A Guide To Fuel Efficient Driving — Part One (2022 update)

Thanks to Covid-induced supply chain problems and Russia’s war with Ukraine, oil prices have risen to over $ 100 / barrel. That and the lack of refining capacity (conversion of crude oil to petrol / diesel) has pushed the price of petrol and diesel to record high levels. One way to combat these prices is conservation – the less fuel we use, the less fuel we have to pay for, and if everyone uses less fuel, the price of oil will fall. Russia supplied about 11% of the world’s oil and the shutdowns in 2020 due to Covid’s reduced demand for fossil fuels by about 20%, bringing the oil price to zero (for a short period). This demonstrates the principle of conservation that overturns prices and defeats fuel price inflation.

If all the drivers on Earth took the best practices in this series of articles, we would reduce fuel consumption by more than Russia supplied to the world market, thus bringing the price of oil back to reason. And it would reduce carbon pollution and give us more time to increase electricity production.

This article was originally posted on CleanTechnica in December 2020 and will be republished with updates.

For most, they buy a vehicle and go to the gas station when the needle is low. But how you drive can get them many extra kilometers (or miles) from the same fuel, which reduces the total amount of fuel consumed and the carbon pollution formed (which also saves money, by the way). Each refill will cost the same, but you will go further between the refills, which means more trips / days per. tank.

This journey starts with the purchase of the vehicle if you purchase an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle and not an electric vehicle (EV). No matter how well you follow the steps below, a Hummer cannot match the fuel efficiency of a Geo Metro. But even the Lobster can achieve great efficiency gains. Of course, it is not always realistic to replace your vehicle in a time of scarcity of microchips, but a lighter and more fuel efficient vehicle will dramatically reduce how much you spend on fuel.

Those looking to buy electric cars have taken their name on several waiting lists, which is not a bad idea, provided that every single one that requires a deposit is refundable. An electric car will cost 1/4 to 1/8 of the price of electricity compared to what you currently use on petrol / diesel.

If you are considering buying a vehicle, look up your local government mileage and choose the most fuel efficient vehicle you can get away with. Buy only as much vehicle as you need, not as much as you can reach for. Very few people need an SUV – it may be more practical, but it requires more fuel and will cost much more to own during its lifetime (more expensive tires, brakes, repair parts, insurance, etc.). Many people can do fine with a compact or medium-sized vehicle, even if they do not want to face it. Of course, check to see if an electric car fits the bill and is competitive. There will be more EV models in 2022 and 2023, so if the current offers do not meet your needs, do not give up.

Newer vehicles of the same class often have better efficiency than older vehicles, partly due to age / wear and tear, but also because the technology is advanced. Although we have not yet found a way to defeat the laws of thermodynamics, energy conservation and so on, manufacturers have improved engines with technologies such as variable valve timing, direct injection, idle engine stop, more complex and more speed transmissions / continuously variable transmissions and more. That said, if you are looking for a new vehicle, you should definitely consider an electric car and remember that it can cost more in front ofbut depending on your annual mileage and how long you keep the vehicle, it will often more than pay the difference compared to a gasoline car in fuel savings.

That said, you probably already have a vehicle and are not currently in the market for a replacement. So to the meat in this article: driving for fuel efficiency.

You may have heard of the term hypermiles. People who follow this philosophy seek to maximize their fuel consumption and can use extreme and sometimes even unsafe methods to use less fuel. Do not do anything unsafe, even if you can rationalize it.

To begin with, you want your vehicle to be in tip-top shape. In the old days of switch points and carburetors, you had to get frequent tuneups, which involved manual adjustments to ensure that the air fuel mixture and spark / valve timing were as perfect as mechanical. With modern fuel injection and computer-controlled timing and engine management, you do not have to do as much manual or frequent maintenance. But what to do is even more critical. Make sure the spark plugs are within their rated life and have proper spacing. Make sure the fuel injectors are clean, as fuel-injected vehicles need cleaner fuel than carburetor cars. Therefore, you should strive to buy your fuel from companies that advertise purity additives in their fuel, which will also help maximize vehicle mileage (and consider using Top Tier fuel in countries that offer it that have extra cleaning agents for engine cleaning). ). Use the type of engine oil recommended by the manufacturer. Thinner oil can improve the economy a bit, but can reduce engine life, so it’s typically not worth it.

