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There are many ways to stay on a planned budget and increase the value of your dollar – clipping out coupons or waiting for store sales and discounts are very popular for this purpose. But, not everything goes on sale. Fuel is one of them. Yes, in these recession times, most auto dealers offer various car models at discounted rate or low interest rate packages, but paying less for a vehicle will not minimise your fuel cost (unless you purchase a hybrid model). Fuel prices are constantly fluctuating depending on the availability and so will your monthly expenses. To reduce the impact that fuel price has on your wallet, you will need to modify and change your driving habits. Here are several tips on how to increase the fuel efficiency of your vehicle when driving and save money.
Regardless of the type of your vehicle, small passenger car or a big SUV, reducing the load in your trunk can significantly decrease your car fuel efficiency. The weight of the vehicle is one of the most important factors which has great impact on the fuel consumption, and is one of the easiest to address. Therefore, organise your car and remove anything you do not use on a daily basis such as winter equipment, kids bicycles, various tools, etc. Also, the number of passengers and even the driver’s weight affects the fuel consumption.
Idling causes not only air pollution, but also reduces fuel economy. If you are in a traffic jam or parked and waiting for a friend, family member or a spouse, it is best to turn off idling engine. In fact, it is recommended to turn off the engine every time you you’re waiting parked for more than 30 seconds. Also, and this is a common misconception, especially during winter, you do not need to “warm up” the engine before driving. Your car unnecessarily wastes fuel. Instead, drive your car to warm it up and increase the fuel efficiency.
The weight and idling are not only culprits to increased fuel consumption; worn tires can also significantly reduce the fuel efficiency of your car. Proper tire maintenance is a key to an optimal fuel economy. Make sure they are properly inflated and inspect for any cracks, blisters or uneven wear. Also, using appropriate tires for every season. Do not use summer tires during winter and vice versa. or simply buy all-season tires. Tires support the whole vehicle as well as engine, thus proper tires and regular maintenance will ensure greater fuel economy.
Aside from reducing safety risks, driving responsibly can significantly impact the fuel consumption. Therefore, do not drive over the speed limit. Increasing the speed from 90 km/h to 120 km/h will increase the fuel consumption as well. Also, avoid aggressive driving. The so called “jackrabbit” start and hard braking can also result in higher fuel consumption.
Make sure you always drive in the right gear. When driving in a lower gear, the engine uses more fuel. The same is true when driving in top gear up the hill or when approaching sharp curves on the road. If your vehicles have manual transmission, change the gear as soon as possible, but avoid accelerating too quickly. The automatic transmission changes gears more smoothly and quicker.
The air conditioning system also has significant impact on the fuel consumption, especially when idling in a traffic jam. Once the air in the vehicle has cooled enough, use the fan feature instead of the air conditioning system to reduce the fuel consumption. When driving at lower speed, open the windows instead of using the air conditioning system to save fuel.
If your current car has poor fuel efficiency, it may be more reasonable to consider purchasing a new one with a better fuel economy. Although this may seem an expensive thing to do, the long term savings will outweigh the short term investment and costs.
‘Cheaper than walking‘ was the slogan for the Peel P50 back in 1960s, when it was and today it still is the world’s smallest car ever to go into production.
The quest for a more fuel efficient vehicle has led companies to produce smaller and smaller car models, such as the Toyota iQ, the Tata Nano and Volkswagen up! However, all these cars look like giants compared next to the Peel P50. Measuring just 137 cm in length and 104 cm in width, you won’t have trouble finding a parking space for this car, or better yet – bringing it into the office with you, as BBC’s Jeremy Clarkson famously did in an episode of Top Gear.
The P50 was originally produced by the Peel Engineering company on the British Isle of Man from 1962 to 1965. Each car was handmade and only 50 of them have ever seen the light of day. It is a three wheeled car with only one door, one seat, one headlight and one windscreen wiper. It was marketed as a car that could carry one person and a shopping bag, and it could barely hold that much, weighing just less than 60 kg. The engine is in the cabin alongside the driver, with a three speed manual transmission and no reverse gear. Its top speed goes up to 61 km/h and it was priced at $315. Though lacking in some areas like safety, speed and manoeuvrability, owners have claimed consumption of 2.8l/100 km which makes the Peel P50 a credible replacement for walking.
Good news for the lovers of micro-cars. The model has been resurrected by the new Peel Engineering company in 2010 together with its slightly bigger brother – the Peel Trident, which has two seats and a pod-like futuristic sunroof.
The new P50 will be slightly modernised, with both gas and electric version, and it will come with a price tag of $16.000 – not quite cheaper than walking even by today’s standards. In comparison, the original P50 would have cost $2.200 in today’s money. The car will be in limited production, so if you want something eccentric that you can drive to your office as well as inside it, you can make your reservation on the company’s website www.peelengineering.co.uk
Choosing a “greener” car has a direct financial and environmental benefit for you as well as for Australia’s future generations. Buying a more fuel efficient vehicle might be a bigger financial investment at first, but down the road it can save you thousands of dollars on fuel bills. You need to consider all of your transportation requirements and choose a model that best meets your needs. Larger cars and those with bigger engines often consume more fuel.
The greenest car on the Australian roads is the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, topping the Green Vehicle Guide rankings ahead of the Toyota Prius. It runs entirely on battery power which is renewed from an electricity socket. It doesn’t even have an exhaust pipe. However, this car might not be for everyone. It has a tiny body with less than ideal safety rankings and it might not be suitable for longer drives. Following closely on fuel-economy in the entire electric cars category are the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Roadster.
If you mainly drive within the city a hybrid-electric car might best suit your needs. They have a conventional engine plus an electric motor. When you press the brakes the car harnesses the energy and feeds it to the battery of the electric motor. The most fuel-efficient model in this category is the Toyota Prius.
If you mainly drive on the highway a new generation turbo-diesel might better suit your needs. Even though diesel cars emit more nitrous oxide and particulate matter (PM), better fuel-efficiency compensates for the demerits. The Volkswagen Passat Diesel leads the pack in this category as the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid for highway drive.
When it comes to fuel efficiency and greenhouse gases emission, the car industry is getting better and better. Or should we say greener and greener.
The automotive industry is at an early stage of radical changes. As the consciousness about the environmental impact of cars increases, the automotive industry is rapidly changing and introducing efficiency improvements to most new vehicle models. Hybrid cars are common these days and electric cars are starting to emerge on the market. Manufacturers are also introducing efficiency improvements to internal combustion and diesel engines.
Even though a fuel consumption rate of 7-9 litres per 100 km is considered good, some of the latest fuel efficient models are achieving results better than 4 litres per 100km.
There is more than one incentive to the increased focus on lowering fuel consumption. On the long term, the price of oil is expected to rise, as the world’s oil reserves are running low. The growing concern of people for the environment has raised public awareness and governments demand increasing the fuel economy standards. Less fuel burnt per kilometre means less exhaust emissions and less harm on the environment.
In Australia, the growth of road transport has led to an increase in fuel consumption and consequently an increase in greenhouse gases emission, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide and methane, which are linked to the type and amount of fuel used. Greenhouse gas emissions have been increasing at a rate of 1.7% per year since 1990.
For Australia’s official emission ratings and fuel economy on the top performing vehicles please visit the Green Vehicle Guide Website.
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