How to get better fuel economy as gas prices rise

It’s actually pretty easy to reduce your fuel consumption

The price of gas has been slowly increasing recently here in the Yukon.

It hasn’t gone up as much as in British Columbia, where there are some estimates of gas hitting $2 a litre by summer.

Even so, I thought it would be a good time to remind readers of some things you can do to increase your fuel economy. The first and most important thing you can do is slow down. This will not only save you fuel but will also greatly decrease your chance of getting in a crash. It’s estimated that fuel economy can be increased by as much as 15 per cent by driving under 100 km/h. Faster driving uses more engine power to overcome drag.

Quick acceleration is another enemy of good fuel economy. Many newer vehicles have an available dash display that shows current fuel economy. Try having this displayed, and watching what habits and behaviour affect your fuel economy positively or negatively.

Another important step is making sure your car is properly serviced and tuned up. This would include:

• Regularly servicing your vehicle so it’s running optimally. Fuel filters, sensors, fuel injectors, et cetera all need to be clean and working properly. Get any warning or check engine lights looked at immediately.

• A clean air filter. Replacing or cleaning your air filter regularly will improve fuel economy by as much as 10 per cent.

• Keeping your tires properly inflated. Check your tire pressure regularly. Low tire pressure increases the rolling resistance of your vehicle and will reduce fuel economy. Properly inflated tires can increase fuel economy by up to 3 per cent. Tires can lose one pound per square inch of pressure per month, so it’s recommended that you check your tire pressure at least monthly. I doubt most of us ever check our tire pressure, but we absolutely should.

Other steps to remember include:

• Lighten your load. Weight is a big deal with stop-and-go driving. An extra 45 kg affects fuel economy by one to two per cent. Go through your vehicle and remove all unnecessary items.

• Check your fuel needs. If your manual says to use regular and you’re using premium you may be adding unnecessary costs to your fill-up that will negatively affect your fuel economy. It’s suggested that keeping your tank between a quarter full and half full will also increase fuel economy by lessening weight.

• Remove your roof rack when it’s not needed. More drag on your vehicle will result in more fuel consumption. Even aerodynamic racks cause drag.

• Avoid using the air conditioning when not needed. A/C causes the engine to work harder and thus lessens fuel economy. Rolling down the windows may be enough cooling. However at higher speeds the drag of open windows may lessen fuel economy.

• Adjust your braking habits. Re-acceleration after braking reduces fuel economy.

• Enable your overdrive if you have this feature. Newer cars may have a switch on the shifter to enable overdrive. This will increase fuel economy at higher speeds by using a higher gear.

• Avoid idling if not necessary. Idling uses more fuel than you may think.

If you work on most of the items discussed here to change your driving habits, it will make a big difference in your fuel economy. If you spend $250 per month on fuel, a fifteen per cent increase in fuel economy would save you over $450 per year. To determine what your current fuel economy is, next time you fill up either make a note of your current mileage or reset the trip odometer to zero. Now drive as you normally would until your next fill up. Make note of how many kilometres you’ve driven, either by subtracting your starting mileage from your current mileage or by just looking at the trip odometer.

Now divide the number of kilometres driven by the number of litres it took to refill your vehicle. This is your current fuel economy. Example: if you drove 100 kilometers and used nine litres of fuel, your current fuel economy would be 9 litres per 100 kilometres, or approximately 30 miles per gallon. Once you know what your current fuel economy is, you can try modifying some driving behaviours and see how much it will improve your fuel economy and then how much money it will save you. Start a journal, either with a notepad in the console, or with one the many apps available for your smartphone.

Change your habits as we’ve discussed for a month while tracking your fuel economy. Then decide if it’s worth it.

Catch Driving With Jens on CHON FM Thursdays at 8:15. If you have any questions or comments you can reach out to Jens Nielsen at drivingwithjens@zgmail.com, Facebook or Twitter: @drivingwithjens.

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