Make sure your tires have the air pressure recommended on the label inside the driver’s door. You can use a higher pressure for a little extra fuel economy (up to the maximum indicated on the tire side), but you will have to endure a harder ride, which is not good for your suspension. Tire pressure will drop a few psi in the winter and rise a few psi in the summer. Check your tires every month if you do not have a tire pressure monitor built-in. If you have, check its warning threshold – some will wait until a tire is very low before giving a warning. Nitrogen in the tires has some benefits but is not required. It keeps the pressure longer, so if you do not check it often, it saves some work. Also, if you do not drive many kilometers a year, it slows down the aging of the tires somewhat – you can go a little further before the tires dry out with age. If your tires tend to be worn by tread wear, then the service life benefit evaporates.

Also, if your tires die of age instead of mileage, periodic use of tire gloss with UV protection can extend their life.

Of course, you want to keep track of the fluid and belt replacement intervals so that the components do not wear out prematurely and cause a large repair bill. This does not help much on efficiency, but improves the reliability and expected life of the vehicle. Your instruction manual should contain this information. Do not skimp on preventive maintenance – for example, a timing belt that breaks on an interference motor or worn automatic transmission oil that destroys the transmission is very expensive, but can still be prevented. Leap maintenance is false economy.

When was the last time you replaced your engine’s air filter? Most can be made yourself and you can buy them cheaply at the retailer or a third party. Fancy aftermarket filters are mostly gimmicks, and an OEM filter will do the job fine as long as it is replaced when needed. Most cars will have a maintenance plan that specifies replacement intervals for this. Do not confuse the engine air filter with the cabin air filter.

Your engine’s mass airflow sensor (MAF) and oxygen sensor (s) tell your computer how much fuel to supply for optimal combustion. If they do not work properly, the air / fuel mixture will be off and this often increases fuel consumption. Some MAF sensors can be cleaned with electronics cleaning spray, but check this for your car model before you do it yourself. As for oxygen sensors, your car has some built-in diagnostic equipment that can turn on the engine. If this light is on, determine the cause (there are dozens of reasons that make it light up) and solve the problem to maximize your fuel economy.

Keeping the exterior of your vehicle clean (especially in winter) maximizes its aerodynamics. Waxing can also help a few percent on the highway. And there are some rims that can improve aerodynamics a bit. Avoid external aftermarket equipment that alters or adds to the exterior shape of the vehicle. Everything from grill guards to spoilers affects the aerodynamics, and despite the claims, usually not in a positive way.

Tires also have a small effect on mileage, and you can buy fuel-saving models. Some have less grip than standard tires, yet not all fuel-saving tires have less grip, as some have changed rubber composition and optimized resilient sidewalls. Google can often help you find the rolling resistance of any tire you are considering as a replacement or fuel-saving tire the size of your vehicle. Many tires now claim to save fuel, so try to look up any tests performed to stop the claim, as it is likely that the savings are marginal if they are not deliberately designed to save fuel.

Fuel-efficient tires can increase your mileage by 2-5% on average compared to standard summer / all-season tires. And even more compared to performance tires, track tires, terrain tires and snow tires.

You need a lot more fuel to run through viscous solids and liquids, and heavy rain, snow, gravel, mud and more will significantly increase your fuel consumption.

Higher octane fuel improves mileage in high compression engines. However, this is mostly in performance cars. There are some vehicles that do not provide higher compression that achieve a slight improvement on it, but not near enough to justify the higher cost. However, many manufacturers add extra purity additives to their higher octane fuel and advertise this as they try to muddy the water and get more people to buy fuel that their car does not really need. Save your money and use the fuel octane number specified in the user manual.

Follow the second part – Driving behavior.

Standard disclaimers apply. All advice is for informational purposes only – CleanTechnica is not responsible for any damage caused by inaccurate information and the user assumes all risks by following the advice given.


See our brand new E-bike guide. If you are curious about electric bikes, this is the best place to start your e-mobility journey!


Do you appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality and cleantech news coverage? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica member, supporter, technician or ambassador – or patron of Patreon.


Do you have a tip for CleanTechnica, would you like to advertise, or would you like to suggest a guest to our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.