Fuel Saving Tips

Whether you drive a tiny hybrid or a three-ton SUV, chances are you can squeeze a bit more distance out of each km of fuel -- and at today's fuel prices, an improvement of just one or two kms per litre can really add up. These eight fuel saving tips have served well over the years, and they can help you improve your car's fuel economy and take some of the sting out of high fuel prices. Most of these tips will give you a very slight increase in kms per litre -- but use several together and the improvements will really add up.

1. Slow down
One of the best ways to save fuel is to simply reduce your speed. As speed increases, fuel economy decreases exponentially. If you are one of the "ten-over on the freeway" set, try driving the speed limit for a few days. You'll save a lot of fuel and your travel times won't be much longer.

2. Check your tyre pressure
Under-inflated tyres are one of the most commonly ignored causes of crummy kms per litre. Tyres lose air due to time. Under-inflated tyres have more rolling resistance, which means your engine has to work harder to keep your car moving. Buy a reliable tyre gauge and check your tyres at least once a month. Be sure to check them when they are cold, since driving the car warms up the tyres (and the air inside them), which increases pressure and gives a falsely high reading. Use the inflation pressures shown in the owner's manual or on the data plate in the driver's door panel.

3. Check your air filter
A dirty air filter restricts the flow of air into the engine, which harms performance and economy. Air filters are easy to check and change: See your owner's manual for instructions. Remove the filter and hold it up to the sun; if you can't see light coming through it, you need a new one. 

4. Accelerate with care
Speedy starts are an obvious fuel-waster -- but that doesn't mean you should crawl away from every light. If you drive an automatic, accelerate moderately so the transmission can shift up into the higher gears. Stick-shifters should shift early to keep the revs down, but don't lug the engine; downshift if you need to accelerate. Keep an eye well down the road for potential slowdowns. If you accelerate to speed then have to brake right away, that's wasted fuel.

5. Get back to nature
Consider shutting off the air conditioner, opening the windows and enjoying the breeze. It may be a tad warmer, but at lower speeds you'll save fuel. That said, at highway speeds the A/C may be more efficient than the wind resistance from open windows and sunroof. If I'm going someplace where arriving sweaty and smelly could be a problem, I bring an extra shirt and leave early so I'll have time for a quick change.

6. Back off the bling
New wheels and tires may look cool, and they can certainly improve handling. But if they are wider than the stock tyres, they'll create more rolling resistance and decrease fuel economy.

8. Don't drive
Not a popular thing to say on a car site, I know, but the fact is that if you can avoid driving, you'll save fuel. Take the train, carpool, and consolidate your shopping trips. Walking or biking is good for your wallet and your health. And before you get in your car, always ask yourself: "Is this trip really necessary?"