Sunday, November 12, 2017

A foolproof way to improve mileage

A lot of automobile blogs and sites will tell you that your car's fuel efficiency is a composite of many factors including optimum tyre pressure, clean components like air and oil filters, and using a high octane fuel.

I have been deeply unhappy with the average of 10 km per litre that I get from my Hyundai i20 Elite (Petrol). To add insult to injury my Dad got a steady 13 km per litre from his 15 year old Baleno (which has a much bigger more fuel hungry engine) before he finally sold it last year. He has the new Baleno now and averages 18 km per litre with ease.

Dad is a retired automobile engineer and some of his mandates in the past have included designing truck and car engines, the machines that manufacture them, and compressors. So he knows what parameters will make the big difference.

I asked him for tips to improve and after observing my driving he gave me just one piece of advice - to watch the engine RPM (speed). In essence this is what he asked me to do;

1) Upshift the gears as quickly as possible. To the extent possible drive in higher gears always
2) Avoid letting the engine speed go above 1500 RPM unless I am in 5th Gear. 
2) Avoid hard braking

This all seemed simple and in my control, so I started practicing these tips around a month ago. In this period I have refuelled thrice and I can say that it's working. My fuel efficiency is up around 25%. Earlier a full tank of 40 litres would get me 400 km worth. Now I refuel at 450-480 km. I have not changed anything else so it's only the more mindful driving that has made all the difference.

Watching engine speed and avoiding braking suddenly has also made me a more mindful driver. I used to think that a careful driver is one who watches traffic and pedestrians. I can now add to that list, a careful driver also watches the engine speed and cares for their car. 

You will need to figure out the optimal engine speed depending on your make of car and engine - and I am sure it will be different for diesel and petrol cars as well. Try this tip - which does not require any expensive investment - and see if it works for you!