Optimising steering input

  • Jun 27, 2014
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The world maybe round but roads are straight most of the time. Why would you constantly need to steer then? Drive straight and save fuel. Here's how...

The shortest distance from one point to another is a straight line. Obviously then, you have to drive theoretically in a straight line to reach your destination for the least amount of fuel to be consumed. But in the real world, this is not possible due to topography and town planning of a region. That’s why cars have a steering wheel.


Unlike motorsport, where you take the shortest route possible through a corner, known as straightening a corner, on public roads, following lanes is necessary, even if it is the longer way round a turn. That means you are already driving a longer route by default. But when you are driving, try not to make too many unnecessary directional changes as the distance between your intended point of arrival increases. Moreover, when you are steering, more power is required compared to when you are driving in a straight line. It also wears off your tyres faster so you need to keep that in mind as well. By putting only the required amount of steering input, you will begin driving smoother resulting in better fuel efficiency.

An aggressive driving style that involves a lot of overtaking and lane changing is detrimental to fuel efficiency. Not only are you driving faster, you are also driving longer. Sticking to a lane can save you money and will reduce your effort while driving, especially in peak hour traffic. It might take a bit longer so you need to calculate if it’s worth adopting an aggressive driving style or an efficient one.

Without going into the physics of it, linear acceleration requires lesser force than directional acceleration. You are using lesser energy in a straight line compared to when you are turning because the distance is shorter. Reduce steering to only the required amount and you will be saving fuel.


Invest is a good satellite navigation system. Sat-navs not only give you the best route to a destination but also the shortest and the longest route based on time and distance. It also helps you from getting lost or taking the wrong turn, both costing you time and money. There has been a long debate on the accuracy of navigation systems in India but be rest assured, having one is better. Especially in major cities around the country, these systems are accurate enough.  

On the whole, minimising your steering input is a good way to save fuel. And investing in a navigation system will assist you in that as the chances of you getting lost and driving that extra mile or two to find your destination will be reduced. Steer when you need to; it’s a good habit that saves you fuel and the resulting smoothness will be appreciated by your passengers as well.

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