Fuel consumption and fuel efficiency are factors that most of us consider when purchasing a vehicle. But did you know that there are several factors that influence how fuel efficient a vehicle is?

Regardless of the fuel efficiency rating that a vehicle comes with, there are also things you can do to improve the average fuel economy by year of your car.

Let’s look at some of these fuel economy tips here.

Factors that make a car use more fuel than normal

Fuel use is influenced by two things: the features of the vehicle and how the vehicle is used/driven.

Factors that make a car use more fuel include:

  • Not regularly servicing your car – if the tyres, engine, engine oil, and other key components aren’t looked after and regularly serviced, your car will use more fuel than necessary.
  • Poor quality fuel or oil – it’s crucial that you use the correct type of fluids and fuel for your vehicle – those recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Not changing your oil as required – the simple oil change is more important than you think. If you notice your fuel consumption changing, take a look at when you last changed your oil.
  • Over-speeding or aggressive driving – your day-to-day car is not a drag car, so don’t drive it like one. Excessive speed and sudden acceleration/deceleration will force the engine to work in a way it’s not designed to.
  • Driving in the wrong gear – this puts unnecessary strain on the engine, which causes it to work harder than it should, using more fuel than necessary.
  • Old or worn tyres – even if your tyres are still legally road-worthy, if they’re coming to the end of their tread life, you may find that your fuel economy changes with older tyres.
  • Using the air conditioning – yes, using the air con does affect your fuel use, as the engine (which uses the fuel) provides the energy that is required to carry the cool air con gas into the cabin of the vehicle.

Do bigger engines use more fuel?

Generally speaking, yes, larger engines use more fuel. As we’ve seen above, however, there are so many other factors that influence the fuel economy of a vehicle. So let’s not assume that all large engines are inefficient or bad.

The thing to keep in mind is the size of engine that you need for your type of driving. If you’re going to do a lot of long-distance driving and/or you want to tow a boat or trailer, a vehicle with a larger engine is probably better for you.

If you mainly do short trips, urban driving or a lot of stop/start driving, then having a vehicle with a smaller engine may be a great fuel economy tip for you.

Does using the aircon use more fuel?

Because there is extra load on the engine when the air conditioning is on, the engine uses more energy, which can contribute in a small way to greater fuel usage.

Some estimates say that using the air conditioning can increase fuel consumption by as much as 10%.

On the other hand, driving with the windows down can also lead to extra fuel use – especially at higher speeds. That’s because having the windows down creates drag, which also causes the engine to work hard.

Why are manual cars more fuel efficient? 

The jury is out on this one. Some people believe that cars with manual transmission use less fuel because the engine doesn’t have to work as hard to change the gears.

Other people claim that automatic cars are more fuel efficient. It’s difficult to compare the two as we must also factor in the age and condition of the vehicle if we’re going to do a like-for-like comparison. Manual and automatic vehicles are also often driven in different conditions, so it’s hard to make a definitive claim here.

It’s worth mentioning again … there are several factors that affect the fuel economy of a vehicle.

How to make a car more fuel efficient? 

There are a few simple things you can do to make a car more fuel efficient:

  • Have your car serviced regularly – this will help ensure that the engine is working optimally, the wheels and tyres are at their best, and that there are no issues with other components that may affect fuel efficiency, such as the air filters, oxygen sensors, fuel injectors, spark plugs, etc.
  • Use the correct fuel and fluids – don’t try to save money by using 91 octane if your manufacturer recommends 95. And make sure all the fluids are topped up and/or changed as required. As well as fuel and oil, your vehicle depends on several different types of fluids – transmission fluid, coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid – so be sure to have them all regularly checked.
  • Change your oil as required – it’s important to check the level of your oil (ensuring there is enough) as well as changing the oil as needed (when new, clean oil is required). You need to know what type of oil your vehicle requires, and how often it needs changing.
  • Drive sensibly – the simple acts of driving to the speed limit, avoiding sudden stops and starts, and driving in the correct gear can all be easy to maintain fuel economy tips for your car.
  • Check and maintain your tyres – another relatively easy way to increase fuel efficiency is by rotating your tyres as needed, having regular wheel alignments, and checking the tread and pressure of your tyres.
  • Intentional use of the air conditioning – even if using the air con does cause your car to use a bit more fuel, it’s possibly still better than driving with all the windows open (which can increase drag and also increase fuel consumption). We prefer “intentional” use of the air con because all too often we hear of people who turn on the air con AND open the windows. That’s a definite no-no in terms of trying to save fuel.

If you have any concerns about the fuel efficiency of your car, or you want to know more fuel economy tips based on your specific vehicle or driving habits, please get in touch with the friendly team at Mt Roskill Collision Centre. We’re here to help and to keep you safe on the road.

Give us a call on 0800 227 762 and we can discuss with you the next best steps.