A vehicle can burn up to 30 percent more fuel if proper maintenance is not performed on a regular schedule. These 20 tips will help you use every last drop of fuel you pour into your tank.
1. Check your tire pressure at least once a month. Under-inflated tires burn more fuel. If tires are underinflated, rolling resistance of the tires increases.
2. At the pump, keep the hose in the tank until after the pump shuts off and make sure you allow all the fuel to pour out of the nozzle. As much as a quarter of a cup can pour from the hose.
3. When appropriate, use your cruise control. This can save you up to 6 percent in fuel consumption on the highway.
4. Corroded battery cables cause the alternator to work harder, using more fuel. Have them cleaned with each engine check-up.
5. Don't let the vehicle idle for more than a minute. Idling consumes two to four litres of fuel per hour and pumps needless CO2 into the atmosphere. The modern engine will consume less fuel turning off and re-starting than idling for extended periods.
6. Change the air filter at least the set number of times outlined in the owners manual, more if you drive in dusty conditions.
7. Have a regular engine check-up. Since the advent of computer controlled fuel injection, there is no such thing as an old-fashioned "tune-up" anymore. At worst, you may be expected to replace spark plugs, oxygen sensor, the air and fuel filters.
8. If your car was built since the mid-1980s, chances are it has an oxygen sensor in its exhaust system. It should be replaced just as you would spark plugs, following the manufacturer's recommendations. This little device trims the fuel delivery and has a profound effect on fuel economy in the process.
9. Driving in the highest gear possible without laboring the engine is a fuel-efficient way of driving. Driving at 60 km/h, a vehicle will use 25 percent more fuel in third gear than it would in fifth. Traveling at fast rates in low gears can consume up to 45 percent more fuel than is needed.
10. Think ahead! Drive smoothly. By applying light throttle and avoiding heavy braking, you can reduce both fuel consumption and wear and tear. Research suggests driving techniques can influence fuel efficiency by as much as 30 percent.
11. Lighten your load. Think carefully about what you need on a journey. If you do not need something, do not pack it. Remove roof racks if not needed, as they create wind drag. The lighter the load, the lower the fuel consumption and emissions. An extra 50kg in the trunk reduces a typical car's fuel economy by 1 to 2 percent.
12. Choose the right octane gas for your car. Check the owner's manual to find out what octane your engine needs. Octane ratings measure gasoline's ability to resist engine knock. But the higher the octane, the higher the price. Only about 6 percent of cars sold need premium gas.
13. Combining errands into one trip saves you time and money. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer multipurpose trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm. Trip planning ensures that traveling is done when the engine is warmed-up and efficient.
14. You can improve your fuel efficiency by one to two percent by using the manufacturer's recommended grade of motor oil. For example, using 10W-30 motor oil in an engine designed to use 5W-30 can lower your efficiency by one to two percent. Thicker oil is harder to pump. This adds to parasitic horsepower losses.
15. Avoid "revving" the engine, especially just before you switch the engine off; this wastes fuel needlessly and washes oil down from inside the cylinder walls. This is the really bad thing for the next startup, as the cylinder walls will be dry.
16. Drive steadily. Slowing down or speeding up wastes fuel. Also, avoid tailgating. Not only is it unsafe, but it affects your economy if the other driver slows down unexpectedly.
17. Do not rest your left foot on the brake pedal while driving. The slightest pressure puts "mechanical drag" on components, wearing them down prematurely. This "dragging" also demands additional fuel usage to overcome the drag.
18. Avoid rough roads whenever possible, because dirt or gravel can rob you of up to 30 percent of your fuel efficiency. Every time the wheels bounce up and down, forward motion energy is removed from the vehicle.
19. Inspect suspension and chassis parts for misalignment. Bent wheels, axles, worn shocks, and broken springs can contribute to drivetrain drag, not to mention the unsafe condition they create.
20. SUV owners should consider switching from an aggressive patterned off-road tread to a fuel-efficient highway tread.
Make sure to use as many of these tips and save $$$!
Happy Mazda Motoring.
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