oil filters make a big difference in ensuring the engine runs at peak mechanical efficiency and that in turn ensures good fuel mileage. It also helps to make sure your spark plugs are clean and without a layer of soot on them.

2. Maintain the correct air pressure

The manufacturer recommended air pressure is crucial - not only for a comfortable ride and correct handling but also for ensuring fuel mileage. An under inflated tyre leads to friction and that leads to kinetic energy being lost. Another trick is to actually increase the air pressure in your tyre by a few PSI. That makes the side walls firmer and reduces the contact patch of the tyre but at the same time it can lead to blowouts (if over inflated) and lower grip as compared to correct pressures. And while it is known to work, we personally would not recommend it.

3. Drive in the correct gear

You are not Vin Diesel. You are not chasing an Antonov AN 225 down a runway with baddies shooting at you. And thus you don't need to change gear every 3 seconds. Being in the right gear at the right RPM helps the most. Especially if you are in a high traffic area. Another mistake people regularly make is to rev the engine all the way to its redline before changing gear. And while that might be great if you don't give two hoots about your fuel economy, it makes a HUGE difference if you do.

Always remember, shift up as quickly as you can and only shift down when you need to to get the best fuel mileage. Also, sometimes, especially while coming down slopes, it is actually better to leave the car in a higher gear and not shift it to neutral. Remember, neutral means that the RPM of the car is at idle and therefore controlled by the ECU. Alternatively, being in a higher gear makes sure that RPMs depend on engine speed and considering the fact that the throttle is closed off as much as the ECU would allow, fuel economy is actually higher. That said, NEVER TURN YOUR CAR OFF WHILE DRIVING DOWNHILL as although it can give you the best fuel economy, it could also result in accidents due to power steering and power brakes not working to their optimal levels.

4. Don't carry unnecessary weight

Weight is the worst enemy when it comes to fuel mileage. And while you cant ask your passengers to get off just because you want 1kmpl more, you can get rid of anything unnecessary from your car to save weight. This of course does not mean that you should get rid of your spare wheel or tools, but always remember to clean our your boot of anything unnecessary while you travel. And while an extra spare wheel is great when you travel, it is not necessarily needed while in the city.

5. Keep those windows up!

While it might not seem so, aerodynamics play a HUGE part in improving fuel economy. Windows rolled up means that the car's body is as slippery when coming in contact with the air that it can possibly be. This means that the air flow around your car will be at its best and you don't need that little extra power to make your air cut through the air. Of course, in a country like India, it is always best to have your windows up and your air conditioning on in order to sacrifice a little fuel economy for the sake of your health.

6. Park in a shaded area

While most lists will ask you not to use your air conditioning, we know it is an essentially need rather than a luxury if you intend to drive in India. In summer, with temperatures peaking at almost 50 degrees outside, the car's interiors are usually even hotter and can take quite a while to cool down to a bearable level. This means that your AC has to work overtime at full blast, in turn sapping power from the engine. So just park under a shade. You will have a cooler car to come back to and your wallet will thank you too.

7. Avoid long idles

Avoid situations where the car is idling for over a minute. While normally a starting procedure takes more fuel, it is less than having your car idle for over a minute. IF you have a car with start-stop technology, use it. This will help especially if you in a situation where traffic rolls for a few metres and then comes to a stand still repeatedly.

8. Keep your engine in a good health

Does your car need servicing? Does it clear all the emission tests? Well, servicing your engine at the manufacturer-specified intervals and paying attention to its health is a good way to make sure that the mileage it delivers is the peak mileage.

9. Use correct grade of engine oil

Using the correct grade of engine oil is as important as getting your car serviced timely. The viscosity or the type of engine oil has a direct relation with mileage that the engine delivers.

The correct grade of engine oil for your car can be found in the owner’s manual. We strongly recommend you to stick to it. Tests show that using a non-specified grade or type of engine oil can affect the fuel efficiency adversely by over 20 percent.

10. Avoid over-usage of the clutch

 Now, we aren’t asking you to shift gears without using the clutch pedal. What we mean is that one should never drive with the feel placed on the clutch except when he needs to engage it. This will help you save some fuel from getting wasted.

