Fuel-saving tips are sacred things that have been passed down for generations. But, are they really genuine?
It’s a rite of passage every petrolhead goes through, and it probably starts with “I heard about this tip back then about…”.
With petrol prices ever increasing, plus the onslaught of inflation and global conflicts, car owners worldwide are always looking for ways to help increase the fuel efficiency of their cars, in a bid to return to petrol stations with less of an empty wallet.
While there are certain truths being passed around when it comes to saving fuel, there are also several “myths” that you can dismiss as being true. Conveniently, the AutoApp team has broken down some of these for you.
Myth 1: Keep your car idling, it saves more petrol than restarting it
Picture this. You’re early to your kid’s tuition class, and you are waiting in the car park. Instead of shutting down the car, you keep it running, thinking that while idling you are saving fuel.
Sorry to burst your bubble pal, but leaving your engine running while your car is idle actually uses up more petrol than it is required to restart it. A study conducted by the Environmental Defense Fund, a non-profit organisation based in the United States, you should turn off your car’s ignition if you’re waiting for more than 10 seconds.
While idling, you consume roughly between 1/3 and 1/2 of a litre of fuel, depending on your vehicle. Plus, modern vehicles with direct fuel injection and electronic ignitions start more easily and suffer less wear and tear in the process.
Plus, idling in enclosed spaces is illegal anyway, so next time it’s a good practice to switch your vehicle off.
Myth 2: Coasting in Neutral helps save petrol
While yes, it is true that when you place your car in neutral, the engine starts to idle and consumes a small amount of petrol. But, you may not know that as you start slowing down, the engine begins to work harder to prevent the vehicle from stalling.
This is because the wheels are not turning the engine, so the engine has to inject fuel into the combustion chambers in order to maintain idle RPM.
Therefore, with modern automatics that are designed to be as efficient as possible, keeping your car in Drive will save you more petrol.
MYTH 3: Air-conditioning vs winding down windows
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of rolling down your windows on a cool day and feeling the cool breeze on the open road. It does feel good, and you would think that it is an effective method in saving fuel too, as you may not need to use your air-conditioning.
But, when your vehicle’s windows are down, you allow air to flow into the vehicle instead of where it would traditionally flow over, thereby inducing more drag. Like mini parachutes, these small pockets of air can produce enough drag that inadvertently affects your vehicle’s overall drag coefficient.
For best fuel efficiency, you would need to keep the windows up and turn off your air-conditioning. This is pretty extreme though, and we do not recommend it, especially in our hot and humid climate.
Thus, our suggestion would be to turn on your air-conditioning, but keep the temperature and fan speed to respectable levels. This will enable you to be efficient, and save fuel in the process! Don’t blast, or your fuel will go fast.
MYTH 4: Cruise control can help to save petrol
This is true to a certain extent. While cruise control might be effective on flat roads when your vehicle maintains a constant speed, rapid and sudden acceleration on steeper terrain may burn out a lot of fuel.
Since the vehicle is given a speed to maintain, its internal computers will try their best to keep up, even if it means revving the engine to death.
If you’re planning to use cruise control whilst driving, be cautious and anticipate any upcoming incline. Before cruise control can intervene, you can try applying slight pressure to the accelerator pedal slowly and as needed. This allows you to maintain speed without sudden engine revs induced by the cruise control system.
MYTH 5: The smaller the car, the more frugal it is
If you were to look at cars purely by body size, one popular belief is that smaller cars get better fuel efficiency numbers due to their lighter builds.
However, with technology improving by leaps and bounds over the recent decades, a car’s efficiency is now determined by various other factors such as under-the-hood performance, materials, and body aerodynamics, not just its size.
Our advice is to get a vehicle that fits your needs. A large SUV sounds excellent on paper, but it doesn’t really make sense when you’re driving it alone all the time with no one else to ferry around.
MYTH 6: Petrol consumption increases as a car gets older
Wear and tear is perfectly normal on a vehicle, especially if it’s of an older age. However, as long as your car is well maintained, fuel consumption over time should remain the same, or at the very least, increase ever so slightly.
Regular maintenance will keep your engine running at peak efficiency, so don’t worry about getting about an older car!
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