Latest news has it that the possibility of a P60/liter unleaded gas price is high and we all know this is not good news. Not everyone knows, however, that there are more ways than one to beat this almost unstoppable fuel price hike. For example, parking the car longer than before – that is, use it less by carpooling or taking public transportation. Switching to more fuel-efficient cars such as newer models or the more expensive hybrids is also an option that other lucky individuals might have. Or lastly, and the most practical, is becoming more aware of things most of us used to ignore yet could actually affect how one can make fewer trips to the gas station. To achieve this last alternative, I now offer my top 5 tips to beat the fuel price hike:
The lesser pullback, the better. Whether one comes from a full stop or shifting gears from second to third, that feeling of being pulled back to the car seat during acceleration is a sign that the car (and driver) is exerting too much effort which translates to inefficient use of fuel. To avoid this, keep in mind the simple tip I’ve read years ago: imagine an egg is underneath the gas pedal – step on it as light possible as a centimeter-deep (or even less) depression of the gas pedal is already enough to pump gas necessary to keep the car rolling. Always remember that in daily commute, pedal to the metal isn’t the way to go.
Don’t get squeezed. The exact opposite of acceleration is deceleration but the effect is somehow similar which is demonstrated during braking. Any driver has likely experienced that feeling of being squeezed by the seatbelt (assuming he wears one) after applying the brake hard. Hard stoppage means “aborted” use of fuel and this is because gas that was pumped into the engine’s cylinder is supposed to make the car travel at a particular distance and by braking hard the dispensed fuel’s purpose is suppressed and wasted–unless the car has KERS or Kinetic Energy Recovery System such as one that is used by Formula 1 cars and hybrid automobiles.
Avoid leaning hard sideways. Drivers executing a turn or maneuvering curved roads use a combination of the brake and gas pedal to control the car so both tip numbers 1 and 2 above apply in this scenario. In curved roads, the driver will experience countering centripetal force by leaning sideways at an apex. The harder one leans to one side, the likelihood of fuel wastage is high. To achieve a smoother drive, anticipating the curve is important as well as knowing when to brake and to accelerate. In normal condition, brake (as gently as possible) before entry to the curve (and/or switch to lower gear for better traction during the turn) and then accelerate upon exit.
Gravity is your friend (and foe). Navigating through a downhill is an opportunity to save gas as this is when it is less stressful to the engine. Be aware, however, that turning the engine off (or even coasting) is a big no- no – for most cars, a turned off engine means zero vacuum which in turn disables the brake master and power steering. Go figure. Going up is of course more demanding to the car’s power source and it would be helpful if its load is lessened. If possible, turn the air conditioner off when driving uphill.
Too cold isn’t cool. Speaking of air conditioners, one should use this wisely and sparingly when driving. A car that is too cold uses more fuel than it is supposed to be and that is why thermostats control knobs are there20 – lower the temperature whenever possible. One should also read their car owner’s manual to learn how the fan vents settings work to optimize the temperature inside the car especially if only the driver is inside.
The tips I have listed here, by the way, are with the assumption that the car is in good condition and keep in mind never to compromise safety over savings: ensure that car is maintained regularly, brake hard if needed, and follow the speed limits all the time. Drive safely everyone!
Mood: 6/10 Honks! (Writing to relieve the 2nd week of anxiety. Wifey still not well.)