11. Take your time to pace up and pace down 

Avoid over-revving to keep the mileage from dropping. Accelerating too hard consumes a lot of fuel. Hence, we urge you to accelerate slowly and gradually. This will save you a sufficient amount of fuel in traffic.

12. Give those gears a smooth shift

Changing gears appropriately is also very important to ensure a high mileage. This is applicable to both manual and automatic transmission cars. Hard acceleration in automatic cars revs the engine to higher speeds in every gear. This has an adverse effect on the fuel efficiency.

13. Try to keep a constant speed

 One should try to maintain a constant speed for as long as possible. Repeated acceleration and deceleration causes unnecessary burning of fuel. Hence, maintaining a constant speed actually helps you conserve some fuel.

14. Keep your car  light, shed off the extra kilos

Driving with any unnecessary luggage increases the weight your car needs to carry around. Hence, it’s recommended to carry only the essentials. Even small, light objects have a considerable collective weight. Hence, keep your car light to burn less fuel.

15. Turn off at the lights

As a general rule, turn off your car if you're stopping for longer than 30 seconds. Don't turn it off otherwise because the car will require more fuel to start again. Since this is something we Indians already do well, we won't dwell on this point.

16. Turn off the AC when you can

We are aware that conditions in our country don't allow us the freedom to keep the windows open any longer - pollution and higher temperatures mean that nowadays the air-con is constantly on. But the AC does consume a lot of power and fuel to run, so try turning it off when the weather is bearable. Also, if the air con system in your car comes with climate control, you can turn it off ‘Auto' mode and keep it in a low blower mode to use less fuel, since the AC won't have to kick in as many times to maintain the specified interior temperature. But keep the AC on and the windows up on the highway where speeds are higher, since you can actually save gas because of reduced aerodynamic drag.

17. Keep your car regularly serviced 

Make no mistake, a car that's been lousily maintained will not give you good fuel economy figures. Make sure you regularly service your car - get the air filter, fuel filter and spark plugs checked habitually. In addition, have the car's oxygen sensor checked every 60,000 km or so, since a faulty sensor could drop your car's mileage by almost 20 percent. The oxygen sensor, a part of the emissions control system, helps the engine run as efficiently as possible by determining if the fuel mixture is lean or rich, and accordingly adjusting the amount of fuel entering the engine.

18. Keep the car light 

The heavier a car is, the more fuel it uses. So rid your car of any accumulated junk or unnecessary luggage. Apart from saving gas, your car would become become a much nicer place to be in.

19. Cold fuel and closed caps 

Since fuel is denser when cold, it is worth it to wake up early and fill in gas. The pump measures fuel by volume, so you actually get more fuel for your money. During the hot season, fill up early mornings if possible. But remember to always check the fuel cap whenever you tank up, because evaporating fuel is obviously not going to be kind to your car's mileage.

20. Plan trips in advance 

How many times do you set out with the Missus for weekly grocery shopping and end up doing circles? Try keeping stops to a minimum, and combine jobs to do at places like malls, etc. which allow you to finish various kinds of errands in one place. Apart from keeping tempers cool, mapping out your route on GPS will help you avoid traffic jams, and most importantly, save you significant amounts of fuel.

21. Use recommended fuels and lubricants 

While oil companies might claim better power, mileage and efficiency from their ‘special' fuels, switching your car to higher octane fuel, for example, will not make a difference to your fuel economy because your car engine may not have been designed to run on it. So instead of saving money, your fuel costs actually increase, because of the generally higher prices of these fuel variants. Also, only use the manufacturer-recommended engine oil and your car will perform efficiently.

22. Drive your automatic car in manual mode if possible 

Most auto ‘boxes are designed not to upshift before a particular speed. The upside of this is that it generates sufficient torque for the shift, and optimises fuel economy of the upshift as well. However, an automatic gearbox is generally not able to differentiate situations where less torque is required and as a result, often holds the engine in a lower gear than necessary, thereby consuming more fuel. Thus, if your gearbox has a manual option, switch to manual mode and make the gear changes yourself to improve mileage.

