After 99 days without increases, Petrobras (PETR3;PETR4) announced, this Friday (17), readjustments of 5.2% in the price of gasoline and 14.2% in the price of diesel. As a result, the average price of gasoline at the state-owned refineries will jump from R$3.86 to R$4.06; diesel will go from R$4.91 to R$5.61 per liter.
As a justification, the state-owned company said that the adjustment seeks to converge fuel prices in Brazil with those practiced abroad. For you, the consumer, who will face yet another price increase at the pumps, there is only one way out: to save fuel while using your vehicle.
With that in mind, the InfoMoney compiled tips for drivers to spend less on commuting. They range from basic advice, such as having your tires calibrated weekly and only filling up at reliable stations, to research that shows the waste of driving over the speed limit on the roads and with unnecessary weight on the vehicle.
The tips come from specialist Milad Kalume Neto, director of business development at Jato do Brasil, a consultancy present in more than 50 countries; Raphael Galante, economist, specialist in the automotive sector and columnist for InfoMoney; and Antônio Jorge Martins, coordinator of FGV’s automotive courses. Check out:
1. Drive slower
The higher the speed, the greater the air resistance and the greater the fuel consumption. According to the Energy Saving Trust, 25% more fuel is consumed at 140 km/h than at 110 km/h.
2. Use air conditioning less
Air conditioning represents an increase of 15 to 20% in fuel consumption. Here are some simple tips to reduce the need for air on:
- park in the shade
- Putting darkening films on the windows
- Turn off the air conditioning minutes before arriving at the destination (this even prevents fungi in the system)
“The ideal is to turn off the air conditioning about 5 minutes before stopping, so that it can, with natural ventilation, prevent fungus from gathering in the system”, says Kalume Neto.
3. Do not drive with the window open at more than 60 km/h
It’s good not to abuse the air conditioning, and the Daily Fuel Economy Tip website says that if the vehicle speed is less than 60 km/h, the best option is to drive with the window open. But above this speed, it is recommended to use air conditioning so as not to interfere with the vehicle’s aerodynamics.
4. Reduce vehicle weight
You know that trunk full of stuff? Avoid this practice at all costs. According to the US Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), an extra weight of about 40 kg can increase fuel consumption by up to 2%.
The director of Jato do Brasil says that, in some cases, “even frequent washing of the vehicle reduces fuel consumption as it eliminates mud spots, which can accumulate water and, consequently, increase the vehicle’s weight and consumption” ( this tip is even more valuable for those who live in the countryside).
5. Turn off electrical devices
The use of electrical devices such as auxiliary lights, windshield wipers and internal ventilation system, among others, should only be used for as long as necessary. “The more electrical devices the car has, the more it is looking for that battery power. And the battery does not feed itself,” says Kalume.
6. Turn off the car engine…
At stops longer than one minute, turn off the vehicle’s engine. This tip is valid for quick stops, such as waiting until someone leaves the house or while the passenger buys medicine at the pharmacy.
“At traffic lights it’s not worth it [desligar o carro], because you overload the vehicle’s ignition system and shorten the life of the starter motor. Fuel consumption, even at longer traffic lights, does not compensate for the wear and tear that the vehicle will have”, says the director of Jato do Brasil.
But the expert points out that cars with a “start/stop” system (which automatically turns the engine off and on when you stop at a traffic light) are designed for that, so you don’t have to worry about disabling the system.
“You have a better battery, a better starting system, it is more robust. So you don’t have to worry about the starter motor,” says Kalume. “It’s part of the process of saving fuel and gives a 2% to 3% improvement in fuel consumption, according to European calculations.”
7. But never ‘go down on the toothless’
About the famous expression “getting down on the toothless” (known to those who were born before the 90s), Kalume warns that doing this has been meaningless for 30 years, with the end of carbureted cars.
“Since the cars with electronic injection, if you put the car in ‘neutral’ on a descent, you will actually spend more fuel. And the same goes for automatics, if you put them in neutral”, says the expert. “When you put it in neutral or neutral, the car understands that it’s stopped and that it needs to keep pumping fuel into the engine to keep it running. With the car in gear, it only injects fuel into the engine when you step on the accelerator.”
