Before all the brouha-ha about petrol prices, I was into fuel-saving for environmental reasons. I don't like it when those multi-millionaire Hollywood stars talk about saving the environment by buying themselves "environmentally friendly" electric cars, soy-oil-converted, hybrid thingy. Easy to say when you have the mega-millions. Believe me, those mega-stars pollute the environment in mega-ways with their mega-extravagant lifestyles.
I found many fuel-saving tips but most of them don't have the tried-and-tested true accounts from real drivers. Annoyingly, there are people out there who only copy and paste these kinds of info onto their blogs without really verifying the contents.
Anyway, these are mine. Tried and tested. Any questions, you may refer to me.
1. Fill up the tank slowly and really really slowly. Tried this and even with disastrous result once (read it here). A colleague gave me this advice a few years ago though I wasn't quite convinced. Reason being the higher speed the fuel flows out, the more it turns into vapour and vanish into the air leaving you with running metres at the fill-up station but less of actual petrol in liquid form. I tried it but I don't find the savings that much significant. OK. I did the incredibly slow manual fill-up (holding the trigger with my fingers) with a full tank worth MYR82. I used the minimum trigger notch and left it there for a full tank of MYR85. So, MYR3 huh? About a litre difference. Problem is you have to know ALL the stations in your area to identify which one has "user friendly nozzles". Or else you'll end up like my Niagara Fuel incident.
2. Switch off the Aircond when stopping at the traffic light and when going uphill and of course in the evening. Tell anybody from a tropical country who advises you to drive minus Aircond to get real! It's freaking HOT here. It's not like you can drive on the highway all the time. Most of us drive through the city with traffic lights, buses, trailers, schoolkids and all. Hey, does this reveal a lot about the age of the car I'm driving? New technology from car manufacturers automatically detects going uphill and stopping and switches off the aircond accordingly. At least that's what I understand about Toyota's claim about their VVTi range.
3. Myth on driving with the windows down to save on Aircond eating up the fuel. Driving with the windows down actually disturbs the aero-dynamics of the car so it's better to drive with the Aircond on. Did anybody watch this on Mythbusters Discovery Channel? However, I think the theory only works if you're driving at a constant speed like on the highway. Daily driving is between 40kmph to 80kmph through stops and lotsa stops with low gears on heavy rotation. Switching off the Aircond can save a lot here because with 40kmph, you may just drive in a box, cube or pyramid for all we care. That's "Zero-dynamics" if you ask me.
4. Install a magnetic device at your fuel-flow system. It supposedly pulls away impurities in the fuel so it will flow smoothly. That's the way to explain it in layman's term. Please note that I'm talking about tips I use for real not tips that sure-fire work. Saw and Ad on the Internet about this device and called the dealer. Got it installed with the mechanic raving about it and how he spent only MYR40+ on petrol for his 1.8 Citroen going from Melaka to KL and back. Really? That's the old price of MYR1.92 btw. Anyway, I filled up to full tank afterwards and I think it saved about 10% at most. I was hoping for 40%. Dream on!
5. Free the gear when going downhill. OK. This is only applicable to those driving manual cars like me. Haha.....! This is for skillful drivers only. They would NEVER teach this in driving schools. I just loooove the feeling of the car going "free fall" when I go downhill gear-free. Exhilarating! People who get into accidents are either drunk, have bad visions or simply can't drive. I free the gears when I'm approaching a stop too. Just slow the car down with the brakes. After all, that's what brakes are for! Besides, a pair of good brake shoes costs less than a full tank of petrol nowadays.
6. Fill up in the morning when the ground is still cold. Reason is high temperature causes vapour just like the speedy fill-up phenomenon. I can't really verify this one because I happen to fill up only in the morning or in the evening or maybe very very very late noon like the Sunset time. I leave for work around 7am and reach home around 7pm++. In a tropical country where seasons don't change, that's early morning and early evening like everyday forever. But since we're talking about fuel, I choose to believe this because anyone who doesn't know about petrol being temperature-sensitive needs to get into that show "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?".
6. Try different Brands! Are you a Malaysian? I switched from Petronas to Shell when they advertised about the extra miles. Yes, I did get extra miles. Where Petronas gave me 5 days for a full tank, Shell gave me 6 days. Then, Petronas came up with Primax 3. I tried it and it gave me at least 30km more with a full tank compared to Shell. So, I switched back to Petronas with Primax 3 and have been telling people about it since.
7. Ensure your tyres are properly inflated. I drive everyday. Before, I inflated my tyres with air and by the fifth day, the pressure in the rear left tyre would drop significantly dragging the car's speed. Now, I use Nitrogen gas pumped in by the mechanic at a local tyre workshop. Hey, Formula 1 racing cars use this gas to cool down tyres. It's crucial for them to maintain the pressure in those tyres. Otherwise, it will expose the drivers to track gripping instability. Anyway, you'll use more fuel to accelerate your car if your tyres are below the optimum pressure. With the Nitrogen gas, you can maintain the optimum pressure longer up to 3 months or even 6 months for depending on your driving frequency. I get mine checked every 3 months. The Nitrogen certainly stretches the life span of my tyres. That's another saving.
Lastly, the King.......................!
8. Most, most, most importantly................TUNE UP your engine regularly. Hey, fuel-saving tips above are nothing if you don't bother tuning up your engine. Come on, how long can you brand new engine's performance last? Properly tuned-up engine gives more pick-up power when accelerating or going uphill resulting you using less fuel because you don't have to press on the accelerator too much. I got my engine tuned-up about 3 weeks ago. Before, with a full tank of about 30litres of fuel on a 1.0cc engine only took me minimum 430km with a Petronas Primax 3 and sometimes 450km depending on the driving conditions. With a tuned-up engine, I managed to stretch the distance up to 500km with Petronas Primas 3 in my trusty old Daihatsu Charade Aura. Hey, compared to other fuel-saving tips, this one is THE KING!