23. Follow large vehicles 

If you're not in a hurry to get to your destination, try this out. Following large vehicles can actually be a very stress-free way to drive, since they generally make smoother lane changes and can usually gauge the quickest route (for them) through traffic or out on the highway. Slipstreaming a truck or bus from a safe distance will help you save fuel since the strain on your car engine is much less, but we understand it's not always possible.

24. Get ready to drive before you start 

If you notice, we generally tend to start the car and only then do the mandatories - slip on sunglasses, fasten seatbelt, lock doors, adjust mirrors, etc. If we get these things out of the way first, one or two minutes of idling fuel can be saved every day.

25. Reverse park at home 

When you get home after work every day, make the effort to reverse park your car into your garage. This of course applies to only those with a flat, easy-to-access driveway. You can save precious fuel every day, since you would not have to spend time reversing and manoeuvering when the engine is cold.

26. Fender ender

We trust that you found these tips useful, and hope that it saves you money as well. It's heartening to know that these tips can be easily followed, but still produce significant results, especially in the long run. If you feel we've omitted a trick or two that you may have learned from your driving experience, or if you did indeed find this information useful, do write in and let us know. Here's to saving precious bucks!

27. Tune up the engine. 

A properly tuned engine maximizes power and can greatly enhance fuel efficiency. Beware, though, that many tuners will disable efficiency measures when tuning for power. Be sure you are keeping good spark plugs in the engine, changing the oil on time, making sure the air filter is clean, etc.

28. Check the condition of your engine air filter. 

A dirty filter will reduce fuel economy, or make the engine stall when idling. Just like mowing dusty grass, driving dusty dirt roads will clog the air filter: avoid dust clouds.

29. Replace the fuel filter according to the car manufacturer's recommended schedule. 

This will go a long way to enhancing fuel efficiency.

30. Lighten your load.
Get the lightest car that will serve your needs. Weight is one of the biggest causes for loss of kinetic energy in non-hybrid cars. If you're not shopping for cars, then take any extra weight off of the one you're already driving. If seats that you don't use can be removed, take them out. If you use your trunk as a storage space for heavy things, find another place for them. An extra 100 pounds increases fuel consumption by 1–2%. (Weight is most important in stop-and-go driving. In almost exclusively highway driving, it matters little: once the car is up to speed, it need only push air out of the way.) Don't remove things from the car that you need frequently; instead, make sure these are in the car and readily accessible because wasted trips to retrieve or replace them will be much worse than a little lower mileage.

30. Select the narrowest possible tires for your vehicle that will satisfy your driving style and demands.
Narrow tires have less frontal area, thus reducing aerodynamic drag. Remember, however, that narrow tires have less traction as well (which is why race cars have such wide tires). Do not get a tire that is incompatible with your wheels (use the size tires that came stock on the vehicle), and do not get smaller wheels unless your manufacturer approves.

31. Select low-rolling-resistance compound tires. 
These can increase fuel economy by a few percent. However, the difference is not startling or a substitute for proper inflation. It would be wasteful to replace the former tires with these before they are worn out.

32. Make sure the oxygen sensors, engine emissions system, and evaporative emissions control systems are in good shape on fuel-injected cars. 
Often the "check engine light" coming on is an indication that there is a problem with one of these components. A damaged oxygen sensor may cause your car to have too rich of a fuel mixture, decreasing your fuel mileage by 20% or more.

33. When you fill up with gas, fill up halfway and try to keep your tank above one quarter full.

If your fuel runs low,you could put stress on the fuel pump. However, 10 gallons (37.9 L) of gas adds 60 pounds of weight. A half-full tank may increase your mileage.

24. Add a synthetic oil additive to either natural or synthetic oil when getting your oil changed. 

This can increase your gas mileage by up to 15% if you follow the manufacturer's instructions and recommended usage. Be aware that the usefulness of this is questionable: it may be unlikely that synthetic-oil "additive" would cause a car to work much less hard; it would not make the oil overall much less viscous, and circulating the oil is only a relatively small task for a car engine.

