We all love the car we own and crave to get the best mileage out of it. Of course, if a car is used properly and well taken care of, it is an asset. And ignored and ill-maintained, it can soon turn into a liability.
So, are there any tricks and tips to maintain the car we drive and increase its mileage?
Let's take a look.
The engine of a car is like the heart of a human. Just like the heart keeps a human alive, the engine is what keeps a car running. As such, regular maintenance and servicing at intervals specified by the manufacturer should be done. The servicing should be done at a certified car servicing centre. A car whose engine is well maintained always gives good mileage.
We all know that diesel cars save more fuel than a petrol cars. The reason is that a petrol car engine requires a greater amount of revving than a comparable diesel engine to achieve the same amount of momentum. This excess revving consumes more fuel. However, petrol is preferred to diesel owing to its instant pick up and comparatively rapid acceleration. To obtain maximum economy from a petrol engine, it is advisable to use only 20% throttle input and not push more unless necessary. A change in momentum can be easily achieved by switching gears. It is better to use linear torque and cruise rather than trying to attain the peak torque in a petrol car. This will help with fuel economy.
Coasting is a technique suggested by experts to increase fuel efficiency and reduce the wear down of brakes. Instead of constantly pressing the accelerator, one can use the momentum created at the beginning to keep the car moving forward. The kinetic energy generated helps to take the car forward without having to keep pressing on the accelerator. Over revving reduces the mileage because sudden and rapid acceleration always consumes a lot of fuel. So it is advisable to conserve fuel and increase the car's mileage, coasting should be adopted as a technique and a way of driving, and any temptations to rapid and sudden acceleration of the car be avoided.
Just as sudden revving or accelerations are detrimental to a car, shifting of gears, if done inappropriately, can also burn more fuel. Sudden bursts of acceleration should be avoided, and gears should be switched in a linear manner without skipping them. A higher gear gives higher mileage. Correct usage of gears helps conserve fuel and improve the average.
Just like over-revving can consume more fuel, overuse of brakes can also be detrimental from the point of view of fuel economy. So instead of revving the engine and then pushing on the brakes, one can anticipate when there is a need to slow down before reaching the point instead of suddenly applying brakes. An excellent example is a traffic signal, where the driver can predict that he needs to bring the car to a halt and stop pushing the throttle well in advance. The car's speed will go on reducing automatically and smoothly, and there won't be a need to apply brakes. This technique burns lesser fuel than revving and braking.
Idling the car wastes fuel. So if you stop for more than a minute, it is better to turn off the engine rather than waste fuel by idling. Again, the traffic signal is a good example. The red light indicates the time left for it to turn green. So if there is more time, more than a minute, it is better to turn off the engine rather than keep it on and idling to conserve the fuel.
In automatic cars, which allow cruise control, switching to the cruise mode is better once the desired speed is achieved. Generally, a speed of around 60 km/hr can be maintained in the cruise control mode. If the car is to be slowed down, the cruise control is cancelled, and the car is allowed to coast and slow down. It has been stated that using cruise control can improve mileage by about 10 %. However, it is essential to know that using cruise control needs conducive road and traffic conditions. Bad roads or heavy traffic is not ideal for cruise control. On the contrary, cruise control becomes ideal if the road is good and the traffic is not too heavy.
Using the correct engine oil, as stated by the manufacturer, is very important for car engine health. The engine oil needs to be of the suitable viscosity, per the manufacturer's specifications. Synthetic engine oil, which is thinner and reduces friction with the engine, has increased car mileage. It has been stated that using improper and adulterated engine oil, or an engine oil of varying viscosity, can reduce car efficiency by over 30%.
Experts have stated that if the car is fuelled in the morning, it gives better mileage. As per the laws of physics, the cooler temperature gives better fuel density and helps to improve the mileage.
Just like over acceleration and over braking are not economical for the car, similarly over usage of the clutch can also result in burning more fuel than necessary. Over-usage of clutch should be avoided as far as possible. The clutch must be used while changing the gears. But other times, it is better not to keep the foot on the clutch, as that might slowly start exerting pressure on it and unknowingly damage the clutch and increase fuel usage.
