How to Drive Fuel-Efficiently

In my opinion, this is a very interesting topic. Not many people think that their lead-foot can end up costing them hundreds of dollars more in fuel costs per year.

However, the way you drive can have a tremendous effect on how fuel efficient your car is, which ultimately determines how much cash you’ll fork over to keep your car running.

To tackle this topic, I am going to break it down into a simple list. These are all relevant tips that I use on my little 6-Speed Manual hatchback, and as a result, I average more than 29mpg city (even though my car is rated at 24 city).

Now, let’s get to it!

Step One: Control Your Acceleration

Let’s just say, this one is at the top of my list for a reason.

Ever gotten next to someone at a stoplight, and when it turns green, he takes off like an bat out of hell, only to get caught one block later at the next red light?

Yep. Not only does he look like a jerk, but that bad habit has a severe impact on your fuel economy.

It really is quite simple. When you accelerate, your engines RPMs skyrocket, which results in your engine using more fuel and working harder. By accelerating at a normal rate with the rest of traffic, then you’ll make sure your engine is never over-stressing itself.

Obviously, this doesn’t apply in all situations. If you turn in front of traffic, you better floor it so other people do not have to slow down.

And, obviously (although I hope this goes without saying), you should never hesitate to accelerate rapidly if it will help you avoid a dangerous situation.

Step Two: Conserve Energy

Remember step one, where that one guy accelerates like a mad man and just has to slam on his brakes later?

That also carries over into step two!

You see, when he accelerates rapidly, he is creating tons of kinetic energy. His car will keep rolling for a very long time due to his speed. However, when he has to slam on his brakes 500 feet later, all of that potential energy is being wasted. Instead of using the energy his engine had already created to get him to that speed, he has to come to a complete stop and then accelerate all over again.

This wastes energy thus wastes fuel.

What should you do instead? After you get to speed (at a normal rate, of course) feather your throttle (for those of you who don’t know what that means… let’s say you’re going 50mph. Instead of constantly having your foot on the throttle, use gentle throttle movements to keep your car at speed. Touch the throttle with your foot, then ease off of it completely). Doing this will result in less fuel being burned, as you will almost be coasting while still remaining at speed.

Another way to conserve energy is when you plan to come to a stop. Obviously, if you’re in an emergency situation, or if the light turns yellow and you can’t make it through the intersection in time, you’ll have to slam on your brakes.

However, if you can see the light is red from a distance, or you’re approaching a stop sign, start coasting. Some people keep their foot on the throttle until the very last moment and then slam on the brakes. If you coast, your engine’s RPMs will slowly drop, and you’ll use all of the energy that your engine previously produced to come to a gradual stop.

This conserves fuel and energy and has a tremendous effect on your fuel economy.

Step Three: Control Your Engine’s Speed

Before we get started on this, let me clear something up:

Your engine’s speed is not your car’s speed.

Your engine’s speed is measured by your tachometer, which shows revolutions per minute. As you accelerate, you’ll notice that the revolutions per minute climb, until you (or your car) shifts gears. Then, the RPMs drop and then slowly climb back up as you continue to accelerate. Essentially, the higher your RPMs, the harder your engine is working, thus the more fuel it uses.

Your car’s speed is measured by your speedometer. If you have your license, I shouldn’t have to explain this one further.

A really easy way to save fuel is to control your engines speed.

When I’m, let’s say, pulling away from a stop sign, I don’t drop my clutch, spin my wheels, and redline my engine through every gear.

Instead, I gradually accelerate until around 2,000-2,200 RPMs, then shift into the next gear. The lower the RPMs, the less your engine is working. The less your engine has to work, the more fuel efficient it is.

Basically, you don’t want to constantly have your engine consistently in the higher RPM ranges, because it causes your car to operate in a less fuel-efficient manner to provide the performance you are demanding from it.

Once again, this is just for typical driving. If you are merging onto the interstate, pulling in front of oncoming traffic, etc., then you need to make sure you are accelerating at a rate that does not endanger you or other people. However, for regular stop and go traffic, such as in the city or suburbs in between traffic lights or stop signs, this can dramatically improve your fuel economy.

Step Four: Control Your Vehicle’s Weight

Obviously, you can’t make your car weigh less than it does from the factory (unless you do some boy-racer mods and remove your rear seats and radio).

What you can do, however, is control what you put in your car. The weight of the car determines how hard the engine will have to work to accelerate. The more junk you keep in your car (golf clubs, sport equipment, clothes, etc.), the more it will weigh. The more your car weighs, the harder it has to work to move, thus the more fuel it will have to use.

What can you do about this?

Only put things in your car that you absolutely need. You don’t need to keep your golf clubs in your trunk every day if you only golf once per week.

You don’t need to keep three extra outfits in your back seat “just in case”.

Another way you can save a lot of weight is by not filling your tank up all of the way at the pump. While it is very satisfying to look at your dashboard and see the needle at “F”, the fuel adds a tremendous amount of weight to your vehicle. By filling it up half way or 2/3rds of the way, you can shed some extra pounds off of your car, allowing it to be more fuel efficient.

While I will admit, this is something that I do not do (I have a small gas tank to begin with, so I would be making too many trips to the gas station), if you have a big gas tank in your car and can last a week with only half of a tank, I’d highly recommend you give it a try!

By combining all of these tips and implementing them into your daily commute, you should be able to drive much more efficiently, allowing you to save on fuel costs and trips to the gas station!

Thank you so much for reading this article! Be sure to share it with your friends and family, and as always, subscribe for email updates to be alerted when I make a new post. Thank you, and have a fantastic day!