25. Buy quality fuel. 

No two fuels are the same, and while "discount" brand fuel may save you a few cents per L or Gal, it can contain a higher percentage of ethanol, which burns at a faster rate. Compare the mileage between fuel companies and see what is best for your car.

26. Try to avoid using the air conditioner in stop-and-go city driving as it causes the engine to work hard and consume more fuel. 

However, studies show that at highway speeds cars get somewhat better mileage with the AC on and the windows rolled up. The drag caused by rolled down windows at high speed reduces fuel efficiency more than the AC.

27. Use cruise control. 

In most situations, using your cruise control reduces fuel consumption by maintaining a constant speed.

28. Slow down. 

The faster you move, the harder your engine has to work to push through the air. Speeding can reduce fuel efficiency by up to 33%. (Factors other than air resistance decrease fuel economy below about 60 mph (97 km/h), so fuel economy is not a reason to go slower, but fuel economy decreases rapidly above that speed).

30. Accelerate smoothly with moderate throttle. 

Engines are most efficient with moderately high air flow (throttle) and at revolutions per minute (RPM)s up to their power peak (for small to mid sized engines this is generally somewhere between 4k to 5k RPM). In a manual transmission car, practice 'short shifting', or shifting to higher gears as soon as you reach your desired speed by skipping intermediate gears. For example, accelerate to 40 mph (64 km/h) using 1st gear and 2nd gear, then shift directly to 4th (skipping 3rd), or if your engine can maintain your speed, to 5th. (Be aware that if you have to floor the accelerator pedal in 5th to maintain your speed, you should be in 4th!)

31 Avoid braking wherever possible. 

Braking wastes energy from fuel that you have already burned, and accelerating after braking consumes more fuel than driving at a constant speed. On city streets watch ahead and coast when you see a red light or traffic jam ahead.

32. Find your car's "sweet speed". 

Some cars get better mileage at specific speeds, usually 50 mph (80 km/h). Your car's "sweet speed" is the minimum speed at which the car is running in its highest gear (watch for rpm drops as you accelerate to determine when your transmission is shifting into higher gears). For example, most Jeep Cherokees are best at 55 mph (89 km/h), and Toyota 4Runners are best at about 50 mph (80 km/h). Find your vehicle's "sweet speed" and pick your roads accordingly.

33. Make sure you enable overdrive if your car has an automatic transmission with overdrive, except when towing very heavy trailers. 

Overdrive is by default enabled on the "D" on most shifters. Several cars have buttons on the shifter which allow you to turn off the overdrive gear. Don't turn it off except in specific circumstances it may be needed such as for engine braking downhill or failure to proceed uphill smoothly in overdrive. Overdrive saves you gas mileage at higher speeds by using a higher gear in the transmission. For example, for every ¾ of a turn of the engine going into the transmission, the output of the trans is one.

33. on't circle in a parking lot, and keep well away from the store fronts. 

Look for a spot in the empty half of the parking lot. Many people spend significant time idling and creeping, waiting for a "close spot" to open up.

34. Maintain a safe following distance. 

Don't stick to the bumper of the car directly in front of you. You will brake more and accelerate more to keep that unnecessary and dangerously narrow gap. Relax. Hang back a bit. This also gives you a lot more room to play with when you are timing lights. When the driver ahead of you slams on his brakes, you can coast down and see if the light quick-changes green again (some do). You might even coast by his car as the light turns green and he has to accelerate from a dead stop.

35. Avoid turning across oncoming traffic. 

If your route will allow it, try to make as few left turns as possible on the way to your destination (or right turns in countries with left-hand traffic). Stopping and waiting at an intersection to make a turn across the oncoming lane lets the engine run idle, which wastes gas, as does accelerating once again to make the turn.

36. Maintain a log over time of how many miles you go (the main odometer) and how much gas you put in (from the gas pump, including fractions). 

Put it in a spreadsheet. It will keep you focused, and other methods are inaccurate; you will never know for sure if you're saving fuel, wasting fuel or just seeing errors from gas pumps that stop pumping at different points, or fractions of miles being dropped off your 'trip' odometer when you reset it.

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