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Practice. Seven tips for using less fuel

Rising fuel prices have become a major concern for drivers around the world. Here are a few tips to save your fuel consumption as much as possible.

1. Drive smoothly

Sudden gear changes, hard acceleration and braking increase fuel consumption. It is therefore for this reason that “it is important to drive with flexibility, anticipating the route and making smooth gear changes”, explains Ángel Suárez, engineer at the Technical Center of SEAT SA.

Lower gears should only be used for the first few seconds of driving and, whenever possible, it is better to use higher gears. It is also best to follow the instructions of your vehicle’s GSI (gear shift indicator).

If necessary, if your vehicle does not have this type of device, try to change gear before reaching 2,500 rpm. “The higher the engine speed, the greater the fuel consumption,” explains Ángel.

2. Switch off the engine during prolonged stops

Leaving your car engine running during extended stops is counterproductive. The engine overheats and fuel consumption increases.

In addition, during shorter stops, such as at a traffic light, the engine idles and consumes around 1 liter per hour. “To automate this process, the entire SEAT range is equipped with the Start&Stop system, which by default will switch off the engine when you stop”, emphasizes Ángel Suárez.

3. Maintain a constant speed

Gear changes have an impact on fuel consumption. It is therefore preferable to maintain the same pace as long as the traffic and the road allow it.

“The adaptive cruise control (ACC), which is available on SEAT models, is the ideal solution for adjusting your speed on routes without significant gradients, such as on the motorway for example”, explains Ángel. In this respect, the IEA recommends reducing your speed by 10 km/h to consume less. Indeed, it has been proven that driving at 110 km/h on the motorway easily saves 11% of fuel.

4. Use engine braking

“Wherever possible, even before pressing the brake pedal, try to come to a stop gently by taking your foot off the accelerator, so as to take advantage of the opposing pressure that the transmission exerts on the engine” advises Angel. In this way, the car brakes gradually without engine assistance, again to reduce fuel consumption. To do this, it is essential to anticipate braking and respect the safety distance.

“We often see people going into neutral on descents. This is a false good idea, because in this case the engine is disconnected from the gearbox, and it actually consumes fuel”, explains the engineer. “Better to use the engine brake, that is to say that once the gear is engaged, you take your foot off the accelerator and, in this way, there will be no fuel consumption” adds he.

5. Turn on the air conditioning or roll down the windows?

Air conditioning is one of the non-driving elements that consumes the most fuel: between 4 and 10% according to the IEA. However, lowering the windows at medium and high speeds creates a drag effect: air enters the car and generates aerodynamic drag which slows it down, thus forcing the engine to work harder to maintain the pace.

“It is best to always use the AUTO function of the air conditioning system. This way, the compressor works in the most efficient way to reach the desired temperature, without penalizing fuel consumption. From 80 km/h, when the aerodynamics plays an important role, always keep the windows closed”, recommends Ángel.

6. Monitor your tire pressure

This is an essential aspect of safety, but also of reassuring driving. According to the IEA, regularly checking tire pressure saves at least 1.5% fuel. In addition, it is advisable to correctly distribute the load in the trunk in order to reduce the weight of the vehicle, and then adjust the tire pressure. Also be aware that the use of a roof box will penalize the fuel consumption of the car.

7. Plan your route

It is essential to plan your itinerary to save money. Unforeseen events such as stops in traffic jams or getting lost on an unfamiliar road can lengthen your trip unnecessarily.

And therefore increase fuel consumption. That’s why it’s best to plan your route, choose the times of day when there is less traffic, and take advantage of the same trip to meet several different needs.

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