With fuel costs at record highs, you wouldn’t be alone in wondering what you could do to cut your fuel costs. Owning and maintaining a car can take a sizeable chunk out of a paycheque, but leaving the car at home simply isn’t an option for many commuters or those living in remote areas. One way to cut fuel costs is to choose a vehicle with a higher mileage rating, or smaller engine size. However, there are also things you can do to make your existing car more efficient.
Benefits of an Aerodynamic Car
Why do some vehicles have a better fuel economy than others? Size obviously plays a big part and cars that are light and small tend to have a better rating but, what about those who are more interested in driving a family SUV than the Peugeot 208s on Carsales or other listings sites? To make larger vehicles more fuel-efficient, many car manufacturers focus on engine efficiency rather than size. Diesel and hybrid engines can play a strong role in making a car more efficient. Larger cars can also be tweaked in other ways, to produce less drag as the car is driven.
One of the primary factors that influence a car’s efficiency is aerodynamics. This is responsible for the sleek cars we have available today. Along with drag, other factors that influence aerodynamics include lift and the movement of the car when it’s in a crosswind. Cars that get stuck in these winds due to bulk need to work harder to keep moving forward; which is why they are less efficient. This in turn costs you more money at the pump, to keep fuelling that hard-working engine. This is why driving a small car like a Ford Fiesta or Nissan Pulsar will keep fuel costs down, but it is actually quite surprising how big of an impact the smallest changes can make.
Improving your Vehicle
Today’s car manufacturers work hard to reduce drag and improve efficiency, but you can make your car even more efficient with a few simple modifications. One area to look at is your tyres, the easiest measure you can take is to ensure they are correctly inflated, particularly prior to long trips. If you drive a SUV and don’t need heavy treaded tyres, opt for something smoother instead to increase your driving comfort, decrease the rolling resistance of your vehicle and reduce fuel consumption.
Another very simple option is to roll up your windows when you’re driving at high speeds. Many drivers leave windows open, thinking that the air conditioning will use more fuel. However, in hot weather and at speeds over 35 mph, it can actually be more efficient to use climate control sparingly.
It’s amazing how many cars you see sporting roof racks which are rarely used and removing the roof rack is an easy way to reduce unwanted drag. It might not surprise you that fuel efficiency drops when you carry something on your roof racks, but roof racks alone can increase your cars fuel consumption by up to 20%.
Other, slightly more extreme modifications include removing mud flaps (although you may pay the price with a slightly dirtier car) and lowering your ride so that it is closer to the ground for an improvement in aerodynamics.
If you’re in the market for a new car, it doesn’t hurt to take aerodynamics into account to save money on fuel over the long term. If you have an older, less aerodynamic car, consider ways you could easily reduce drag and improve efficiency.
Do you have any money saving driving tips?
Image by joshua alan davis