You asked for it and – eerily – Chrysler has delivered, publishing the tips and strategies employed by husband and wife team John and Helen Taylor on their fuel economy challenge in the Jeep Patriot and Jeep Compass.
Despite manufacturers producing increasingly efficient engines, by far the most important factor in the reduction of fuel consumption is the driver.
“We used simple fuel economy driving techniques that any driver could replicate,” said John Taylor. “There is no hidden secret to what we achieved on this drive, and by following the same simple actions, I am confident that any motorist can achieve outstanding fuel efficiency gains.”
Traveling on normal roads, at realistic speeds and in a variety of weather and traffic conditions in an unmodified production Jeep Patriot and Jeep Compass, the Taylors offer the following tips and guidance on how motorists can obtain the best possible fuel efficiency from their vehicle.
Aggressive driving can use as much as a third more fuel compared to conservative driving. Avoid accelerating or braking too hard, and try to keep the steering action as smooth as possible.
Use Higher Gears
The higher the gear, the lower the engine speed. This can improve fuel efficiency, so use the highest gear appropriate, without causing the engine to labour at an ultra-low rpm. Automatic transmission vehicles will upshift through the gears more quickly and smoothly if the driver eases back slightly on the accelerator when the car has gathered sufficient momentum.
Tune and Service the Engine
A well tuned engine can improve fuel economy by up to four percent. Change the oil and always follow the car manufacturer’s recommendation on servicing.
Keep the Tyres at the Correct Pressure
Correctly inflated tyres are safer and last longer, and they also reduce the amount of energy required to keep the vehicle rolling. A tyre that is under inflated by one psi can reduce fuel efficiency by as much as three percent.
Avoid Carrying Excess Weight
For every extra 45 kilograms (100 pounds) carried in a vehicle, the fuel efficiency can drop by two percent, so keep the trunk and rear seat clear of any unnecessary items that just add weight to the vehicle.
Take the Roof Rack Off
If the roof rack or roof bars are not being used, then remove them. They adversely affect the aerodynamic efficiency of the vehicle and create drag, reducing fuel economy by as much as five percent.
Use the Correct Engine Oil
Always use the recommended grade of motor oil. Using the manufacturer’s recommended lubricant can improve fuel efficiency by one or two percent. Higher quality motor oils can also help your engine operate more efficiently.
Avoid Excess Idling
Idling gets a vehicle nowhere but still burns fuel. Turn the engine off when you’re in a queue, or waiting for someone, until you need to drive.
Avoid High Speeds
The faster you travel, the more wind resistance you’ll encounter and the more fuel your vehicle will consume just to maintain speed. Driving just eight km/h (five mph) over the speed limit can affect fuel economy by up to 23 percent.
Maintain the Distance
Leaving a sensible distance between your car and the vehicle in front gives the driver ample time to anticipate obstacles and to brake evenly.
Use Air Conditioning Sparingly
Air conditioning puts added strain on the engine and uses additional fuel when operating, so limit its use to particularly hot days. On temperate days, use the fan instead of air conditioning.
Check the Air Filter
The air filter keeps impurities from damaging your engine. Replacing a clogged air filter can improve fuel economy by as much as 10 percent while helping to protect your engine.
Avoid Rush Hour or Traffic Jam Hotspots
If you can travel outside of peak times and avoid known areas of heavy traffic, you’ll spend less time stuck in queues and slow-moving traffic, thus consuming less fuel.
Think ahead when driving. For example, slow down early to let red traffic lights change to green, rather than stopping completely. Also, speed up a little before reaching the start of a hill and then allow the vehicle’s momentum to carry the vehicle up the hill without working the engine harder.
When drivers are not calm, they are more likely to make judgement errors. Fuel efficiency is all about smoothness. Judgement and keeping calm is absolutely crucial to achieving fuel economy.
Use Handbrakes on Slopes
Some motorists do not use the handbrake when stopping their vehicle on a slope. Instead, they either partially disengage the clutch (on manual transmission vehicles), or use the accelerator (on automatic vehicles), to keep the vehicles from rolling back. Both actions use fuel unnecessarily.