Bad Fuel-saving Habits

It’s good to do your bit for the planet and even better to save some cash. However, not all fuel-saving habits are good.

 

Bad Fuel-saving Habits

It’s good to do your bit for the planet and even better to save some cash. However, not all fuel-saving habits are good.

Knocking the car out of gear and easing off the gas to save fuel is pretty harmless when pulling slowly up to a junction, but there are major drawbacks. Firstly, you lose the ability to quickly accelerate out of tricky situations because you are stuck in neutral.

Secondly, without engine braking you lose braking performance and on hilly roads the brakes could overheat, leaving you to plunge over a cliff. Money saved for the funeral, though.

Some folk turn their engines completely off while moving, which is plain dangerous. If you rotate the ignition key fully off it engages the steering lock, meaning you can’t steer, precipitating your accident and much laughter at your expense. Modern cars rely on power-assisted boosters called servos to apply force to the brakes and the steering, and without them no human can push the brake or turn the wheel hard enough to get them to work properly. These servos only work with the engine turned ON!

Modern fuel injection systems reduce the benefits of coasting anyway. Unlike the old days with a carburettor, engine management systems control fuel and ignition electronically. The car’s brain, the ECU, automatically cuts the fuel supply to the injectors when you stop accelerating.

Drafting involves tailgating the car or truck ahead to benefit from the slipstream, the invisible hole in the air created by the lead vehicle, in order to save fuel. Unless you’re a NASCAR racer, drafting usually ends badly. That’s why NASCAR races nearly always involve a massive pile-up.

In some parts of the Far East, I’ve witnessed people driving around at night without their lights on to save the bulbs and reduce fuel consumption. Some people apply this logic to their heated rear windscreen and de-mister. Turning them off saves a tiny fraction of fuel, but it is generally considered more important to be able to see where you’re going.