How to deal with rising fuel prices by improving your car’s fuel efficiency?

Times Drive Podcast - Episode 3

Times Drive Podcast – Episode 3

To explain this, I have a story from my personal experience where I got about 70-80% more mileage than was tested for the hatchback I was driving. Through this story, I have prepared some tips that I also used on the album. These can make your car more fuel efficient in everyday driving.
This story is in a mileage race. Many manufacturers do mileage tours where automotive journalists like me go and test drive their cars or bikes. However, these races are not so common anymore. In these races, we would try to achieve as much fuel efficiency as possible, and this would encourage a friendly competition between the journalists to see who drives the most sensible and fuel efficient way. Most of the time during testing, our fuel efficiency is pretty low because we’re pushing the vehicles to the limit.
There was one such event that was held for the old Hyundai i10 or for the Grand i10 when it was new, I don’t remember. This time I wanted to be honest and be as fuel efficient as possible to share with the viewers. I had this conviction because while filming mileage runs, sometimes we would be too busy capturing the vehicle if it were brand new. This meant that we couldn’t give our 100% to get the best fuel economy, and we would always lose out in such challenges. However, this time I thought that the TV guys should be taken more seriously, and I would drive more seriously to achieve the best possible fuel efficiency, and for this we made a lot of preparations. All cars had to start with a full tank of fuel. You may have seen that every time we test fuel economy on cars, or you do on your cars, we fill our tanks and drive and then come back to fill our tank again. The rest of the fuel is what tells us the fuel efficiency. Having a full tank of fuel also reduces fuel economy because more fuel means more weight.

We filled the car up pretty honestly, and we did it on a ramp so that one side of the car was higher than the other so we could load as much fuel as possible. He didn’t want a single drop of fuel to go to waste.

Tire pressure: –

If your car’s tire pressure is low, that will have a negative effect on fuel efficiency. We knew this, so we made sure the pressures were as recommended by the manufacturer.

Car maintenance:-

A car must be well maintained and repaired. If it is not maintained or serviced and there are engine problems or failures then it would not be as fuel efficient. Here, however, we had a new car, so we didn’t have to worry. Although if your car is old and not maintained or serviced, there will be a drop in fuel efficiency.

If not needed, turn off the AC: –

When we start the car, we turn off the air conditioning. Yes, it was hot, around May or June, I’m not too sure, but like I said, I was very committed and my conviction was very high, so I turned off the air conditioning.

Roll up the windows: –

I closed the windows. There are times when car manufacturers claim that their car is more aerodynamic. What does this mean? Well, when you’re running you feel like the air is slowing you down, so imagine what a car feels like at the speeds it’s traveling. Aerodynamic efficiency has to do with how you reduce that air resistance. If the resistance is less, then there will be less pressure on the motor. I closed the windows, so that the drag caused is reduced. I don’t know if it was reduced by 1% or 0.1%, but I took all the measurements as I said. To help with the aerodynamics we took another step that was fun, and I’ll tell you about it later.

Weight control: –

Now, my height is 6 foot 3, and at that time I must have weighed 1 quintal. With me he had to have another colleague. Usually, the video journalist would sit, but this time, since I was very heavy, I had the camera assistant sit with me because he was quite skinny. Here’s a tip for you, if you check your car, there may be unwanted things inside that add weight. The additional weight would reduce fuel efficiency.

Turn off your engine at idle:-

Sometimes we leave our cars idling, especially if it’s cold. Even I do that to warm up the car. This is bad for efficiency. Reminding everyone again, if you leave your fuel idling it keeps burning for no reason. You can buy a car with auto stop and start, and that can be very helpful.

Driving: –

There is a tip for you, but it wasn’t necessary for me because we all had to follow a set route. The distance was also fixed so that we didn’t have to plan a route. Although if you are traveling, plan your route because it can have a good effect on fuel efficiency, especially if you plan your daily route. Nowadays, there are many options in terms of maps, so you can keep things more organized and have a more fuel efficient trip. In my case this was not applicable because we were told to drive 60 km round trip, and the average of 120 km decided the winner.

Avoid sudden acceleration: –

We’ve already talked about idling, and I think the biggest role after this that decides the fuel efficiency of a car or bike is acceleration. Accelerating harshly or applying the throttle too soon or accelerating too suddenly will reduce your fuel efficiency. So be very kind if you want a fuel efficient car. You want to be a smooth driver, treat the throttle with love. I’m not saying you shouldn’t use it, but whenever you use it there shouldn’t be a sudden jerk, so the engine runs optimally and stays fuel efficient.

Being in the optimal rpm range: –

I was very careful with the rpm, I drove between 1,500 and 1,600 rpm, so that there is less load on the engine and my rpm is not high. To do this, when you gain momentum, and from the noise you can feel that a gear change is necessary, change gear immediately. We were in a high gear, there was less load on the engine and progress was smooth. I was driving in the “economy” rpm range and was very careful.

Now, let’s get to the fun part. We were all trying things out with each other, and that was to improve aerodynamics and reduce drag – we were following our fellow automotive journalists to reduce the air pressure or wind in our car for better fuel efficiency. You can understand the level of engagement because of how we were looking at the minute details. Why? Because here we all drove in the slow lane. I don’t think anyone has crossed 35-40 kph. Only one fellow journalist made it because he missed the U-turn to go back to Mumbai and almost made it to Jaipur. So, on his way back, he stepped out of the car and stomped on the pedal. We do not ask about the efficiency of it.

Going back to my story, we were driving 30-35 km/h, maybe 40 at times. We drove very slowly and whenever there was an opportunity we followed the car in front as closely as possible to reduce drag.

In the heat of Delhi, no air conditioning, windows closed, but we were still laughing because we were so sure of doubling the fuel efficiency. There were a few more tricks in this challenge, but I wouldn’t recommend them if you’re thinking of doing them. Glide while descending mountains or overpasses. A journalist turned off his car as he got there. In that scenario, his power brakes wouldn’t work, so it’s not safe and don’t do it. Coasting is when you are not accelerating and just letting the car move with the momentum. It should be avoided because it is not safe for other travelers, and you are blocking the road because you are traveling below average speed while coasting.

That hot afternoon we returned after our 120 km journey. At the gas station we again made sure that no fuel was wasted because that would ruin the average, and after that came the result which was really exciting. We were all very happy. I’m not sure, and can’t find it because it’s been a few years, but I did win a small Philips MP3 player that was available at the time. I won the second prize because the fuel efficiency was, on a liter of fuel, 32.8 kms. I’m not too sure, but this was the range.

So, this was the story of my mileage challenge. In this story there were also tips on how to make your car more fuel efficient. I hope you liked the story and found the tips useful.

(This is a transcript of the Podcast video)

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