Feathering the throttle

  • Jun 27, 2014
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Driving with a light foot can save you a lot of fuel. Here are tips to effectively feather the throttle

The more energy spent to move an object, the faster the object will move. It is the same with cars. A car’s engine has the capacity to move at various speeds depending on three conditions – the available amount of surface for the car to travel, the gear you are in and the force with which you accelerate.


Most cars sold in India have a set of five forward gears and one reverse gear. Irrespective of the number of gears your car has though, the job of the gears is to break the revolutions of the crank down to a number that can be used. Pistons drive the crank and if not for a set of gears, the revolutions of the crank would be too high to use. Each gear has a set of ratios and without going too deep into the technical aspect of gear ratios, the simple thing to take out of it is that these gear ratios determine how usable the power generated by the engine is. 

Every driver over time learns to stay in the right gear to get the best performance out of an engine and enjoy a smooth drive. That’s the crucial part – staying in the right gear. Not too high a gear at low speeds and not too low a gear at high speeds. The former is fine if you speed isn’t decreasing because if it is, you will encounter a phenomenon called lugging. Lugging is that jerky feeling when your car is demanding to drop down a gear to stay healthy. 

Maintaining a moderate average speed in a high gear is the most beneficial way of saving fuel. At a higher gear with minimum throttle, the engine is revolving at low RPMs. At low RPMs lesser fuel is burnt and if a steady pace is maintained keeping the engine at low RPMs, your car is being used at its most efficient rate.


Staying in the right gear is important but equally crucial is managing your throttle input. You cannot be stepping on your accelerator all the time and expect your car to return the efficiency the manufacturer was claiming it would return. This is the most essential part of driving a car efficiently. There are a few simple rules you can follow – the first of all is being attentive of your surroundings. Notice a stoplight from a distance and calculate the time you will need to reach it before it turns green and the cars in front of you move ahead. 

If you can time yourself perfectly without being too aggressive on the gas and without changing speed, you are saving fuel. Second is finding a rhythm while driving – don’t go too fast behind a car, brake and then overtake by accelerating again. Spot openings in the traffic from a distance and weave your way through. This saves fuel as well. Third is keeping a light foot on the throttle – giving the car just enough gas to maintain speed and lifting off when you don’t need it. 

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