THE fuel frenzy has begun. From the Bruneian government lashing out at its petrol–wasting citizens, to irked gas users taking to the streets in Indonesia, the world is finding the spiralling cost of oil price too hot to handle.
The time is nigh perhaps for Malaysians, cushioned still by the unrealistic fuel subsidy, to arm themselves with fuel–saving tips before weaning starts.
While there are no hard and fast rules to improving fuel economy, perhaps these pointers, when implemented collectively, might be useful in stretching the ringgit to the max as you cruise behind the wheels.
1. Keep tyres properly inflated
- Check your tyre pressure check. Under–inflated tyres wear off faster.
- And an under inflation of as little as one pound per square inch can reduce fuel efficiency, says Helen Taylors on Shell's FuelSave website.
- Helen and her husband, John, set a Guinness World Record last year for fuel efficiency by travelling an impressive 28,970km around the globe on just 24 refills of Shell Super with Fuel Economy formula.
- Regular sized tyres are best kept at 28 to 32 psi.
2. No to reckless driving
- Weaving in and out of the traffic at high speed pumps up more than the adrenaline rush. It pumps up your fuel use, too.
- Aggressive driving can guzzle up to a third more fuel than safe driving.
- The trick is to drive smoothly, keep the revs low, and not brake too hard.
3. Use air–conditioning sparingly
- Yes, we understand that sweaty armpits don't make a nice sight.
- But on rainy days, switch off the air-conditioner or use it sparingly.
- Air-conditioning puts added strain on the engine and contributes to fuel consumption.
- And if weather permits, you can wind down the window .
- Whilst you will lose some fuel efficiency through aerodynamics, it is still far more economical than using the air-conditioner, says John.
4. Slow and steady does it
- Speed is a huge factor when it comes to fuel economy. The faster one drives, the more wind resistance there is, and the harder the engine is made to work, says Taylors.
- It has been proven that driving just five miles per hour over the speed limit can dramatically increase fuel consumption.
- Ismail Abu Talib, senior technical executive with AAM, recommends cruise control on highways to maintain a constant speed of 60-80kmh.
- Most vehicles have a certain steady speed range that, if adhered to, will result in good fuel consumption.
- For example, the best fuel–efficient speed range for a 4x4 pick–up is between 60 and 80kmh.
5. Avoid excess weight
- Whenever your mother yells at you for cluttering up the car, thank her.
- Heavy load burns more fuel. That means no golf clubs in the boot, books on the floor, and half your closet on the passenger seat.
- An extra 100lb in the trunk reduces a typical car's fuel economy by 1–2 per cent, says fueleconomy.gov.
6. Avoid idling
- Your vehicle goes on a drinking binge when caught in a traffic snarl.
- Avoid congested areas by travelling outside of peak hours and use alternative routes.
- If you're in a car waiting for someone, turn your engine off. Idling gets you nowhere, but still burns fuel.
7. Select the right gear
- If you rev the engine and speed off the moment the light turns green, your car burns petrol way faster than it can pull away.
- Over–revving during gear changes, and driving in a gear lower than you need, are surefire ways of fuel wastage.
- Try to accelerate gently and smoothly, and get into high gear quickly as possible, says Isuzu Malaysia's Zaqi Zacary.
- For manual transmissions, change through the gears into top gear without accelerating harder than necessary.
- Automatic transmissions will shift up more smoothly if you ease back slightly on the accelerator once the car gains momentum, he adds.
- Always use a gear that corresponds to your speed requirement.
8. Think ‘aerodynamic’
- Wash it, polish it and wax it.
- A clean and shiny car doesn't just look good – it reduces resistance.
- Remove the roof rack too, if not in use, as it affects aerodynamic efficiency.
9. Service your vehicle regularly
- Don't be penny wise and pound foolish.
- Scheduled maintenance services, as determined by the car manufacturer, keep your vehicle in top notch and cut costs in the long run.
- For example, changing the engine oil reduces internal mechanical friction, which is the root cause of fuel consumption, says Ismail.
- Twice a year, get your car tuned if it's fitted with a carburettor, he adds.
- A well-tuned engine also stretches fuel consumption.
- Another recommendation is to change the clogged air filter every 20,000km.
- This cheap trick (RM12 – RM50) can improve mileage by as much as 10 per cent.
10. Switch to a Natural Gas Vehicle
- AAM proposes for more drivers to switch to NGV for better mileage and better environment protection.
- The gas cylinder and conversion kit costs between RM1,000 and RM2,000 but in the long run, it saves up a huge sum.
- Cars run on 20-30 sen of petrol per kilometre, but NGV does it on 8-10 sen. You do the math.