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How to Increase Fuel Efficiency in Your Car

As the cost of fuel increases, the focus on fuel efficiency continues to be top of mind for drivers and car buyers. Though buying a car with great fuel efficiency is a great way to lower how much gas you burn, the National Resources Canada has released information about how to reduce your average fuel consumption. Not only do these tips increase your fuel economy, they can also reduce your vehicle’s impact on the environment. Don’t forget to also consult your owner’s manual as this will contain specific information about how to drive and maintain your vehicle for optimum performance and efficiency.

Driving tips to help you reduce fuel consumption

  • Accelerate gently
  • The harder you accelerate, the more fuel you use. In the city is where about half of the fuel you consume is used to accelerate your vehicle. You can save as much as 15 percent by pressing the pedal gently. A handy way to get better at this is to imagine that you have an open cup of hot coffee on your dashboard; you don’t want that to spill everywhere!

  • Maintain a steady speed
  • You’ll not only lower your fuel consumption but this will also help traffic flow, minimize emissions, and create safer driving conditions. If the weather and roads are clear, use cruise control for highway driving to maintain a steady speed and optimize your fuel efficiency.

  • Anticipate traffic
  • Hard braking and rapid acceleration burn more fuel and are unsafe. Drive defensively and watch ahead for changes in traffic flow. When possible, leave plenty of space between you and the vehicle in front of you.

  • Avoid high speeds
  • When vehicles travel 80 km/h or higher they increase their fuel consumption. For example, a vehicles uses about 20 percent more fuel to travel at 120 km/h than to travel at 100 km/h. Slow down for safer and more fuel-efficient driving.

  • Coast to decelerate
  • By anticipating slowdowns and removing your foot from the accelerator as early as possible, you can decrease your speed and lower fuel consumption. Many vehicles today have fuel-injection systems that automatically shut off the flow of fuel to the engine when the accelerator is released, so take advantage by coasting.

  • Don't idle unnecessarily
  • If you are going to be stopped for more than 60 seconds - when parked - turn the engine off.

  • Use air conditioning sparingly
  • Due to the extra load on the engine, air conditioning can increase your vehicle's fuel consumption by 20 percent. Roll down your windows when city driving, or use your vehicle's flow-through ventilation on the highway.

  • Lighten your load
  • Roof and bicycle racks decrease your vehicle's aerodynamics and heavy items in your trunk increase the overall weight, causing your vehicle to burn more fuel. By packing only what you need, you can increase your fuel efficiency.

  • Make one long trip instead of several short ones
  • Separate trips of less than 5 km do not allow a cold engine to reach its peak operating temperature, resulting in increased fuel consumption and emissions. Need to make the trek to the mall, car wash and get groceries? Combine these trips into one outing to save time, fuel, and money. Seems simple, but the more you do it, the more you’ll reduce your fuel consumption.

Maintenance tips to help increase fuel economy

  • Follow your vehicle’s recommended maintenance schedule
  • A poorly maintained vehicle may consume more fuel. It negatively affects performance, produces higher levels of emissions and could lead to expensive repairs and low resale value.

  • Check fluid levels as recommended
  • Check and change the engine oil, engine coolant, transmission fluid (automatic) and power-steering fluid according to the manufacturer’s recommendations in your owner’s manual.

  • Check your tires
  • Measure the inflation level of your tires once a month, preferably when they are cold. Tires under-inflated by just 56 kilopascals (8 pounds per square inch) can lose 15,000 km from their lifespan and increase your vehicle’s fuel consumption by up to 4 percent. To find your vehicle’s recommended tire pressure, look for the vehicle information placard on the inside edge of the driver’s door, on the doorjamb, in the glove box or on the fuel door. If it’s not in any of those places check your owner’s manual. Learn more about how to check your tire pressure.

By following these tips you’ll find that it’s a win-win situation – not only will you get a little more mileage on each tank of gas, but you’ll also help ensure that you’re reducing your vehicle’s impact on the environment.