A number of drivers consider economical driving a priority. It is easy to find tips intended to help you save money; sadly, at least half of them are wrong. You may believe you’re saving while in fact driving in a way that will make your car consume more fuel than usual.
Economical driving – the myths
Myth 1: Premium fuel is consumed more slowly
Fuel companies spend hours trying to come up with a name for their premium fuel that will sound attractive enough. At the same time, though, they can’t guarantee that using the 98 fuel or a higher class diesel will make your car more powerful or cheaper to drive. You can only be sure you’ll have less of money. Premium class fuel is usually some 30 gr more expensive than the rest. With a 60-litre tank, this can make you spend up to 20 PLN more.
If you want to use premium fuel, find out what the manufacturer of your car is recommending. If they are suggesting higher quality fuel, then you should go for it. If they don’t (you can find such recommendations in the manual), you will be better off sticking to the regular fuel.
Myth 2: Automatic transmission makes it impossible to drive economically
Even if automatic transmission did mean higher consumption, the technology is constantly developing. Older automatic vehicles may have been more fuel consuming but the new ones are becoming cheaper and cheaper; soon there won’t be any difference you’d need to worry about.
Myth 3: Smaller engine = bigger savings
This myth is based on the idea of downsizing which is very popular among the automotive specialists. In short, downsizing means reducing the engine capacity in order to provide lower consumption while providing additional solutions (such as modern injection systems or turbo charging) to compensate for the resulting loss of power. Theoretically speaking, such engines should consume less fuel. You should remember this, though: not every experiment with downsizing was successful. Some units were not providing the expected performance and while they did allow some savings indeed, they proved much more costly when the engine broke and you needed to invest in repairs (which happened much faster than with right sized engines).
Myth 4: Idling decreases fuel consumption
Contrary to the popular belief, idling is fuel consuming. When the engine is idle, it’s got a constant supply of fuel. When you change a gear but don’t speed up, the fuel supply is cut off. This is the reason why you can save money by using the engine to reduce speed when you can see the red light ahead of you instead of approaching the lights while idling.
Myth 5: Accelerate more slowly to save fuel
When driving, you should make sure you accelerate as quickly as possible. Be careful to do it smoothly, though: don’t push the pedal in the floor or take too long to use it. It is best to press the pedal strong enough for it to reach half the way to the floor.
Myth 6: Economical driving is keeping low engine speed
This simply isn’t true. Economical driving means keeping the optimum engine speed. This doesn’t mean it has to be low. Most petrol engines operate between 2,000 and 3,000 rpm; for diesel engines, it is 1,500 to 2,000 rpm. With diesel engines, the differences are greater than in petrol engines so you will be better off simply reading the manual of your car. It will tell you what range is best for your car.
Myth 7: The slower, the cheaper
Fortunately, this is wrong, too. Consumption is indeed related to driving speed but it all depends on the engine characteristics. In a typical family car consumption is lowest when you’re using the highest gear at 80-90 km/h.
Myth 8: The older the car gets, the more fuel it consumes
It is true that cars which were manufactured years ago consume more fuel than the new ones. Still, consumption shouldn’t change as your car gets older. If you notice increased fuel consumption, you should have the car examined; something must have broken down.
Myth 9: You should warm the car up before you start driving
As we have already explained, idling means higher consumption so you will simply be wasting money. Not only this; the newer power units warm up better while driving. There is one condition, though: in the beginning you shouldn’t accelerate too fast or reach higher rpm. Wait for the engine to warm up and then use the accelerator pedal.
Myth 10: The start-stop system increases fuel consumption
In fact, the start-stop allows you to save money since it allows you to only use the engine when it’s needed. Unfortunately, the system means higher load on the alternator and starter, which may cause increased wear of the turbochargers. Use it carefully.
Economical driving – the facts
Fact 1: You should focus on driving smoothly
This is true: smoother driving is cheaper driving. It is when you accelerate that your car consumes more. You won’t make any savings if your driving is a mix of sudden accelerations and brakings. Economical driving is achieving the desired speed in a smooth but not too slow a way and thinking a few metres ahead so you can use the brakes to slow down instead of stopping when there is no need to.
Fact 2: Tyre pressure is the key
If the pressure in the tyres is low, the car consumes more; if it’s too high, the tyres are easier to pierce. To drive economically, make sure the pressure in the tyres is as recommended by the manufacturer.
Fact 3: You don’t have to drive everywhere!
This may sound banal but how many drivers drive everywhere simply because they’re used to it? If you examine the morning traffic jam, you will see a number of people driving alone, from the same quarter to the same workplace. If they jumped in the same car, how much cheaper would that be for everyone? Sometimes leaving your car in your own garage also gives you some extra time. Public transport can really be much faster and cheaper than driving. When it gets warm, cycling is an excellent alternative, too. Not only will it give you huge savings but it will also make you fitter.
If your work makes it impossible to resign from driving, then at least try not to use it too often in your free time. Whenever going on a family gathering, agree with the others so you only have as many cars as are necessary. In the weekend, take your family for a cycling trip instead of driving them to the shopping centre. In winter, take them for a walk in the park or forest. They will surely enjoy it!