With all the talk of electric vehicles replacing our fossil fuel cars, let's try to make them more efficient to keep up with the times and perhaps for some of us our wallets too.
In the mid 1980s to 1990s, the focus of many car manufacturers was to make their cars as clean as possible. Fuel was still cheap, so it wasn't a concern if engines guzzled fuel - hence we got engines like the 13B rotary in Mazda's RX-7 and RX-8. But from that time onwards, there was a shifting focus on efficiency as well - which would naturally help reduce emissions as efficiency improved.
That's part of the reason why technologies like cylinder deactivation, direct-fuel injection, and variable timing and lift were developed - all in the pursuit of getting a few more kilometres out of your fuel tank. But while there isn't all that much you can do to a car that would make it more efficient from a mechanical standpoint, there are things you can still do to help with efficiency.
Get Rid Of Weight
One of the problems with newer cars is that they tend to be a lot heavier than their predecessors unless significant steps are taken by a manufacturer to help reduce that weight. That extra weight is a result of improved safety and more functionality packaged in the vehicles - for example, electric seats alone can weigh close to 100 kilograms. Taking as much unnecessary weight out of your car can help - whether that's random gym bags or shoes that you have lying around, or umbrellas and water bottles - or even the spare wheel if you're really wiling to go that far.
Make Sure Your Alignment Is Right
Did you know that when the Toyota Gazoo Racing Vios Challenge took place at Sepang, many teams adapted their alignment and chassis settings to maximize speed down the front straight? The track was so wide and open that peak speed mattered the most, and getting a higher peak speed would mean keeping the tyres as straight as possible - that is, close to zero toe for lower rolling resistance. While we don't recommend it on your car, it does mean that if your alignment runs you can end up with a little less efficiency because there's a higher amount of resistance - so it's best to periodically check that everything is alright.
Pick A Tyre Meant For Efficiency
It's something that people don't really consider, but even the tyres you have on your car can impact how efficient it is on fuel. The width plays a part of course - narrower tyres mean less contact with the road, which means less rolling resistance. But even the construction of the tyre and the compound may mean that energy is lost just rolling that tyre along the road - and that's why a harder compound will sacrifice grip in favour of better fuel mileage.
Pump Up Your Tyres
While we can't recommend you go to extremes - though we have, in certain situations - raising your tyre pressures or at least making sure your tyres are at the right manufacturer recommended pressures will also help you improve your fuel efficiency. An underinflated tyre is a floppy one, and also tends to take more energy to turn and roll as you go about your journey. Keeping your tyres sufficiently inflated can let your car roll further and save fuel.
Try A Higher Octane Fuel
This is a bit of a tricky one because depending on how the math tallies up, a higher octane fuel may cost more to run even if it gets you slightly better fuel mileage. Some cars get more efficiency on higher octane fuel because the engine doesn't need as much fuel to stay cool and reduce the risk of knocking and pinging. This even applies to cars that are designed to run on lower octane fuels like RON 95, because the chemistry and physics of combustion remains the same regardless of your engine's design.
Bonus Option: Turbocharge Your Car
We would regard this as a very controversial and nuclear option, but one you could perhaps consider if you have the budget and the means to get it done right. It's the same principle that downsized, turbocharged engines use to get away with better fuel economy and road tax but it also depends on your driving style and discipline. Turbocharging your engine with the right method of tuning can yield more mid range torque and make it easier to drive at lower revs, which in turn helps you save a bit of fuel. That being said, if you're constantly forcing the turbo to spool up in order to accelerate harder, you end up wasting more fuel instead of saving it.
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