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  • Writer's pictureBig Wheels

Eight ways to improve fuel efficiency

Updated: Aug 2, 2020

With the cost of living rising exponentially in recent years, Aussies across the board are looking for ways to cut costs from their regular expenditure. When we consider that fuel is one of the biggest costs for private road users and businesses alike, it’s no wonder fuel efficiency is one of the first things we turn to.

However, improving your fuel economy is not only about saving money, but about doing our part to reduce the impact we create on the environment. For those who are ready to save a few dollars whilst doing something good for mother nature, let’s look at how to improve fuel efficiency.

1. Minimise Acceleration & Braking

Constant braking and acceleration can significantly reduce your fuel efficiency. This can be put down to more revs leading to increased use of fuel. To avoid unnecessary fuel consumption, aim to keep a reasonable distance from the motor vehicle in front of you so you’re better able to judge traffic conditions.

As well as being a safer way of driving, this will help you to avoid constant braking and acceleration. It’s also advised to take your foot off the accelerator and allow your car or truck to slowly drop rather than jamming on the brakes at the last minute and accelerating once more.

2. Avoid Speeding

Did you know that fuel consumption dramatically increases when travelling at over 90 km/h? According to the Department of the Environment, speeds of 110 km/h can guzzle up to 25% more fuel and hugely impact your bottom line when considering fuel costs. For this reason, aim to drive at lower speeds where possible and utilise cruise control when higher speeds are unavoidable (for example, on the motorway).

3. Towing & Loads

The more weight you’re carrying, the more energy a vehicle will need to consume to propel it forwards. It has been suggested that removing even just 10-20kg of weight from a vehicle could reduce the amount of fuel consumed by around 2.5%.

Yes, this number might look quite minuscule on its own, but when you think of it over one, five and ten years, the savings could be colossal.

Of course, smaller vehicles are more effected by weight than larger trucks and commercial vehicles, but every bit of weight removed will help.

4. Reduce Aerodynamic Drag

Aerodynamic drag is another major contributor to a reduction in fuel efficiency. While you may think that having your roof racks permanently hitched to your car is convenient, it also has the ability to boost fuel consumption by 20-30% in some cases – especially when travelling on the motorway.

If you need to use roof racks, consider taking them off when you can or opt for an aerodynamic roof box if removing them is not an option. Even closing your windows more often will contribute to a reduction in aerodynamic drag.

5. Avoid idling

Although you’re not actually travelling anywhere, idling can contribute to significant amounts of wasted fuel over time. To reduce instances of idling, avoid warming up your car or truck before taking off unless you have been specifically told to do so by a mechanic.

You can further reduce instances of unnecessary idling by turning off your engine on the road in times where you are likely to be stopped for more than 10-15 seconds. Overall, the wear and tear experienced by your vehicle will be infinitesimal and the fuel savings experienced by not running the engine will outweigh the burst of fuel used by turning the engine back on.

6. Use the right gear

For manual vehicles, driving in a lower or even higher gear than necessary forces your vehicle to work harder and therefore increases your fuel consumption. To avoid this, shift gears immediately when your vehicle is ready but remember not to accelerate more quickly than is required.

For automatic cars, try to pull back off the accelerator once you begin to speed up and stay away from sports mode or other power systems that will drop you into a lower gear and burn more fuel.

7. Wheel alignments

Did you know that misaligned wheels can increase your fuel consumption by 10%? (Bioenergy Australia). Wheels that aren’t correctly aligned cause drag and therefore are unable to roll smoothly.

As well as this, misaligned wheels can also create a safety hazard for drivers and other road users as they wear out more quickly and become unbalanced. When this occurs, the driver will feel vibration or unsteadiness in the steering wheel and could possibly find that the vehicle veers off to one side when the steering wheel is straight on.

To ensure tyres are optimised for fuel efficiency and safety, it’s important to have your vehicle inspected by a reputable professional with access to industry-leading equipment to get the job done.

At Big Wheels Truck Alignment, we offer state-of-the-art computerised wheel alignments to ensure pin-point accuracy by use of camera, gyro and inclinometers. Operated by our highly-experienced workman, the Truckcam wheel alignment systems provide exceptional accuracy and repeatability for every vehicle passing through our doors. Find out how a wheel alignment can save you money.

8. General Car & Truck maintenance

Maintaining your vehicle another one of the most important ways to ensure your engine is running at optimum efficiency. As well as this, keeping your vehicle well looked after with regular services will also assist in extending the life of your engine and help you to identify any issues that could cause your fuel economy to decrease.

Some of the things to keep on top of when it comes to car & truck maintenance include:

Replacing spark plugs

According to the National Institute for Automotive Service & Excellence in the US, misfiring spark plugs can increase fuel consumption by up to 30%.

Replacing air & fuel filters

Congested filters can decrease your fuel economy by around 10% - Bioenergy Australia

Using the appropriate grade of motor oil

Motor oils with a lower viscosity will travel through your engine more easily and therefore work to reduce your fuel consumption

Inflate with the right tyre pressure

Under-inflated tyres cause your engine to push harder, increasing the rolling resistance and thereby consuming considerably higher amounts of fuel – often by around 5%!

Quick tip: fill up your tank when the weather is coolest (early in the morning or late at night) as the fuel will be denser, therefore dispensing more for your money.

Fuel is one of the biggest costs we as consumers, truck drivers and road users are forced to pay, so make sure to make the most of it! If you’re ready to chat wheel alignments or have another query relating to your fuel economy, get in touch with your local Big Wheels service centre.

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