In a tropical country like India, where the sun shines down harshly not just in summers but almost every day, and especially so at noon, turning on the Air conditioner to maintain a comfortable temperature inside the car is very tempting. However, driving a car with an air conditioner turned on consumes more fuel. It has been stated that AC can consume up to 10% of car fuel. So to achieve better mileage with the same speed, it is better to keep AC turned off. However, if AC is turned off, people tend to drive with all the windows fully open. If the car windows are kept fully open while driving at higher speeds, above 50 km/hr, there is more load on the car engine due to the pressure of air coming from the open windows, and it burns more fuel. So much so that it has been stated that the fuel burning because of AC is less than that which burns due to travelling with windows open, especially at higher speed. So it is advisable to avoid driving at higher speeds with AC off and windows fully open. One can keep the windows slightly open, or even better, keep the windows closed and use the car's blower at the fresh air setting to avoid turning on the AC.
However, there are certain situations where AC becomes mandatory; for example, when it is raining, windows have to be kept closed to avoid rainwater entering the car through open windows, and AC needs to be switched on to prevent fogging of the windows. A blower can be used for this purpose. If there is no way to avoid using AC, one more thing can be done to save some fuel. The temperature inside a car rises when it is parked, especially when it is not parked in the shade. When starting a car, always use natural ventilation by keeping the windows open for some time. This will automatically bring down the temperature inside the car, and then when the AC is switched on, it becomes easier for the AC to cool the insides, and less fuel is consumed. Another thing that can be done is, to switch off the AC compressor while starting to drive after a traffic signal stop and switch it on only after achieving the desired cruising speed. This will reduce the load on the engine and thus help burn lesser fuel.
Maintaining correct tyre pressure is vital when it comes to a car's fuel economy. The car manufacturer always indicates the recommended tyre pressure. These instructions must be followed to cut down on unnecessary fuel expenditure. If the tyre pressure is not as mandated by the manufacturer, the fuel efficiency has been seen to be reduced by 10 � 15 %. Both overinflating, and underinflating the tyres, have their own set of disadvantages. The manufacturer's recommendation for the air pressure in the car tyres can be found on a sticker on the driver's door or in the glove compartment. Mileage has also been said to increase if the air pressure in the tyres is increased slightly more, up to two psi, above the recommended one, to reduce the resistance. However, inflating the tyres to higher pressure, above two psi than the recommended pressure, carries the risk of tyre blowing out and causing an accident.
If a car is made heavy with weighty things laden inside the car, the car gives less mileage. So it is better to keep the car light by removing unnecessary items and luggage that add only to the weight of the car. Especially gym items like weights should be kept out of the car unless they are to be transported somewhere. Roof racks also add to the weight of a car, and they should be removed when not in use to get better mileage. Some cars have removable third-row seats. The car can be made lighter by removing these to improve the mileage.
After parking a car, when starting it again, it burns more fuel if it is reversed and turned. If the car is parked by turning it so that it already faces the way to exit, and reversing and turning a cold car is avoided, it consumes less fuel. It is advisable to park the car in a less crowded area to avoid the hassles of removing the car from a congested area which usually requires alternate braking and accelerating, which can burn more fuel if it is always better as the slope helps the car to gain momentum after starting without burning excess fuel and without the need for excessive revving of the engine.
If the trip is planned, it is better to check the map and chart out the route before starting the journey, as knowing the road well will result in lesser stops and better conservation of fuel.
There is a term called 'Hypermiling'. Hypermiling means using a driving technique that helps to get maximum mileage out of a petrol or diesel car. The simple tricks we discussed, such as coasting, using cruise control, avoiding idling, avoiding revving and avoiding sudden usage of brakes, all are useful for hypermiling and, if used appropriately, have been said to increase the mileage by about 50%. Of course, using these techniques needs good road conditions and traffic that doesn't need constant braking or change of speed. So it is probably not so helpful while driving in a city where there are traffic signals ever so often and much traffic of two-wheelers and pedestrians that can make coasting or cruise control almost impossible. But these techniques can help reduce the mileage while travelling on highways, where roads are generally in good condition and traffic is streamlined. However, the importance of regular servicing and maintenance of a car cannot be undermined. So if you want to improve the mileage, take good care of your car, and she will give you good returns!