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You really can control your fuel economy

Driving.ca logo Driving.ca 2019-01-11 Brian Turner
a truck that is driving down the street in front of a building: The Ford F-250 Super Duty makes up for 4.2 per cent of vehicles on the road with more than 200,000 miles.© Handout, Ford The Ford F-250 Super Duty makes up for 4.2 per cent of vehicles on the road with more than 200,000 miles.

Sooner or later this year, a price increase at the fuel pumps is coming. Whether it’s due to carbon taxing/pricing or some international crisis, we’re going to feel it in the wallet. And our current and growing love affair with SUVs, crossovers, and trucks isn’t going to make things any easier. There are many things that drivers can do to improve their ride’s fuel economy and we’ve covered them here to almost the point of annoying repetition. We’ve talked about vehicle maintenance, keeping tire pressures correct, lowering our driving speeds, removing unneeded trunk gear to save weight, and the list goes on.

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The biggest problem with all these valuable tips is that each one of them only improves our fuel tanks’ ranges by small percentage points. Running tires at a few pounds below spec for example, only increases your fuel expenses by a few percentage points. Add everything together and your fuel savings can be substantial, but it’s hard to get excited about any one item.

However, in terms of comparing one fuel saving idea against another, there really is a single magic bullet. And this will deliver amazing results regardless of what type of engine is under your hood or how many speeds your transmission has. It’s how you accelerate.

When any type of fuel injected (or carbureted) automotive engine is under open throttle conditions, a whole host of things conspire to rob fuel efficiency. Ignition timing is advanced, fuel injectors go to longer spray durations, and if you’re concerned about the environment, emission controls go off line completely on wide-open throttle applications.

So controlling your urge to floor it can make a major difference in your fuel bills. Safety should never be sacrificed no matter how much you want to pinch fuel pennies. When merging onto busy highways, or making safe turns in intersections, the amount of throttle you apply shouldn’t come into the equation. But there are plenty of times during our commutes or road treks when we can ease of the pedal and reap the rewards. It’s as simple as starting off by avoiding full-throttle applications whenever possible and then graduating to stopping the pedal drop to halfway and even less. It means keeping a closer eye on surrounding traffic to avoid getting in someone’s way and learning how to read the road and traffic ahead (skills that every driver should master anyway).

Take the challenge. Complete a fuel economy test on the next fill up, and then try a tank’s worth of driving with as few full throttle stabs as possible, you will see results, unless you’re already a perfect driver.

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