Wednesday, September 3, 2008

How to get more KMs out of your car (Pt 2)

Hi again... hope you found yesterday's tips useful. As promised, today we continue on the 2nd and final part of the tips.

  • Tip #4 - Beware the bling - Bro / Girl, if you gotta pimp your ride, then forget about fuel economy. The power amps you use to drive those huge sub-woofers and speekers draw a lot of current... and current comes from the alternator (i.e. dynamo) which draws power from your engine... and yes, hits your fuel economy. LCDs and all your multimedia gadgetry look great for your ICE but adds more weight for your car to carry.

  • Tip #5 - Plan your trip - Short trips with loads of start-stop situations burn up fuel unnecessarily. Putting some thought to where you are going, when and how makes a difference. You not only save on fuel, you'll see your blood pressure lowering too!

  1. Is your 'usual' route the most efficient route? In the past you may have avoided the shortest way because you had to pay toll. Now, relative to the fuel increase, would it be cheaper to just fork out the dough than to be stuck burning fuel in a crawl for another 20 mins?

  2. Must you go at that time of the day? Would going earlier or postponing it to a non-rush window be possible? What can you juggle around to make that happen?

  3. Combine your multiple runs to the nearby sundry store or for your errands.... make a list of stuff and just go there once for all the things you need. Once you get into the hang of it, you'll find yourself being more proactive instead of leaving it till you're at your last teaspoon of sugar before you make that mad dash to the minimart. Then you get home and you realize actually you needed some soy sauce too!! 'AARGH!??!' right?

  4. Read the map before you get on the car. Have a mental picture of where you want to go first, then drive. Stopping by the road and figuring out your route is not only fuel inefficient, its dangerous!!!

  • Tip#6 - Beware your habit - Some of the pefectly innocent habits we have actually cost os money. Changing them doesn't cost a cent but helps reduce your fuel consumption.
  1. Air conditioning -- Mow many of you have the settings at full blast by default? Achieving the maximum cooling in the shortest time is one thing... but maintaining it there throughout the journey is the real fuel killer. But if you really *must* have it at the higher setting just to feel cool... you might want to have the air-cond guy look at it to be sure its running properly.

  2. Waiting -- Make a trip to Damansara Uptown or Taipan or any busy commercial area, and you'll see plenty of people waiting patiently in their car. The engine would be running and of course so is the aircond. Every litre of fuel burnt in that manner does ZERO to your fuel efficiency. Instead, switch off, get out of the car and find a nearby shady spot to wait.

  3. Parking -- We all love to be able to park right at the mall entrance... but at what cost? Lots of us are willing to sacrifice a lot of fuel to wait for someone to vacate a spot. Instead, park somewhere further and walk. You're not just doing your pocket a favour, you're helping reduce greenhouse gases... you're helping save the world!

  4. Checking -- Our standard procedure is to start the engine the moment we get in. Deos it matter that we actually still need to fasten seatbelts, look 3 times in the vanity mirror, adjust our clothes, put on makeup, holler at the kids at the back first? How about if did all of that first, then switch on the engine? OK, Ok, we all want the cool comfort of the aircond when doing all of that..... right....
  • Tip #7 - Set personal targets - Go ahead, do a benchmark. See how far you're going with a full tank today. And then, tell yourself you want to get 10% more out of that tank. There's nothing like a target to motivate you to really do something. Of course you don't have to do the steps below if you dont want to. You can just get straight to hypermiling today -- but you won't know how much that is actually saving you.
  1. Have a small note pad and pencil in your car.
  2. Reset the trip meter the next time you fill up and leave that trip meter running.
  3. The next time you fill up again, not down the distance covered and the amount you have to pump in.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3.
  5. After a while, you'll have an idea how many KMs to a liter you're making. Don't worry about accuracy and the amount your pump. After a few cycles, the figures will average out.
  6. Then start hypermiling... and see what works and doesn't work for you and your fuel economy.

I'd encourage your to do more reading about this subject before starting. As a start, you can check out these links:

- Hypermiling FAQ and then, the technique
- 105 tips on eco-driving
- Whys and Hows to Hypermile (forum)

DISCLAIMER: I personally do not agree with nor recommend all the techniques taught by hypermilers. Some 'advanced' techniques (which I didn't want to cover above) can be dangerous although they do yield extra mileage.

e.g. Just so you know what to look out for...
  • Drafting -- following very closely to the car in front to piggy-back on the aerodynamic airflow
  • Pulse and Glide -- accelerate to a target speed then switching off your engine and gliding on neutral gear (and starting it back on to accelerate again once you've dropped below target)
  • Significantly over inflating the tires -- not only do you tend to lose too much grip, any bumps and potholes will be bad for your suspension and comfort
  • Forgetting that you're NOT driving alone -- Hypermiling (usually involves driving slower than others) without regard to the traffic flow can not only be annoying to other drivers, it can also be dangerous (picture yourself doing 70km/h on a 110km/h stretch)

So have fun, drive safe and start saving some $$ :)

4 commented:

Anonymous said...

Invest in a RM100 bike for the short trip down the tuck shop or diy shop. Saves petrol, environment and good for the heart.

If you are short sighted like me to get a bike without gears, then you'll do your heart a world of good climbing up hill, which in fact, turns out to have long term health benefits!

One of my colleague took the extra step to switch off his engine if he's behind a traffic light with short green time for his route.

I was tempted to do it today when I was stuck in a horrid jam on way home. But I didn't fancy risking a stalled engine in the middle of town, with drizzle and with hungry Muslim friends rushing home for buka pausa.

In the end, I suffer the indignity of getting 13 days out of my full tank, instead of my usual 14 days...

Anonymous said...

I say, there are conflicting theories that car runs better with full tank than at half tank.

Something to do with higher evaporation after half tank whilst some argue heavier weight at full tank thus burn more fuel.

What's your take in this?

Center Parted said...

Thanks for those suggestions WLE!

1) If you can ride a bike, its always a good idea to use it for short trips to the convenience store -- just as long as you stay within your Taman (housing area).

KL isn't a bike-friendly place at all, so venturing any further would be too risky.

2) I don't have any figures to support either of those theories.

But for me, I practice pumping full tanks. That's for the simple reason that I save the time and effort by not having to make that extra trip every half-tank.

Besides, its bad enough that I'm 'robbed' at the pump. Why double the agony by doubling my visits there!??! :D

sting said...

thanks for the tips :-) and you are right, the advanced ones are a bit too advanced!

read somewhere that pumping in the morning gives us "more" petrol as the petrol's cooler and has less chance of evaporating... I wonder if there's any truth in this...