Well a real Canadian “Sorry” for the little hiatus. Between taxes, and a little weekend excursion, time had to be reallocated. But that doesn’t mean we stop Buy Boss’n! I mastered a technique to save fuel on this trip!
With that out of the way, Let’s Hit The Road!
A weekend trip to nearby Kelowna B.C. gave me the perfect opportunity to work on my fuel saving techniques. The trip was a 735 km rounder, not including driving around all weekend, with 3500m to climb and descend each way. All those mountain passes, and winter conditions, did not look good for my MPG loving heart. Now, typically this trip put me in the 11.5 l/100km (20.5 us MPG, 24.5 imp MPG) zone with my paid-off 2015 Dodge Grand Caravan. Not too bad for a 283 hp people mover. We were hauling 3 adults and 2 kids on the way there and added a little dog “Rosie” and about $1000 in Costco purchases on the way back. This excursion consistently proved to burn a 110 litres of fuel.
As I filled the tank at the local Co-op, so I could get that sweet 5% back from being a member and another 3% back from my visa, I knew I could do better numbers than cruise control. This has traditionally been a tank and a half trip. In the ultimate duel between American engineered machine and Buy Boss’n ideals, well, it turns out I was able to to decimate it by 30%! I was able to achieve 8.0 l/100km (29.4 us MPG, 35.3 imp MPG) on the way there and 8.3 l/100km fully loaded on the way back. In total 72 litres of fuel was burnt in 850+ kms.
Gliding for Gas (the dinosaur type)
The secret sauce is hypermiling. A super smart way to leverage the natural inefficiency of the internal combustion engine. A gas engine wastes about 75 percent of its energy, mainly in the form of heat. So what if we only ran the engine half the time?
Well, that would give us a huge boost in mileage. A true hypermiler utilizes “pulse and glide”. Accelerate to 100 km/h, then coast to 80km/h with the engine off, with an average speed of 90 km/h and 30% or more reduction in fuel costs. Rinse and repeat. Be sure to check if this is legal in your jurisdiction.
Of course, most automatics do not allow you to turn off the engine while coasting, due to transmission damage. So, neutral is the next best option at 2 l/100km fuel usage. But there is more strategy to this yet, for those hoping to maximise the technique!
Most fuel-injected engines shut the injectors off when above 1100 RPM. You can utilize this when going down hill to save fuel, just be sure to be in a gear that keeps the RPM high enough.
Dont’ Be Me, Unless You Think It’s Funny
Now, the real fun begins when some poor guy pulls up behind you. i imagine the conversation goes something like this:
Old man “Ah, good BC plates. At least this guy won’t slow down for every corner like that last one from Alberta! Yup look at that he’s accelerating right now. Yee-haw! lets get going!“
Passenger “You know we once lived in Alberta. And you never complained about the lack of PST.”
Old Man “Yeah, well they make up for it by slamming on the brakes seven percent more. Now what is this guy doing he’s slowing down on a straight away?? Well maybe he’s enjoying this fine BC scenery, I guess we can do the same.”
Passenger “I’ve had to pee for the last 50 kilometers, would you please stop!”
Old Man “Well what the heck! Now this Jack Donkey is flooring it again! I can’t stop now we can make some time. Hotdog! Wait, WHY IS HE SLOWING AGAIN!!“
This keeps a smile on my face during the whole trip, haha!
Tips for Travellers to save fuel
A few other tips to help keep your driving costs low and fuel economy at its peak, collected over my 20+ years previously as a HD mechanic:
- Tires make a big difference in the game to save fuel. Look for low rolling resistance tires, these will have a smoother tread pattern, with less blocking. These will also be quieter, as noise is wasted energy. Keep the psi topped up. Higher psi saves fuel, with trade offs in comfort and handling. In winter I recommend tires with exceptionally good traction though, as an accident is going to cost much more than the fuel savings!
- Keep it in top gear as much as possible, even if you have to give it more throttle to do so. The most efficient speed is as slow as you can go in top gear without lugging the engine.
- Time your “pulse” and “glide” times to be of equal length.
- Let your speed scrub off slowly when going up hills. This is where it becomes a bit of an art. You want to keep the vehicle is as high of gear as possible while at the same time easing off the throttle, without letting it downshift.
- Look ahead to see if the next stop light is going “stale”, about to turn red. Look for clues like the don’t walk sign flashing, traffic piling up at the intersection, or pedestrians pushing the crosswalk button. Time it so you coast up to stop signs, etc. Anytime you brake you are wasting fuel, with the exception of a strategic application that allows you to make it through the next set of lights without stopping.
- Let your momentum carry you over the top of the hill.
- When at highway speeds run your A/C as this is more efficient than rolling the windows down. Vice-versa at lower speeds.
- Don’t drive around in a big truck when a fuel efficient (or EV) car will do.
- Keep your vehicle maintained, but watch out for offers to upsell various services and flushes to you. Research these as many do not need to be done or can be postponed (indefinitely).
- Obey the law, ticket prices easily eat up a month/year or more of fuel costs. Possibly speaking from experience.
Do you have any others?
A Better way to Save Fuel?
I find hypermiling adds a little strategy into the driving experience and helps to keep me from falling asleep while I save fuel the whole way. But I still want more! I’m really thinking about getting a Nissan Leaf. The days of worrying about how to save fuel will disappear. From what I can tell a used Leaf is about the lowest total cost of ownership you can get in a vehicle.
Do any of you amazing readers have any experience with them? Let me know if you do or if there is a better alternative. I ride my bike 90 percent of the time, and this would be our main vehicle. All our important spots are within 15 km, but we do roadtrip 3 or 4 (or more) times a year.
I have some ideas so that we can still take one camping, which I’m going to be testing shortly. The primary one being using my HVAC vacuum pump to shrink the rather enormous queen size foam bed down to the size it was when it came in the amazon box. This is the one we got. It makes tenting feel like home! I’ll be sure to let you all know how this experiment goes!
Let me know any tips you have to save fuel! Until next time lovely people.