Mileage Tips: How to maximize fuel economy of your car to beat the petrol price hike
In life, there are some things that we can change and others which are best left as they stand currently. Petrol price hikes fall into the latter category. When India marched into economic reform mode in the early nineties, the uncomfortable socialism that the nation lived in for a better part of 4 decades soon fell into the throes of socio-capitalism of which the latter part acquired much more prominence.
Like everything around us being linked to the free market and its diktats, increasing petrol prices too are a price we have to pay for the economic development that is happening around us due to a rapidly liberalizing economy. In this light, crying hoarse about every petrol price hike only to resignedly accept the change in prices soon after has become a regular affair.
A leading economist even remarked that the path of liberalization India and her citizens have chosen means that global price alignment of fuel need to be obeyed as a small price to pay for all the economic prosperity that allows you and me to buy a car or a motorcycle in the first place. While it is true that a large component making up petrol prices in India consist of various levies that the central and state government imposes, protesting against the hike does have its own merit.
But, since protestations and governmental policies are best left to our parliamentarians and activists like Anna Hazare, let’s focus on how you can reduce your petrol bill and beat the petrol price hike by adopting some simple measures.If you own a two wheeler, you must first read this post that we published a while ago to extract the best mileage. For cars though, we’ll give you a comprehensive low down on how to beat the latest hike in petrol prices. Many of these tips hold good for two wheelers as well.
Maintain your vehicle in top shape!
First of all, a well maintained vehicle will perform better than a badly maintained vehicle and that applies to fuel economy as well. If you have not been changing your oil or servicing your vehicle at the prescribed intervals, time to kick that habit and do so right now as a happy engine is a frugal engine. Also, optimum tyre pressures and proper wheel alignment are what you need to focus on to ensure best mileage as wrong tyre pressures and improper wheel alignment by itself can reduce your mileage by 10-20%. And that figure is much more than the latest petrol price hike.
Car pool is cool!
You might not like your boss, but you might like his newly joined cute secretary, better still if she live just on the route you take to office everyday. Car pool and you can save a bunch of money and also develop great friendships. On a more serious note, car pooling is great idea now that the Indian cities are vehicle clogged to their limits. Lesser number of cars and for that matter even two wheelers on the roads means lesser traffic and thus you can reach much faster if more folks adopt car and bike pooling as a way of life. Not to mention the fact that even traffic jams are bearable if you have good company in the car.
The art of coasting!
While it is fun to accelerate furiously like you’re Fernando Alonso at every traffic light only to brake equally harder at the next traffic light which arrives quicker than you can actually put pedal to metal, this type of driving is simply the most inefficient type. Yet, you’ll find that half of India including you’re neighbor’s 70 year old grandmother driving like this. Try the art of coasting and lo and behold, you can improve you;re mileage by 10% straightaway. Coasting basically involves using the car’s momentum and engine braking(in case of down slopes) to slow down rather than braking hard at every signal.
You accelerate gently from signal to signal keeping the rpm needle at the zone of maximum torque and once you see a red light you gently take your foot off the accelerator pedal to glide to a stop rather than use the clutch and the brake to come to a stop from a high speed. On cooler nights, switching off your AC and driving with the windows rolled down a little to allow fresh air to come in if you’re speeds are under 60 kph would be a good idea. Also avoid keeping the windows rolled down if you’re speeds in excess of 80 Kph as that would create additional drag in the car and increase fuel consumption.
Gentle driving will not only help you save fuel but will also help you stay much safer as you will get more time to react in case of an emergency on the road. Gentle driving involves measured and gentle inputs to the accelerator, upshifting at the right rpms, minimizing brake and clutch usage, coasting to a stop and switching off your car’s engine if you anticipate being stationary for more than minute.
On the highways, try and maintain a constant speed of 80-100 Kph for maximum economywith air conditioning on and the windows rolled up. Avoid sharp overtaking maneuvers. Instead plan overtaking maneuvers well in advance. The other big advantages of gentle driving is that you will save on maintenance costs. For instance, brake pads on gently driven cars will last much longer than those in cars which are driven hard. So, get the drift?
Filling up from good petrol bunks!
Many owners’ complaints of poor mileage can be traced back to suspect petrol bunks who have mastered the art of swindling customers to make a quick buck. So, finding a reputable petrol bunk would be a good idea. Also tanking up early in the morning when the density of fuel is maximum will mean that you can squeeze in a couple of liters more than what you’re car maker says is the maximum capacity of the tank. This will let you go that extra few kilometers longer and minimize you’re trips to the petrol bunk in the longer run.
Avoid car usage for short trips. Instead, invest in a bicycle!
Short trips like a 2 km drive around town to buy groceries isn’t exactly what you should be doing if you plan to save a bunch of money through fuel savings. Invest in a good bicycle for running short errands, preferably a steel framed one costing under INR 10,000. What a bicycle will do is, it will help you stay fit and also ensure that you save some more money which you would have spent as fancy gym membership charges.
Like Lance Armstrong says in this book, “It’s not about the bike” , there’s something fundamental about two wheels, a crank and muscle power to move. Even as you’re reading this, many people in India have jumped on to the bicycle bandwagon and have gotten hooked like never before. You could be next and by the way, read that book, it’s a very inspirational read.
LPG/CNG kit conversion!
Alright this is a much debated and deliberated topic. CNG/LPG being much cheaper than petrol means huge cost savings for you, the car owner. To put it in a nutshell, converting your petrol car into LPG or CNG means that you’re engine will definitely suffer higher wear and tear when compared to a stock vehicle. For instance, if you’re petrol car would have lasted you 1,50,000 kms before an engine overhaul, conversion into LPG/CNG could reduce that figure to around 1,20,000 kms.
So, if you plan to drive yo’re car at least 50,000-80,000 kms and then sell it off, then converting into LPG/CNG would be a good option. Or else, you’re better off sticking to petrol. So, that wraps up the few ways through which you can beat the petrol price hike and do so quite comprehensively while even managing to save a bunch of money by tweaking you’re driving habits to favour maximum economy. Thanks for stopping by!