10 tips on how to save money on your car's fuel cost

Zamil Syaheer/May 22, 2020 08:30 AM

Apart from insurance and maintenance, another big ticket item that we have to spend on our cars is fuel. Sure, fuel price is at the lowest now due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but that doesn’t mean you are permanently immune from rising fuel cost, or you can't improve things further.

As a general rule of thumb, you should always read through your car's owner’s manual and look for the recommended grade of fuel required, as well as recommended driving/maintenance habits. 

Here are 10 top tips from us at WapCar to help you go further with one tank of fuel.

1. Check your tyre pressure

This is the easiest way to save fuel. Check your owner's manual on the recommended tyre inflation pressure. You can also refer to the stickers located either on the fuel lid or at the front door sills. 

A properly inflated tyre not only requires less energy to roll, but it also delivers a smoother drive, lighter steering, and absorbs bumps on the road better.

I drive frequently so I always make it a habit to check my tyre pressure once a week. A tyre deflated by two psi will result in a 1% increase in fuel consumption.

2. Clean or change your air filter

Aftermarket air filter like K&N is a long term solution because it's reusable.

When is the last time you changed your air filter? Clogged air filters increase fuel consumption because it restricts airflow into the engine. Restricting airflow also means decreased power, thus requiring more energy to get up to speed.

Air filters should be cleaned/replaced when necessary. Clogged air filters can increase fuel consumption by up to 10%.

3. Replace your cabin air filter

Whoa, what? Believe it or not, a clogged cabin air filter can force your air-conditioning system's blower motor to work harder. In our hot climate, the reduced efficiency has a direct effect on fuel efficiency because the engine has to work extra harder to drive the air-conditioning system, thus using up more fuel. In the longer term, a poorly maintained cabin filter can damage your air-conditioning system.

4. Check your fuel cap

All fuel caps have a rubber seal that forms an airtight protection against fuel vapour leaks. Over time, this rubber seal degrades and may crack or fail. When air enters the fuel tank, your fuel evaporates faster.

Unlike modern cars with internal fuel pump (the pump is in the fuel tank), older cars utilises external fuel pump (the pump is outside of the tank), which will have a higher chance of oxygen going through the tank.

You never thought that such a simple item can affect your fuel efficiency eh?

5. Minimize aerodynamic drag

Additional parts on the exterior of a vehicle such as roof racks (with the box, it’s worse), bike racks, and unnecessarily big spoilers, or even having the window open, increases aerodynamic drag. These add-ons not only add weight but also upsets the clean flow of air over and around the car.

An increase in drag means that your car’s engine will have to work harder to push through the air resistance. If you’re not using them, get rid of them immediately.

6. Get your alignment checked

Poor wheel alignment wears out your tyres quickly and forces your engine to work harder, using as much as 10% more fuel. Driving with a tyre that's out of alignment by just 4.2 cm equals to you dragging your tyre sideways for 164 km for every 32,000 km.

7. Remove unnecessary weight

This is self-explanatory. The heavier your car is, the harder the engine has to work to compensate for the added weight. For an additional 45 kg of stuff loaded into your car, you lose 1% to 2% in fuel efficiency.

8. Don’t stay idle for long

This is common sense. When the engine is running but the car isn't moving anywhere, you're burning fuel for no reason. Minimize idling by switching the engine off whenever your car is stationary for an extended period of time. Idling for more than a minute consumes much more fuel than restarting the engine.

Don’t bother ‘warming up’ your engine before driving – the recommendation for modern cars is to drive off slowly to get the engine's temperature up to its optimum level.

9. Drive smoothly

Be smooth and gentle with your driving inputs. The smoother you are, the better your fuel mileage is. Just by driving smoothly alone can net you a potential 33% savings on the highway and 5% in town.

Accelerating and braking smoothly is important too. A good driver is one that has good judgement on speed and distance. When you speed up more than necessary, you end up braking harder than necessary. Doing so just burns more fuel without getting you anywhere faster. 

10. Don’t buy all those fuel-saving stuff; it's placebo/scam

Type "alat jimat minyak" on Google and walaaah!

We can’t stress this enough. As Malaysians, we always encounter products with shady claims and test results promising to save x% in fuel, that it is hardly believable.

We won’t name shame the brands available on the market, but do you really believe that sticking a piece of magnet on your fuel cap can help you save fuel, nevermind the question of whether such add-ones have any adverse effect on your car? Simply put - if it really works, the manufacturer would have engineered it into the car.