“We tend to think of fuel saving as only applying to urban commutes,” said Dale Reid, product marketing manager of Ford South Africa. “However, many of our customers use their 4×4 vehicles, like the Ranger and Everest, for a more adventurous lifestyle, where the distances between fuel pumps are much longer compared to city commutes. The extra off-road equipment, or the fact that these vehicles might be required for towing, places an even stronger emphasis on fuel economy.”
Ford offers readers the following tips to save on fuel without necessarily having to cut down on their adventure or leisure travelling.
Choose a fuel-efficient engine
Ford offers various engine derivatives, each of them offering class-leading fuel consumption, e.g. the Ranger fitted with the 2.0-litre single turbo which has returned a fuel index of 6,8lt/100km.
Weight is your enemy
Reducing the weight you carry on and in your bakkie will certainly improve its fuel consumption. Fifty kilograms less weight can improve fuel consumption by as much as 2%. If you are not actually using your roof rack, remove and store it.
Aggressive acceleration and braking can be quite fuel inefficient. Be gentle on the throttle and brakes and engage cruise control over longer distances.
It’s simple: the faster you go, the more fuel you’ll use. Up to around 80km/h, the energy required to overcome wind resistance on a vehicle is minimal. But push beyond that and drag increases exponentially.
Here is a valuable tip: If your vehicle has a real-time fuel economy reading, you can use it to get an idea of how much fuel you are using at different speeds, which will help you find your vehicle’s sweet spot. This could equate to being in top gear at the lowest possible revs.
Check your tyre pressure regularly and stick to the OEM’s directions. Overinflation will reduce grip and increase wear. Underinflation will increase rolling resistance, increasing fuel consumption. Aggressive tread patterns may well improve grip off-road, but it will also increase fuel consumption. Defective wheel alignment will also increase fuel consumption, so check it every 10 000 kilometers.
Time to tow
Higher speeds will increase wind resistance on both the tow vehicle as well as the towed load. Driving at 10-15km/h slower than other traffic will save fuel without necessarily frustrating them.
Service is serious
Nothing beats optimum performance like regular servicing. “Fixing a faulty oxygen sensor can improve fuel efficiency by as much as 40%,” said Ford. “Similarly, using the wrong engine oil can affect fuel consumption by up to 2%.”
Combine your trips
Make a list – plan and or combine your trips.
Hotter weather will probably dictate that you use your air conditioner, which will demand more power and thus more fuel. Using the air conditioner on short trips and in town can increase your fuel consumption by as mush as 25%. “Remember, however, that driving with the windows down increases drag, which means your engine has to work harder. The effect is minimal at low speeds, but increases as speed climbs, so use the air con at highway speeds.”
Cold weather tips
Starting a cold car and allowing it to idle with the heater switched on will burn unnecessary fuel. Starting and driving will improve the heater’s performance and reduce fuel usage.