Avoid unnecessary idling

Except when driving in traffic, turn off your vehicle when waiting for extended periods of time (turn on the radio; chill to music rather than the air conditioner!).

Drive at moderate speeds on the highway

The US Environmental Protection Agency estimates that an increase in speed from 110 to 125 km/h burns 15 per cent more fuel; a decrease in speed from 110 to 90 km/h uses 15 per cent less fuel. To achieve the latter, try using an alternative, two-lane highway route on longer trips. An added bonus is that two-lane highways are often less travelled, more scenic, and can be more enjoyable to drive than superhighways.

Consider a block heater in winter

Set it to turn on two hours before you plan to use the car. You’ll find the interior of your car will warm up very quickly after you start the engine, eliminating the need for an auto-starter and saving fuel.

Maintain proper tire pressure

According to the Rubber Association of Canada, under-inflated tires can add another one-to-three per cent to your fuel costs (or three weeks worth of driving per year). Check your tire pressure monthly. Do so when the tires are cold (before driving, in other words), and set them to the factory recommended pressure. You can find the correct pressure in the vehicle’s operating manual, or on the plate on the door jamb. Note that the correct pressure for your car IS NOT the maximum pressure identified on the tire.

Engine condition and air filter

Keep your vehicle’s engine in good condition. A key component is the air filter, an inexpensive part that can increase fuel consumption by up to 10 per cent if clogged. It’s a simple fix.

It turns out, though, that “fuel efficient” driving in the city is often hard to practice. Too many stop signs and uncoordinated traffic lights mean that you’re continuously stopping and starting (increasing the load on the engine). More traffic circles at intersections would help, so you don’t always have to stop. And wouldn’t it be great if the lights would reliably turn green as you approach them?

But you can sometimes time your arrival at a green light. If you see a red light a few blocks ahead, and it’s safe to do so, simply take your foot off the gas and begin a slow deceleration. Often the light will have turned green by the time you arrive, obviating the need to come to a full stop.

At Autos.ca, we’ve found that a fuel efficient driving style can save money, and won’t significantly delay you. It’s also a stress reducer, so there’s an added bonus.

We challenge you to adopt a fuel efficient driving style. We’re certain you’ll see results.




About Paul Williams

Paul Williams is an Ottawa-based freelance automotive writer and senior writer for Autos. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).