‘How can I consume less fuel with my car?’ [Newbie Guide]

Updated Mar 02, 2021 | Same topic: Beginner's Guide

The more you can save on fuel expenses, the better.

The expense of car ownership doesn’t end with the sticker price. Whether you buy it in cash or choose the financing route, you’ll still have to contend with recurring costs if you hope to keep the car useful for as long as possible.

Instrument panel

We all want to minimize our car-related expenses

One of the more frequent (and fickle) items that you need to prepare for is fuel, especially since the price at the pumps is dependent on market forces and tends to change every week. While modern cars are engineered to be more fuel-efficient than models from several decades ago, people generally won’t pass up the chance to save even more money.

Here are some tips if you want your car to burn even less fuel, especially if you use it often.

Check your tire pressure

The engine and transmission might power your car, but it’s the tires that provide the grip and allow it to move forward. This is made possible through a contact patch, the part of the tire that comes in actual contact with the road surface. The bigger the contact patch (such as with underinflated tires or bigger loads), the higher the rolling resistance that the car has to deal with.

Close-up tire

Even performance models deliver the best results when their tires are properly inflated

When the engine has to work harder to keep the car in motion, it ends up consuming more fuel. Make sure to check your tire pressure before driving off, preferably in the morning when the ambient temperatures are still low.

You can use the recommended tire pressure indicated on the car’s door sill as a baseline, as long as you don’t overinflate the tires.

Get rid of excess weight         

These days, cars are no longer just modes of transport but also serve as extensions of the home or workplace. Apart from the usual items such as tools and early warning device, you might be lugging around other stuff such as a spare change of clothes, equipment, or even miscellaneous paraphernalia that you haven’t quite figured out how to organize at home yet.

Man taking out boxes from car

Avoid carrying around unnecessary junk in the car

Remember, all that weight bears down on the car. As much as possible, take only what you actually need on a particular trip or commute, and remove unnecessary loads. For instance, if you have your own indoor parking space in the office, you might want to leave the car cover at home. Or clean out your vehicle’s cargo area of junk and other debris to lighten the load.    

Evaluate your accessories

Many car owners are not satisfied with having a stock setup, choosing to add a personal touch so that their car stands out, especially if it’s a popular model. The most visible way to do this is through exterior accessories. These add-ons might enhance the car’s overall look and improve its utility, but they can also add bulk while affecting the vehicle’s aerodynamics.

Bike rack

Top loads increase the aerodynamic drag on your car

You might notice a drop in your vehicle’s fuel efficiency after having attachments such as roof carriers, bull bars, or mud guards installed. If the accessories are easily removable, take them off when you won’t be needing them in the meantime. Otherwise, you’ll need to decide if you can live without having to set aside a slightly higher budget for fuel.

Avoid aggressive driving

Sudden accelerating the vehicle from a standstill (also known as jack-rabbit starts) and hard braking can increase fuel consumption by as much as 40 percent. It can also be uncomfortable and dangerous for your passengers. Even small bursts of acceleration during cruising bring down fuel efficiency.

Speed limit

Cruising at a steady speed helps preserve fuel economy

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Keeping in mind that a car consumes the most fuel when starting from rest, you’ll want to accelerate as smoothly as possible, getting into the higher gears as quickly as vehicle speed allows. Instead of mashing the gas pedal, imagine an egg placed under your foot that shouldn’t be crushed as you accelerate.

Lift your foot off the gas pedal when it’s time to slow down and drive steadily at posted speed limits on expressways. If your vehicle comes with cruise control, use it when the situation allows.   

Stick to the right octane rating

Even after choosing an economy model, many drivers want to wring out every available ounce of performance. The common technique is to load up on gasoline with a higher octane rating than what the manufacturer recommends, in the belief that this will make a car run faster.

Fuel nozzle

Higher-octane fuel doesn't always translate to a faster car

>>> Related: Octane Boosters - 4 things you definitely need to understand

Apart from being priced higher than regular blends, high-octane fuels are formulated to burn more easily, so don’t expect your budget to last as long when going for the more expensive stuff. Furthermore, high-octane fuels offer no advantages over regular ones when it comes to preventing or removing engine deposits.

The only benefit they bring to standard engines is in eliminating knocking or pinging, so if there’s nothing wrong with your car’s motor, you’re better off loading up on the recommended octane fuel.

Find more driving tips at Philkotse.com.

Joseph Paolo Estabillo

Joseph Paolo Estabillo


Joseph has been a member of various car clubs since he got his driver's license in 2004 – old enough to remember riding in taxicabs with analog meters, but his fascination with cars goes way back. After nearly two decades of working in broadcast media, he shifted gears by coming on board as Philkotse’s first Filipino member and staff writer in 2017.

Apart from his role in Philkotse as Content Team Lead, Joseph has written episodes for Drive, which has been airing on CNN Philippines for five seasons running. He has also delivered content for various car dealerships based in the U.S., spanning multiple brands such as Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Jeep, Dodge, among others.

Keeping his hopes high and his revs low, he dreams about owning a Kei car when he retires. Hates slow parkers.

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