Fuel efficiency or the capacity of a vehicle to obtain energy from fuel is one of the most important factors every car buyers consider. The less fuel the vehicle consumes, the less amount the vehicle costs its owner.

History has shown that gas prices have steadily risen in the past decade. In the Philippines, due to the implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) — where higher excise levies on petroleum and vehicles — gas prices have increased aggressively. This has influenced Filipino consumers to purchase vehicles that are not just reliable but also fuel-efficient.

While vehicle owners can’t control the gas prices in the market, there are still ways to spend less money on gas by increasing fuel efficiency in using the car.

There are many factors that affect a vehicle’s fuel efficiency including size, shape, engine type, fuel size and driving habits. By giving simple attention to vehicle maintenance and to the style of driving, the overall fuel efficiency of a car can boost as much as 30%.

Maintaining the car in good condition is one of the easiest ways to improve fuel efficiency. First, the tires should be inflated with the correct pressure. According to Car Bibles, an online source of automotive wisdom, running on low tire pressure increases the rolling resistance of the tires on the ground surface. “This robs you of very precious fuel,” Car Bibles said in its Web site. “So make sure to inflate your tires to their correct pressure even before rolling out of your garage.”

Engine is another factor to consider in enhancing fuel efficiency. A properly tuned engine maximizes car power. To keep it in good shape, the oil must be changed regularly and on time. It is also important to ensure that the engine air filter is clean; a dirty air filter may causes the engine to stop when idling.

Sticking to the motor oil recommended by the manufacturer of vehicle is also important. Though some products promise an improved performance and better gas mileage, every vehicle owner must understand that there are certain oils which are not specific to their vehicles.

“Using motor oil that has never been tested on the kind and type of car that you have in various conditions may result in the creation of increased friction in the mechanical parts of your engine. This pushes your engine to increase its work,” Car Bibles explained.

The last thing every driver should monitor when it comes to car condition is to watch its weight. Weight is one of the biggest causes for loss of car’s kinetic energy. The heavier the car is, the harder it is for the engine to work.

Aside from the condition of the car itself, driving habits must be observed to achieve fuel efficiency. Sustainable living solutions provider Eartheasy shared in its Web site a list of tips to have a fuel-efficient driving that does not just save owners from further costs but also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants.

On top of the list is avoiding aggressive driving. Eartheasy said that jackrabbit start or a suddenness or rapidity movement of a car, and hard braking can increase fuel consumption by as much as 40%.

“Tests show that jackrabbit starts and hard braking reduces travel time by only 4%, while toxic emissions were more than five times higher,” Eartheasy said. It added that the proper way to move is to accelerate slowly and smoothly, then get into high gear as quickly as possible.

Maintaining a steady speed while on the road is also a must as it helps the engine perform efficiently.

“In one study conducted in Japan, small variations in speed were shown to increase fuel consumption by as much as 20% to 48%,” Eartheasy said.

When traversing a hill terrain or when traffic is coming, the driver must allow the car to slow down naturally and to speed up again when going down hill.

Finally, it is also advisable to avoid speeding and idling. Increasing highway cruising speed of a car from 90 kilometer per hour (kph) to 120 kph, can raise fuel consumption as much as 20%, Eartheasy said. On the other hand, idling wastes fuel but gets you nowhere. If you’re going to stop for more than 30 seconds, except in traffic, it is better to turn off the engine. — Mark Louis F. Ferrolino