8. Shift gears at correct rotation
Changing gears in cars with manual transmissions must be carried out at the “correct time”, warns Kalume. That’s why you shouldn’t increase the engine speed between one change and another (“stretch the gear”, in popular jargon). According to the specialist, vehicle manuals often provide guidance on the ideal speed for gear changes.
9. Automatic or manual transmission?
Here we have an impasse. The director of Jato do Brasil says that, despite the great evolution observed in recent years, automatic transmissions consume more. On the other hand, Raphael Galante, economist, specialist in the automotive sector and columnist for InfoMoney, says that the automatic transmission is more economical. But Galante admits that there are exceptions, such as old gearboxes (which consume more) or drivers who know how to shift gears at the correct time (in cars with manual gearboxes). “But they are exceptions.”
10. Less power, less consumption
In general, smaller vehicles are more economical to run. The exception occurs in certain situations where the engine is very demanding, such as going up a steep slope or up a mountain range. As the engine is more demanding in these cases, fuel consumption increases relatively.
11. Avoid traffic jams or routes with many stops
Driving slowly, changing gears many times and having to stop frequently increase fuel consumption, as the vehicle needs to come out of inertia more often (and it needs more effort for this initial movement).
That’s why it’s also important to keep the engine speed and rotation as constant as possible. Likewise, avoid very sudden braking and speed resumptions.
12. Does your vehicle consume less ethanol?
The rule of ethanol competitiveness, of costing up to 70% of the price of gasoline, is always valid if your car is flex-fuel. But each vehicle has a technical factory adjustment that can change this consumption ratio a little more or less.
Making an accurate calculation on a day-to-day basis is difficult, as traffic situations are never the same, so Kalume says that the ideal is to look at the information in the vehicle manual or Inmetro, which can be useful to find the best relationship for your car.
13. Choose reliable gas stations
Posts with bad appearance, of unknown brands and/or with absurdly low values should be avoided. A good tip is to find out if the post is frequented by app drivers and taxi drivers.
14. Use the fuel indicated in the manual
“Premium” fuels may have little or no influence on the performance of your car, even if they are much more expensive (because they are made for a different, sportier vehicle standard). The ideal is to always use the fuel recommended in the vehicle manual.
15. Use the Inmetro reference
All new vehicles sold in Brazil have their fuel consumption tested by Inmetro. Research which are the most economical in the category before buying a 0 km car.
16. Perform preventive maintenance on filters
Any element that causes a restriction in the operation of the engine increases fuel consumption. That’s why it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for changing oil, air and fuel filters.
The change is important to always have an ideal mixture of air and fuel and for the best performance of the engine, because a bad quality or expired oil will also increase fuel consumption (because the friction of the engine will be greater and its temperature will increase, increasing consumption).
All parts related to the ignition systems (plugs, coils and ignition cables) and fuel injection must also have preventive maintenance following the guidelines in the manual.
17. Inflate the tires 1x a week
The deflated tire tends to have greater contact with the ground, increasing friction (and, consequently, fuel consumption). That’s why the recommendation is to check the calibration once a week, with cold tires and preferably always in the same place.
Kalume points out that the indication of the correct calibration is usually close to the fuel cap or on the vehicle’s door pillar, but if you can’t find the information, just look in the vehicle manual.
18. Alignment and Balancing
As well as tire calibration, alignment and balancing prevent greater friction with the ground, also avoiding greater fuel consumption.
If the manual does not say how often this maintenance should be performed, the recommendation is to do:
- Every 10 thousand km
- When an obstacle is hit hard
- When you feel some vibration in the vehicle (the latter is difficult to observe on newer models due to the power steering, which eliminates the problem)
19. New x used models
Used vehicles have greater wear and mechanical clearance in all their mechanisms, which increases fuel consumption (as well as preventive and corrective maintenance costs in general). In this case, always opt for the new vehicle to reduce consumption (when the cost makes sense, of course).
Have you tested the 19 tips and still need to reduce your budget fuel expenses more? If this is your case, the experts have one more suggestion:
How about leaving the car at home?
Sometimes it can be more advantageous to use the transport application system, public transport or to use the good old bicycle, recommends Antônio Jorge Martins, coordinator of FGV’s automotive courses. “The world is moving today to seek new means of transport”.