Whether you drive a gas-powered or electric vehicle, these driving tips can help you conserve fuel to get the most out of your tank.
1. Gentle Acceleration & Deceleration
It may come as no surprise that the harder you hit the gas and brakes on your vehicle, the more fuel you use. The golden guideline is to both accelerate and decelerate as gently as possible.
When picking up pace after a stop, spend five seconds accelerating to 20km/h before increasing your speed any higher. To decelerate, look ahead in traffic to gauge when to start slowing down and then take the foot off the gas. Don’t wait until the last minute to slam the brakes to stop: you’ll waste more gas accelerating from a complete stop.
(Of course, we’re talking about when you have the choice to use your forward momentum to slow down instead of fully stopping.)
2. Plan Your Route
If you plan your route before setting off, plan how much fuel you’ll need. This can include timing your trip outside peak traffic hours, mapping your path to avoid major cities, and combining multiple journeys into one to limit how often your engine has to warm up. With consistent planning, you can keep an accurate record of how much fuel you use each month. This could help motivate you to set goals to limit your fuel usage whenever possible.
3. Don’t Idle
Perhaps one of the most obvious fuel-saving tips is to not let your engine run when it’s not in use. On an average 3-litre tank, up to 300ml of fuel is wasted for every 10 minutes spent idling. Aside from when you’re in traffic, turn your engine off if you’re stopped for more than 60 seconds.
4. Pack Light
When was the last time you cleared out your car? A 2008 MIT study estimated that for every 100kg of weight reduction on a vehicle, the combined city/highway fuel savings totalled 0.4L/100km for cars and 0.5L/100km for trucks. According to Natural Resources Canada (NRC), for example, a 2016 Honda Civic Coupe with automatic transmission consumes 6.7-6.9 L/100 km. If you carry around an extra 50kg of cargo, your vehicle will be consuming 6.9-7.1 L/100 km.
To keep things light and save a few dollars, don’t bring anything in your car that you don’t need for your current trip. This includes roof racks and bicycle racks, which can increase fuel consumption up to 20% on the highway, according to (NRC).
5. Buy Only What You Need
If you’re in the market for a new car, really consider your needs. Fuel efficiency doesn’t come just through driving techniques, route planning, and packing light. Nor does it come just through innovative technology. As we’ve just explained, the less you have to carry, the less fuel you need. Extend this logic to your new vehicle: don’t buy a large vehicle that weighs more when a small will do.
6. Mind the Pressure
A common myth says you’ll save some fuel by driving with under-inflated tires. Not only will this significantly decrease their longevity, resulting in more frequent replacements, but it’s a good recipe for a blowout and potential accident.
Inflate your tires to their correct pressure. This information is typically listed on the inside of the driver’s door. Not only is this safer, you can also still improve your mileage by an average of 0.6% up to 3%. You can learn more about tires here.
7. Limit Your Climate Control
Although cars are notorious for their bad insulation, reducing the use of your air conditioner in the summer and your heating in the winter will also help you save on fuel. Opt for opening your windows when it’s not too hot outside in the warmer months. In the colder months, keep your jacket and toque on in the car.
Every Little Bit Helps
With all the advice out there these days on how to help the environment, we can feel overwhelmed and choose to not do anything. Start with little steps and build up. Following these tips will help you save money, the environment, and your vehicle. Who can argue with that?