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Average Speeds vs Fuel Efficiency


The way you drive can make the difference between good fuel economy and sometimes, terrible economy. Here's how to drive to get the best out of every drop of fuel

What is the speed you should drive at to get the best efficiency out of a car? There is no simple answer to that or a definite number to share. What you can know for sure is a low speed in a high gear will give good fuel economy. 

 

The Automotive Research Association of India certifies every vehicle produced in India with a fuel efficiency figure. These are the numbers promoted by the manufacturer when the car is driven under conditions the ARAI uses to test these vehicles. You will notice that most of you have never ever received a fuel economy rating even close to the Manufacturer certified figure. This is because the ARAI tests vehicles on test tracks where they are driven at a very low constant speed. You don’t get to drive anywhere in the real world at a constant speed so it is best to take these numbers with a pinch of salt.

 

Experiment

You can try a simple experiment. Set three different max speeds on three consecutive days spaced out with a gap of 15-20kmph. So say the first day, you don’t cross 100kmph, the next day you don’t cross 80kph and the last day drive under 60kmph. Mark out a fixed route and stick to it for each run. Drive at a fixed time as well to get ambient temperatures and traffic in the same range. Next, see to it that weight doesn’t vary much – tank up the car before the run and again tank it up after the run. Note down the fuel consumed on each day. Also note the time taken to travel the same distance.  The most important thing to follow is a similar driving style through the three days of your test. You will get an excellent idea of how much fuel you can save by driving slower. The difference in time taken will have to be weighed in to the equation because time is money. If the time saved isn’t much by driving fast, isn’t it better to save fuel instead?

 

Driving style

Let’s elaborate on your driving style since it is a crucial part of your test. When you are driving on a highway, stick to the non-overtaking lane. Keep an eye on your mirrors because you will not be driving at the same pace during the test as most of the motorists on the road. That said, follow all rules at all times. Drive in a high gear as much as possible because the engine runs at low RPM thus burning less fuel. Doing 60kmph in fifth gear is perfectly fine in most cars. 

 

Driving fast is fun but there is a different kick you get when you do the same distance consuming much lesser fuel. Once you get aware of how much fuel you begin to save, it can be quite addictive to drive slow.

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