Driving an automatic is easy. The whole driving experience is comfortable and convenient, when there’s no having to shift the gears up and down.
However, automatic cars tend to be less fuel efficient than manuals. The slightly higher fuel consumption figure is due to the engine working a little harder, as they use a bit more gas to transmit power through an automatic transmission than a manual one.
Here are some tricks and tips on how to drive your automatic car to save fuel and money, while keeping your vehicle running smoothly.
1). Even Out the Acceleration
When driving an automatic car, one way to save fuel is to even out your acceleration. This can be done by gradually pressing down on the gas pedal instead of sudden, jerky movements. It’s also helpful to anticipate stopping, easing off the accelerator to slow down, rather than braking suddenly.
Additionally, try to maintain a steady speed on the motorway and avoid changing lanes and speeding up and slowing down frequently.
Use cruise control (when on flat, straight roads) or the speed limiter to maintain a steady and consistent speed, helping you avoid slowing down or speeding unnecessarily. Remember, the key is to drive smoothly and anticipate the road and traffic ahead.
2). Don’t Rest Your Foot on the Brake
One of the best ways to save fuel is to avoid resting your foot on the brake. Most cars have a footrest right beside the pedal, so get used to putting your left foot there — it’ll help you keep your foot off the brake, so you can continue moving forward smoothly.
Resting your foot on the brake can also wear out your brakes quicker, and increases drag (even if only slightly).
3). Use the AC Sparingly
Using your air conditioning constantly can have an impact on fuel efficiency. To save fuel, it’s best to use your air conditioning sparingly. One way to do this is by rolling down the windows at lower speeds and using the air conditioning when driving at higher speeds, such as 50 km/h or more. At these speeds, the AC will have a more significant effect on cooling the car, while the drag caused by open windows will have a greater impact on fuel consumption.
4). Check Your Tyre Pressure
Flat or under-inflated tyres increase rolling resistance, which means that your car has to use more energy when you are moving. Maintaining proper tyre pressure can boost the fuel efficiency of your vehicle, so be sure to check and set the correct tyre pressure for your car.
Regular wheel alignments will also ensure safer and more efficient driving, so it’s worth making sure you’re getting it done with your regular services.
5). Control Your Transmission
Even though you’re driving with an automatic transmission, there are tricks you can use to save fuel. For one thing, you can coax your car transmission into shifting gears earlier by listening for the engine note and watching the needle on the tachometer to track the RPM when you’re accelerating. Remember, the higher the engine note climbs, and the higher your RPMs go, the more fuel you’re burning.
Modern cars also come with paddle shifters, so you can control the gears like a manual car while still enjoying the ease of an automatic.
6). Shift to Neutral or Turn off When Stopped
This is one of the most obvious ways to save fuel and also one of the most effective. When you stop in traffic, shift into neutral and idle your engine. That way, your transmission isn’t working harder to keep up with your idle speed, and therefore uses less fuel than if it were running.
Modern engines use far less fuel when you start them than if you let them idle for an extended period of time — so it’s better to turn everything off if you’re waiting around or are going to be parked for more than a minute or so.
7). Plan Ahead
Before you set out on your drive, prepare for your commute. Google Maps or other Sat nav tools can help you find the best route to take — one that bypasses congestion or school pick-up and drop-off times. Where you can, avoid traffic lights and crossing intersections, as they are likely to cause you to stop and start quickly often. This way, you’ll save on gas and your valuable time.
If you’re likely to make multiple trips, try to knock out more than one errand at a time, so you don’t have to head out on multiple journeys.
8). Utilise Your Vehicle’s Technology
Alongside Satnav for efficient journeys and cruise control for smoothing out the ups and downs, there are other clever features in your car that help track and control your fuel consumption.
On the multi-information display, some driver-assist systems will show how much fuel you’re consuming in a litres per 100kms figure. You may find it a worthy challenge to adjust your driving habits to see if you can reduce this figure.
The automatic function of hill-hold control is especially effective when driving from a stopped position up a steep incline. It holds your vehicle temporarily so your car won’t roll back down as you release the brake pedal to accelerate, reducing the use of fuel.
Tyre pressure monitoring systems let you know if and which tyre needs topping up on air, which helps improve overall fuel efficiency.
9). Stay On Top of Maintenance
By regularly servicing your vehicle and keeping it in tip-top shape, you can ensure that the engine is running exactly as it should — at its most fuel-efficient level.
Keeping the fluids topped up and replacing faulty components and consumables like oil and air filters is essential. If in doubt, follow the service schedule for your specific vehicle. Staying on top of maintenance will reduce the chances of something going wrong with the car that might cause it to burn more fuel than usual.
10). Lighten Your Load
This might seem like a no-brainer, but having excess weight in your car can affect your gas mileage. Additional weight requires more power, and therefore fuel, to move, so removing the items in your luggage area that you don’t require for the trip will save you at the pump.
Also, items like roof racks or roof boxes cause drag which reduces the aerodynamics of the vehicle. Be sure to remove these items when you are not requiring them to keep your vehicle as streamlined as possible.
So there you have it! Ten tricks to save fuel when driving an automatic car. Be sure to follow these tips to help you drive more efficiently, save money on fuel, and keep your car in the best condition possible.