The Covid-19 pandemic has driven the price of gas down dramatically. But that doesn’t mean driving doesn’t have an impact on the environment. Driving economically – to reduce your fuel bill and save the planet – starts with the driver. It doesn’t matter if you are driving an econobox; drive it badly and you’ll end up with poor fuel economy.

Keep reading to find a few tips and tricks to keep your vehicle sipping fuel. Doubt these will work? Just try them out on your car or bike.

Tips and tricks for maximum fuel economy

Check tire pressures

Check tire pressures (including the spare) at every second fill-up or at least once a month. Underinflated tires increase rolling resistance which hurts fuel economy. Properly pumped up tires can improve gas mileage by as much as 5%.

No extra weight

Empty the trunk of any unnecessary items. Carrying unnecessary weight makes the engine work harder and reduces fuel economy. Even roof racks add to the load and aerodynamic drag. Remove anything you don’t need and watch fuel consumption improve immediately.

Highest gear may not be best

It is a misconception that driving in the highest gear is always best. If the car is driving too slowly, the engine will lug trying to accelerate in a very high gear. This means the engine is pumping in as much fuel as it can even for small acceleration inputs. This is much less of a problem in modern automatic cars, but can occur if you are using the manual shifting mode or driving a manual transmission.

Don’t sit idling

It is commonly said that idling doesn’t waste a lot of gas, especially in modern engines. That is partly true – but what is truer is that fuel is burning away and you aren’t getting anywhere. You can undo a lot of fuel efficient driving idling for even 10 minutes.

The right octane

Cheaper gas is key to a smaller fuel bill right? Wrong! Turbocharged and performance engines run higher compression ratios that require higher octane gas (89, 91 or more). The cheapest grades of gas can cause uncontrolled combustion in the engine – hurting fuel economy and causing engine wear.

Look ahead

Be mindful of traffic around you and anticipate acceleration and braking. The smoother your inputs the less fuel is wasted and lesser is the CO2 released into the atmosphere. The MTO calls this defensive driving.

Don’t drag pedals

Resting the left foot on the brake pedal in an automatic car or on the clutch in a manual can cause imperceptible amounts of drag. Not only does this wear down the brakes (and the clutch) it affects fuel economy too.

Change the air filter

Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for replacing the air filter periodically. If airflow is constricted it forces the ECU to pump in a lot more fuel to compensate for reduced oxygen. If driving in dusty conditions, change the filter more frequently.

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