John and Helen Taylor standing next to the Patriot and Compass FE challenge entrants.
Geneva - Improving fuel economy of vehicles is a hot issue in the minds of consumers, manufacturers and even governments today. While auto companies slowly push the technology, there are quite a number of tips that any driver can employ to achieve world-class fuel economy.
The 2.0L turbo-diesel equipped and 4WD Jeep Compass and Patriot were recently driven on a fuel economy challenge by hypermilers John and Helen Taylor. Both vehicles were standard, series production models traveling on normal roads, at realistic speeds and in a variety of weather and traffic conditions.
Driving from London to Berlin with fuel to spare, they continued on with a final stop in Poland. Final distances and fill data revealed the following. John achieved 698.4 miles at 56.3 mpg US in the Patriot and Helen pulled in after 658 miles at 55.3 mpg US in the Compass. This was more than a 50% improvement over the NEDC combined ratings of the two vehicles!
For verification, the fuel tanks of both vehicles were sealed at the start of the journey and the odometer verified. Fueling at the start and conclusion of the challenge was verified by independents riding along for the drive.
“We used simple fuel economy driving techniques that any driver could replicate,” said John Taylor. “There is no hidden secret to what we achieved on this drive, and by following the same simple actions, I am confident that any motorist can achieve outstandingfuel efficency gains.”
By far the most important factor in the reduction of fuel consumption is the driver. The rule is simple: slow down and take it easy.
Basic setup and techniques Drive Smoothly
Aggressive driving can use as much as a third more fuel compared to conservative driving. Avoid accelerating or braking too hard, and try to keep the steering action as smooth as possible.
Use Higher Gears
The higher the gear, the lower the engine speed. This can improve fuel efficiency, so use the highest gear appropriate, without causing the engine to labor at an ultra-low rpm. Automatic transmission vehicles will upshift through the gears more quickly and smoothly if the driver eases back slightly on the accelerator when the car has gathered sufficient momentum.
Tune and Service the Engine
A well tuned engine can improve fuel economy by up to four percent. Change the oil and always follow the car manufacturer’s recommendation on servicing.
Keep the Tires at the Correct Pressure
Correctly inflated tires are safer and last longer, and they also reduce the amount of energy required to keep the vehicle rolling. A tire that is under inflated by just 1 psi can reduce fuel efficiency by as much as three percent.
Avoid Carrying Excess Weight
For every extra 100 pounds carried in a vehicle, the fuel efficiency can drop by two percent, so keep the trunk and rear seat clear of any unnecessary items that just add weight to the vehicle.
Take the Roof Rack Off
If the roof rack or roof bars are not being used, then remove them. They adversely affect the aerodynamic efficiency of the vehicle and create drag, reducing fuel economy by as much as five percent.
Use the Correct Engine Oil
Always use the recommended grade of motor oil. Using the manufacturer’s recommended lubricant can improve fuel efficiency by one or two percent. Higher quality motor oils can also help your engine operate more efficiently.
Avoid Excess Idling
Idling gets a vehicle nowhere but still burns fuel. Turn the engine off when you’re in a queue, or waiting for someone, until you need to drive.
Avoid High Speeds
The faster you travel, the more wind resistance you’ll encounter and the more fuel your vehicle will consume just to maintain speed. Driving just five mph over the speed limit can affect fuel economy by up to 23 percent.
Maintain the Distance
Leaving a sensible distance between your car and the vehicle in front gives the driver ample time to anticipate obstacles and to brake evenly.
Use Air Conditioning Sparingly
Air conditioning puts added strain on the engine and uses additional fuel when operating, so limit its use to particularly hot days. On temperate days, use the fan instead of air conditioning.
Check the Air Filter
The air filter keeps impurities from damaging your engine. Replacing a clogged air filter can improve fuel economy by as much as 10 percent while helping to protect your engine.
Avoid Rush Hour or Traffic Jam Hotspots
If you can travel outside of peak times and avoid known areas of heavy traffic, you’ll spend less time stuck in queues and slow-moving traffic, thus consuming less fuel.
Think ahead when driving. For example, slow down early to let red traffic lights change to green, rather than stopping completely. Also, speed up a little before reaching the start of a hill and then allow the vehicle’s momentum to carry the vehicle up the hill without working the engine harder.
When drivers are not calm, they are more likely to make judgment errors. Fuel efficiency is all about smoothness. Judgment and keeping calm is absolutely crucial to achieving fuel economy.
Use handbrakes instead of the clutch on rising slopes
Some motorists do not use the handbrake when stopping their vehicle on a slope. Instead, they either partially disengage the clutch (on manual transmission vehicles), or use the accelerator (on automatic vehicles), to keep the vehicles from rolling back. Both actions use fuel unnecessarily.
They have broken their own word record in 2009. Using a 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI – and their specially-designed Goodyear Fuel MaX tires. The Taylors suggest that these tires were one of the main ingredients that allowed them to better their previous economy record. Goodyear estimates that the Fuel Max hoops offer up a four-percent boost in fuel efficiency.