5 things you can do to improve your car’s fuel economy


In these days of high fuel prices, one has to be careful to ensure that your car is a fuel efficient as possible. Though the prices are falling, thank God this might not be long lived due to the planned increase of VAT on fuel in September plus crude oil prices are on an upward trend. In this article I will share 5 things that you can do so as to get the most from your car.

  1. Idling

Given the fact that Nairobi and most of our towns are synonymous with traffic. It simply means that at one point during the day you will find yourself in a traffic jam that might last for 10 minutes or more. The common practice is to leave the car idling as you wait for the traffic to open up. However, idling consumes 2-4 liters of fuel per hour and also contributes to needless emission of CO2 into the atmosphere. It is therefore more cost efficient to just switch off the engine and switch it back on rather than leaving it to idle.

2. Driving in highest possible gear

If you happen to drive at a fast rate but on a low gear, you will notice that he engine is laboring and produces a high whining sound. When the engine labors it consumes more fuel for example when driving at 60 km/hr, a vehicle uses 25 per cent more fuel in third gear than it would in fifth. Travelling at fast rates in low gear can consume 45 per cent more fuel than needed. As such it is more fuel efficient to drive at a high gear.

3. Oxygen Sensor

Most cars produced after 1980 have an oxygen sensor. This sensor is usually located on the exhaust manifold and is part of the emissions control system and feeds data to the engine management computer. The goal of the sensor is to help the engine to run as efficiently as possible and produce as few emissions as possible. As the engine burns the fuel it requires oxygen which should be at a ratio of 14:7:1 (different fuels have different perfect ratios, the ratio depends on the amount of hydrogen and carbon found in a given amount of fuel). An imperfect ratio will lead to inefficient fuel consumption. In the event your oxygen sensor fails, the computer can no longer sense the air/fuel ratio so it ends up guessing which means that your car performs poorly and uses more fuel than needed. Ensure to replace the sensor occasionally. I learnt this the hard way when my fuel economy suddenly dropped and the mechanics i visited couldn’t tell why, it is after i did some research and replaced the sensor that my fuel economy improved.

4. Avoid rough roads when possible

When driving on rough roads you are robbed of up to 30 per cent of fuel mileage. This is due to the fact that every time the wheels of your car bounce up and down, forward motion is removed from the vehicle. This forces the vehicle to slow down and the driver has to apply more throttle to move the car forward hence leading to a wastage of fuel. However, given the state of some of our roads this is easier said than done but when presented with using a short cut which is a rough road and using a tarmacked longer route. Choose the tarmacked option as you might end up using lesser fuel.

5. Combining Errands

If you have a couple of errands to run in a day, it is wise combine the errands into one trip to avoid unnecessary driving. Several short trips taken from a cold start can consume twice as much fuel as a longer multipurpose trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm. Planning your trips ensures that travelling is done when the engine is warm and efficient.

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