Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Simple, routine vehicle maintenance and smart driving habits can help you save hundreds of ringgit in fuel costs a year.
SO fuel prices have gone up. Granted, it’s not that much and there is no reason to hit the panic button, but you’re definitely going to feel the pinch, even if it’s a small one.
There are steps that you as a driver can take to help mitigate this. Simple, routine vehicle maintenance and smart driving habits can help you save hundreds of ringgit in fuel costs a year.
Don’t drive aggressively
According to a study by Natural Resources Canada, frequent “jackrabbit” starts (that is, fast acceleration of a motor vehicle from a stationary position) and hard braking can increase fuel consumption by almost 40% and only reduces travel time by a mere 4%.
“The ideal way is to accelerate slowly and smoothly and then get into high gear as quickly as possible,” says Simon Lam of Used Autos Sdn Bhd, a Kuala Lumpur-based used-car dealer.
According to Lam, in normal city driving, about 50% of the energy needed to power a car, is used during vehicle acceleration. “If you notice you’re slamming on the brakes hard and often, then it’s a sign that you’re wasting fuel unnecessarily,” says Lam.
According to eartheasy.com, increasing your highway cruising speed from 90 kmh to 120 kmh can increase fuel consumption by as much as 20%. One can improve gas mileage by 10% to 15% by driving at around 90 kmh.
Alternatively, you can opt for cruise control if your car has it, says Lam. “This is especially good for long trips. Not only will it reduce your urge to speed, you’ll also feel less tired after the journey.”
Keep tyres properly inflated
Under-inflated tyres create added rolling resistance and can increase fuel consumption by as much as 6%, says Klang Valley-based tyre agent Vincent Pang.
“Check your tyre pressure regularly and make sure to inflate them as recommended by the manufacturer. It’s not difficult to do and doesn’t cost you anything. Looking after your tyres not only helps you to reduce fuel consumption, it promotes better vehicle handling and tyre life,” he adds.
But, apart from taking care of your tyres, keeping your entire car in good working condition also ensures that it is running at optimum levels and peak efficiency.
Use air-cond sparingly
Okay, we all know how unkind the Malaysian heat can be, but a two-minute trip to the mamak stall or post office without air-conditioning won’t kill you.
According to eartheasy.com, using a vehicle’s air-conditioner on a hot day can increase fuel consumption by as much as 10% in city driving.
At low speeds, opening the window helps to save fuel consumption by reducing air-condition usage.
However, at high speeds, driving with the air-cond on is more fuel-efficient than the wind resistance caused by having the windows and sunroof open, it says.
The more weight you carry, the more fuel you use, says Kuala Lumpur-based mechanical engineer Peter Lau. “Your car is a means for transportation, not a mobile storage facility. Keep heavy items like tools, sports equipment or other items at home when you don’t need them,” he advises.
Lau adds that vehicle add-ons, such as roof racks or even spoilers, can add to wind-drag and reduce fuel efficiency.
“Remove items such as roof and bike racks when not in use. If you have to use them, load them in such a way that any sort of drag or resistance can be minimised while driving.”