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SAVE MONEY! DRIVE BETTER! | KALASH RATNA TULADHAR

One of the most important decisive factor while purchasing a daily commuter, apart from the budget and the resale value, is definitely the mileage it gets. The manufacturers also know that mileage is an important factor for the consumers and they display it prominently in their marketing campaigns. But with experience comes knowledge, or so they say, and we know from experience that the advertised mileage is just as real as a unicorn in a fairy-tale.

There are two metrics that are considered in the measurement of a vehicle’s mileage: fuel efficiency and fuel economy. In layman terms, fuel efficiency (as the name suggests) measures how efficiently fuel is being burned in the engine and is measured in litres per 100 kilometres or L/100km. Fuel economy is the distance a vehicle can cover with one litre of fuel and is measured in kilometres per litre or km/L. We as consumers, are most familiar with the term fuel economy (km/L) generally mentioned as fuel mileage. Although, as commuters, we should focus more on the fuel efficiency or the fuel consumption side of things.

A vehicle with good fuel economy might not be so different on the fuel consumption side of things. Let’s consider a run-of-the-mill Indian commuter motorcycle for example; one model is advertised as having 82km/L and the other having 70km/L. Considering fuel economy, the first motorcycle seems like the better alternative, and that is what we have been trained to look at when buying vehicles. But if we consider fuel efficiency or consumption, which we should, there isn’t much difference in either of them; 1.22L/100km for the first one and 1.43L/100km for the second one. Even though there is a difference in the fuel economy, it isn’t a significant difference in terms of fuel consumption when we consider the amount of fuel used from both motorcycles for a 100km ride. Now, let’s consider something from two different categories, like a person wanting to upgrade from a 150cc sports motorcycle to a 400cc masculine street machine, the advertised fuel mileage for the sporty motorcycle is 42km/L and the masculine machine is 26.5km/L. Now if we look into the fuel consumption of both of these vehicles, the sporty motorcycle consumes 2.38L/100km whereas the masculine machine consumes 3.77L/100km. That is a difference of 1.39L/100km!

With the increasing prices of fuel, it is becoming ever more important to consider not only the fuel economy, but also the fuel consumption on our daily commuter. Most of the time it is not possible to change our vehicles for a more efficient one, but there are some ways that I will share with you so that you can get the best out of the vehicle that you have.

-Many of us think that a vehicle is a maintenance free device that just requires petrol from time to time and an oil  change every now and then. But what we fail to realize is the impact of preventive maintenance on a vehicle. By  following a strict preventive maintenance schedule, not only do we prolong the life of a vehicle and save money on  expensive repairs, we can also reduce the fuel consumption by as much as 30%. This results in major fuel and  money savings in the long run.

-Something that has been repeatedly mentioned about tyres, and it can’t be stressed more, maintain your tyre  pressure. Under-inflated tyres increase the rolling resistance of a vehicle, resulting in increased fuel consumption.

-While stuck in traffic jams or the usual infinity-long traffic stops at major intersections, don’t let your vehicle idle  for more than a minute. Idling engines consume about 2 to 3 litres of fuel per hour (on 4 wheelers) and emit more  pollution than while driving.

-With no signs of Kathmandu becoming dust-free in the near future, regular air filter replacements just might not be  enough anymore. The easier the air gets into the engine, the more efficient the engine gets, which leads to lower fuel  consumption.

-Have your spark plugs checked and gapped to the manufacturer’s specification; a complete combustion cycle  increases efficiency. And if needed replace all spark plugs in unison.

-An oxygen (O2) sensor plays a vital role in the fuel consumption parameter, a dirty or faulty O2 sensor will not be  able to accurately measure the required fuel to be injected into the engine.

-An aggressive driving style with heavy acceleration and hard braking is a very inefficient way to drive. Some newer  vehicles have an instant mileage display, use that display to learn an efficient driving style trying to achieve as high a  number as possible. A good driving style can increase fuel efficiency by as much as 30%.

-If you are on the highway, try to maintain a steady speed with minimal braking and overtaking as possible; a cruise  control system would be ideal but given Nepal’s surprises on the roads, do use with caution.

-Drive in the highest gear possible without causing the engine and gearbox to strain, the higher the gear, the better  the fuel consumption.

-Remove unnecessary weight from your vehicle (aka junk in the trunk). Do you really need to haul around 10 pairs of  shoes just to go to work? Or do you really need a 5kg subwoofer in your car?

-Plan your route before-hand, try to use secondary roads that are less prone to traffic jams and try to avoid roads that  are not black-topped (which probably means every road in Kathmandu).

-Consolidate errands into one long trip rather than frequent short trips, to ensure that travel is done when engine is  in optimum operating temperatures.

-On motorcycles, make sure your foot isn’t pressing the rear brake or your hand pulling on the clutch lever –  unknowingly; this will reduce efficiency and increase wear and tear.

-During regular check-ups of your vehicle, check that your wheels are turning freely; for that, have your wheel  bearings, wheels, rotors, axles and brake pads all within specification.

-If your driving is limited to just on road, choose a fuel-efficient tyre to drastically improve the fuel consumption of  your vehicle. I know, I know having a bulky off-road tyre on your SUV looks cool, but what about the environment?

-Have your AC system inspected, cleaned and filled with the specified amount of refrigerant; an improperly  functioning AC system can draw a lot of power from the engine which causes increased fuel consumption.

So, with these 16 tips to help you save fuel, money and the environment, I hope to have helped you understand that driving is not just about getting from point A to point B. It is about getting from A to B using the least amount of fuel possible. I wish to hear back from you to know if these tips worked for you; or if you have a trick of your own that you would like to share, please feel free to send it in to our facebook page. Until next time, adios.

Contributed by- Kalash Ratna Tuladhar
Mr.Kalash Ratna Tuladhar is a graduate from the Minnesota State University in Automotive Engineering Technology. He formerly worked for MV Agusta and Bikers Nepal as the Head of after sales.

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