We Indians are obsessed with fuel efficiency numbers. Before we buy a car (whether new or used), one of the most pertinent questions we tend to ask is “Kitna Deti Hai” (what is the average of the car). In fact, this obsession with the fuel efficiency that has put companies like Maruti Suzuki at the top of the sales chart with others following the leader in their quest to achieve the highest average numbers for their cars. Being cognizant of the car’s average is good in many aspects. Firstly, it will help us to save on fuel cost as fuelling is the major component of the ownership cost. Secondly, fuel-efficient cars tend to emit less pollution which ultimately helps to reduce environmental degradation due to vehicular pollution.
Now coming to a more relevant question: How to increase the fuel efficiency of your car? The simplest answer is to change your car and buy a new one claiming higher fuel efficiency. Clearly, this option might not find favor with many due to its monetary implications. Fortunately, there are other easier and economical ways which will help to maximize fuel efficiency while allowing you to stay put with the same car.
1) Avoid Passionate Driving: It is rather easy to be swayed by emotions while driving. Consider a situation when you are driving sedately but then suddenly somebody overtakes you from the wrong side; causing hurt to your driving esteem. Many in this situation will speed up to catch with the overtaking car and sometimes these situations end up in a brawl or even worse an accident. Now think about it calmly – Do you really need to pursue the overtaking car: Perhaps, no. As a responsible citizen, it is your duty to drive carefully on the road and ignore such instances which could possibly land you in trouble. Keep your composure and continue to drive in a sedate manner. Along with keeping you safe, this driving style has an added advantage of enhancing fuel efficiency.
Similarly, when you stop on a traffic light and start moving again once it is green; make sure you accelerate gently rather than pushing the throttle all the way down immediately. Building the acceleration in a linear manner will help you to maximize kilometers covered per liter of fuel.
2) Avoid Overloading: Cars be considered similar to the human body in their working operations. They breathe oxygen and emit a mixture of gases including carbon dioxide and monoxide. The lesser load you put on your car, the less fuel-air mixture it requires to run, and hence more will be the fuel efficiency. Not only for the average, avoiding vehicle overloading is beneficial for its longevity also. Don’t stuff extra people than the prescribed seating capacity of the car and most importantly, do not convert your car into a utility vehicle by forcing loads of cargo, bags, and luggage inside it. Remember, when your car runs without overload, it is likely to perform optimally in every parameter of consideration. Even the mechanical hardware like brake and suspension will perform in a most favorable manner when there is no extra strain on the car.
3) Issue of Aerodynamics: Most of us are unaware of the effect of aerodynamics on our cars’ performance. It is one of the most important components of consideration when manufacturers first conceive the car on drawing board and then go ahead with test its prototypes. A rough estimate suggests that aerodynamic forces can lower the fuel efficiency of your car by 2-8% when you drive between 50-60 kmph. If you crossover to triple-digit speed, i.e., above 100 kmph, aerodynamics could reduce your car’s average by up to 25%, thereby explaining the logic of not driving in an aggressive manner.
Another important implication related to aerodynamics is to resist the desire of equipping your car with cosmetic enhancements such as body-kit, spoilers, roof rails, etc. All these accessories will accentuate the drag coefficient which, in turn, has a negative impact on the fuel efficiency of your car.
4) Regular Service and Maintenance Schedule: It goes without saying that the actual condition of the car has a huge impact on its fuel efficiency. One of the easiest ways of enhancing the average is to follow the service and maintenance schedule of the car religiously call me. It’s like if you follow a balanced diet plan, do exercise regularly, and take preventive measures, you are less likely to fall ill and need medicines. In the same way, taking your car to the service center as per the schedule will make it more fuel-efficient and help sustain longer life. There are some specific measures that you can take to further enhance the performance which includes the use of synthetic engine oil rather than the conventional oil, taking care of wheel balancing and alignment, and using genuine spare parts in case your car requires any replacement. These things might sound very small but they contribute significantly to the overall well-being of your car.
5) Taking Care of Tires: Insignificant as it might sound, incorrect air pressure is one of the main culprits behind low average numbers. Maintaining the air pressure as per recommendations goes a long way in enhancing fuel efficiency – don’t underinflate or overinflate than what has been prescribed by the manufacturer. Also, you need to closely monitor the tread pattern on tires and immediately replace them in case you find them worn out. During the replacement, you should consider fitting your vehicle with tires offering low rolling resistance. This is definitely going to add to the fuel efficiency and help you to maximize kilometers per liter.
In a nutshell, extracting the maximum average from your car is an art that requires a number of factors to come together in a perfectly harmonious manner. For example, you might be very careful about your car’s tires and maintenance schedule but then all these benefits can be easily canceled out all if you resort to an aggressive style of driving or overload your vehicle. Therefore, one should learn to balance these things which will ultimately help you to get the best out from your car.