Sat Oct 22 15:36:34 SAST 2016

How to improve fuel economy

By unknown | Jul 14, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

I drive a Volkswagen Golf 5 1,6 that I bought new in 2006. I have kept a record of its fuel usage since, and I find lately that its fuel economy shows a significant drop when compared to the economy (both in town driving and open road cruising) that it gave me two years ago.

The car has done already 94000km and has always received the prescribed dealer services while still under warranty. What can I do to improve the fuel economy?


ON MODERN cars with fuel injection and electronic engine management, there isn't much one can do to the engine to improve fuel economy.

The combustion process will be finely regulated for high efficiency and I certainly will not recommend any alteration to the ECU settings or the fitting of any miracle gadgets.

I presume you have made sure the air filter isn't partially blocked and the oxygen sensor is operating correctly. (To check the oxygen sensor you need sophisticated equipment, so this should be done at a workshop, preferably an official VW workshop.)

There are other sensors which, when they malfunction, can dupe the on-board computer to supply an overly rich mixture. So you might as well ask the workshop to check the operation of all sensors.

I also take it you have tried raising the tyre pressures by, say, 20 kPa - this sometimes makes a surprising difference to fuel consumption without any adverse effect on ride quality or tyre life.

I think you will find that the biggest improvement in fuel economy can be achieved by analysing your driving habits. I am not suggesting that you are a bad driver. This statement is universally true for all drivers.

Try to see if you can't be smoother and gentler on the throttle without becoming a pain in the neck for other drivers in traffic. Every time you accelerate, the fuel mixture is enriched to give more power and every time you brake, some of the kinetic energy which you have built up by using precious fuel is converted to useless, unwanted heat at the brakes.

Anticipate traffic situations in time to make small, smooth adjustments to the throttle. On the freeway, try cruising at 100kmh instead of 120. It's less stressful, and safer, in addition to being more economical. If you have to endure congested city traffic every day, try to experiment with different routes and different times, if possible.

On downhill sections of city roads you can coast to a stop at traffic lights - on a fuel injected engine the fuel supply to the cylinders is cut almost completely off when the car is coasting in gear with the ignition on. If your car has a fuel economy gauge, you can learn a lot about economical driving habits by watching that.

I recently had to get new wiper blades for my car, a 2002 Ford Ikon 1.6i LX. A friend helped me to fit a well-known after market brand of blades that are claimed to be made of high-grade rubber and to provide a very long service life. But soonthereafter the wipers started juddering. The old ones, which were the original ones fitted by Ford, never did that. What causes the juddering? I find it irritating and can't believe it's healthy for the wiper linkages and the motor.


Liz, juddering wipers are one of those irritating problems for which there is no single, sure-fire answer. Each "expert" will have his own theory about the causes and will vouch that this is what he did and it worked like a charm.

I think there are several possible causes, sometimes operating in combination. I suggest you try the following steps, starting with the simplest remedies:

l Clean the windscreen and wiper blades thoroughly. Methylated spirits on a paper towel works well. You will be surprised at what comes off on the towel even from a windscreen that seemed clean.

l Always give a quick squirt of diluted washer fluid (from the reservoir) on the windscreen before activating the wipers. The soapiness in the washer fluid will provide lubrication for the blades, at least initially. If juddering returns after a while, it's time to move on to the next step.

l Bite the bullet and buy a set of genuine Ford-branded wiper blades.

l If the judder persists, you have at least eliminated the blades as a cause. The attention then shifts to the angle at which the wiper arms hold the blades, the pressure exerted by the spring-loaded arms, binding or wear in the linkages, or problems inside the wiper motor. The latter is unlikely, wiper motors are normally very reliable. If it comes to this stage, I suggest you seek advice from an experienced Ford workshop.


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