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Wheels Magazine

Wheels Canada: How to save fuel in 10 easy lessons

A light-hearted look at reducing your carbon footprint in the car

Published June 10, 2013

1. Put oversize tires on the rear of your vehicle. That way it’ll think it’s always going downhill.

Downside: If you get mixed up and put them on the front, you gas consumption will skyrocket.

2. Pushing that idea a little farther, only make trips that do involve driving downhill.

Downside: You can’t go home again.

3. When it’s your turn to do the school run, harness the energy of the son. And his friends. They’ll shove you there in no time at all. As they grow into their teenage years, the power boost will be like fitting a turbocharger.

Downside: Extra power is always harder to control. You may find yourself pushing their car.

4. Forget that old saw about driving as if there’s an egg under the accelerator. Use a chicken. As you step on the gas, it’ll push back and squawk.

Downside: Feathers.

5. Off on a cross-country jaunt? Hang out at your nearest truck stop until you find a big-rig that’s going your way. A grappling hook on the trailer and a stout tow-rope, and off you go. Switch host-vehicles as necessary.

Downside: It’s a myth that truckers know the best places to eat.

6. Nineteenth-century windjammers made record-setting ocean crossings using no fuel whatsoever. Erect a mast, properly braced, in your pickup bed and let the wind do the work.

Downside: Finding experienced sail-handlers and keeping them in rum and parrots.

7. Reverse hot-rodding: Instead of shoehorning a V8 into your sub-compact, slot a four-banger into your full-size SUV or pickup. Don’t worry; it’ll fit. Your journey times will likely increase, but remember, getting there is half the fun.

Downside: PETE (People for the Ethical Treatment of Engines) may hear the anguished howl and picket your driveway.

8. Rationing. According to popular wisdom, you shouldn’t eat oysters when there’s an “R” in the month. Maybe you shouldn’t drive either. For even greater savings, don’t drive on any day that ends with a “Y.”

Downside: You’ll turn into a real homebody.

9. Patience. One of these days, those rumours of a top-secret engine that runs on water will turn out to be true.

Downside: Evian is more expensive per litre than gasoline.

10. Creative car-pooling. Remember the old student craze for seeing how many people could be crammed into a VW? Update it by seeing how many commuters will fit in your SUV without rendering it undriveable.

Downside: Don’t. Just, don’t.

 

But seriously, folks: The ABC’s of saving fuel

Anticipate what’s up ahead and react well in advance.

Brake sparingly and gently. If you’re anticipating properly, you’ll often be able to slow down without touching the pedal.

Car lengths: Keep enough space between you and the vehicle ahead that you can react to traffic conditions without stressing out.

Don’t be a lead-foot, either on the accelerator or brakes. Think of your foot as being connected to your wallet.

Easy-does-it is easiest on you, your passengers and your fuel bill. Every time your vehicle jerks, you’re wasting gas. Keep it smooooth.

Fuel grades can be deceptive. You may not need premium gas. Try dropping down a grade and, if that doesn’t work, try a cocktail — half a tank of one grade, half of another.

Go with the flow. Don’t be constantly looking to change lanes to pick up a few metres on everyone else.

Haste makes waste. If that sounds like a cliche, it’s because it’s true.

If you save 30 seconds, what will you do with them?

Just because everyone else is speeding, tailgating and hitting the brakes every few seconds, doesn’t mean you have to.

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