Our big goal, or question to ask ourselves, for achieving fuel effiency should be this: What can I do to make driving easier on my engine? The engine is the key. It is the driving factor, the central point, of every vehicle. The ways to achieve better fuel efficiency and put the least amount of stress on the engine without investing in a new vehicle are pretty simple, yet they require a little bit of self-control and self-discipline.
The first and most important way I can think of to get the most out of every drop of gasoline is to drive the speed limit. We need to curb how fast we drive every time we get behind the wheel. This is a very tough thing to do for some people, myself included. I’m sure that most Americans like to drive over the limit. We love going fast. It’s exciting. But we speedsters need to slow down. There is more to the speed limit than just safety. Of course the typical city and highway speed zones are established because they are safe. But in most cars, the speeds at which they shift from 2nd to 3rd gear and from 3rd to 4th are close to 35 and 55 miles per hour relatively. These speeds are not only safe, they are the speeds that allow your vehicle to be the most fuel efficient. The reason is because the faster a person drives in one gear the more the engine has to work to keep up. But once it shifts to a higher gear, going that same speed is easy. The next time you are in a car, listen to the engine as you go. It will get louder and louder and then all of a sudden you will hear a drop off and then it will grow louder once more, like the way we would imitate a car’s sound effects with our mouth.
Also, as a driver increases his or her velocity, not only does the engine have to work harder, but the wind resistance increases as well. Going 65 miles per hour is like having a 65 mile per hour wind right in your face. Think of how much more difficult it is to walk into a wind that strong than to walk on a day without wind. Wind resistance makes the vehicle have to work extra hard to keep up with the speed that the driver wants. All this to say that driving the speed limit is better for the engine.
This next idea for making the most out of our vehicles is to coast down hill. It sounds simple. Yet I don’t see it happen very often. We must realize that when we coast, the engine does not have to do any work. The vehicle is simply rolling along on its tires. So, in taking our foot off the accelerator when going down hills, we are both keeping up with our usual speed (due to gravity) and not putting any stress on our engine at the same time. It is a very easy way to achieve fuel efficiency.
My last idea for getting more out of a tank of gas is this: accelerate slowly. This is an issue that also results from our being a fast culture with a hunger for speed. We love to “jump the gun” when we drive. Often I have witnessed drivers speed away once the stoplight turns green, peeling out as they go. A vehicle’s engine does the most work when accelerating because it has to get a multi-ton vehicle going from a stand still to 35 miles an hour. It takes a lot of exertion to move a vehicle no matter how fast it is done, and we push our engines to the limit when we put the pedal to the metal.