Am I accelerating too much?
Am I braking too much?
Does cruise control help?
Honeywell Transportation Systems helped pioneer automotive turbocharging more than 60 years ago and remains the leading global provider of turbocharger technologies for auto makers who are using smaller engines and turbos to deliver better fuel economy and emissions without compromising on engine performance.
Chris Meade, Engineering Director for Honeywell Transportation Systems took some time to answer our questions on vehicle fuel efficiency.
Can a driver increase fuel efficiency even if they don’t drive a vehicle with the best gas mileage?
If you don’t have a brand new or hyper-fuel efficient car you can still get better fuel economy by changing the way you drive. Significant improvements in fuel efficiency can be gained by ensuring that our vehicles are well-maintained through regular oil changes and routine maintenance.
A person’s driving habits also affects fuel economy. Aggressive driving (speeding, quick acceleration and over-braking) is by far the biggest offender when it comes to wasting gas. One extreme example of this is the on-highway trucking industry, where the cost of fuel can exceed $100,000 per year. Truck drivers can save approximately 5 to 10 percent in fuel just by their habits alone. A vehicle’s aerodynamic drag force increases rapidly above 60 mph and most powertrains are designed to be most efficient below this speed. If you’re constantly going faster than that, your gas mileage will suffer. Aggressive driving can reduce fuel economy by as much as 30 percent at highway speeds and 10 percent at city speeds.
This video shows real-world effects of aggressive driving on fuel economy. Don’t mash the pedal when you see the green light and try to look as far down the road as possible to predict when cars will start braking to try and avoid coming to a complete stop.
What are some of your best tips for saving fuel?
Maintain vehicle momentum as much as possible
Every time you must accelerate, the heavy mass of your vehicle requires a significant amount of fuel, so try to maintain your momentum by minimizing driving habits for racing to and from complete stops. Look as far as possible down the road to predict changes in traffic speed and adjust accordingly.
- Use your cruise control
Cruise control is a surprising way to save gas. By maintaining speed relatively constant, you eliminate the speeding up and hard braking that squash your gas mileage.
- Avoid Idling for more than 1 minute and just turn the car off
Several decades ago cars required an increased amount of fuel to turn the engine on but that is not the case today. Advances in technology have made this process much more efficient and less detrimental to the engine. Diesel engines use almost no fuel to keep the engine turning over, while gasoline engines are less efficient. Either way, if you know your car will be idling for more than a minute (train crossings, quick trips into the grocery store, etc.) shut it off! You’ll save fuel and the environment at the same time.
- Maintain your engine and check your tire pressure often
Experts mention these tips all the time and yet they are very often overlooked. A dirty air filter makes the engine work harder to pull in fresh air and lowers the efficiency of the engine. Properly inflated tires are not only safer, but also more fuel efficient. If you don’t like going to the gas station every time you have to inflate your tires, you can purchase a portable air compressor; in the long run, this will save you time, money and fuel.
- Plan your route
Mythbusters famously proved that planning your route helps save fuel. A famous package delivery service company even has a special software that eliminates as many left turns as possible. The idea behind this is that left turns are inefficient for drivers because they spend too much time idling waiting to cross traffic.
Does turning off the AC and radio, and rolling down the windows actually help conserve fuel when the gas light comes on?
Modern vehicle aerodynamics are at their best when the windows are rolled up. Furthermore, while the AC compressor does divert some fuel from the engine, the amount is minimal in modern engines. The best course of action is to keep your windows rolled up and the AC at a comfortable temperature when driving more than 40 mph.
If a driver is in the market for a new fuel-efficient vehicle, are there any considerations they should keep in mind? Is gasoline better than diesel for fuel efficiency?
Honeywell Transportation Systems provides turbocharger technology for passenger and commercial vehicles. Turbochargers are key technologies for increasing vehicle fuel efficiency, yet it is a misunderstood technology for many consumers who associate it with high performance at the expense of fuel economy. In reality, a downsized turbocharged engine can meet consumers’ needs in both price and fuel economy, while still delivering top performance for horsepower and torque in the latest SUVs, sedans and crossovers. Turbochargers are also a complimentary technology that can be used in a variety of applications, including hybrid vehicles. A downsized turbocharged engine can improve emissions and fuel economy as much as 20 to 40 percent in gas and diesel engines, respectively, when compared with standard gas engines and still provide the same or better engine performance. Vehicles powered by turbocharged diesel engines have outstanding fuel economy during highway driving, exceeding hybrids by a wide margin, and offer increased range between fill-ups. More and more car makers are including turbochargers in their plans to improve the efficiency of the vehicles they offer.
Anyone can improve their gas mileage. All it takes is being a bit more patient and keeping these tips in mind. Implement some of these tips and you’ll see impressive fuel savings and see several other benefits including making your commute much safer, lower vehicle repair bills, less speeding tickets and greatly reduced stress. Use our tips and you are ready to hit the road as efficiently as possible!