British couple John and Helen Taylor already hold 88 world records, including 38 for fuel efficiency. Their quest for another one—for fuel efficiency driving across the 48 contiguous United States—brought them to a Shell station on Candler Road early the morning of Aug. 8.
Although the stop was at 6:30 a.m. the station was packed with people who had come to hear the couple’s consumer tips and receive a Smarter Driving Kit that included a $15 Shell gift card.
“One way to save fuel is to slow down, Helen said. “Of course, no one exceeds the speed limit here in the United States.”
John then asked a woman in the crowd if he could borrow her eyeglasses. “If Helen has never seen anyone speed in the United States, she needs these more than you do,” he told the woman.
With the Candler Road stop, the Taylors were one third of the way toward completing the mission, which involves traveling through each of the 48 contiguous states. “We’ve covered 17 states now, said Helen, who added that the trip is going “just great.” She said she has had a passion for fuel efficiency since found herself faced with getting to a job interview in a car with the fuel light on and 79 cents in her pocket. By making careful choices she made it—and got the job.
Shell, which sponsored the Taylors in 2006 as they set a world record for fuel efficiency, driving 18,470 miles over 78 days, across 25 countries, using 24 tanks of fuel and averaging 52.3 miles per gallon, is the sponsor for the current venture. The Taylors and Shell are teaming up once again to set another lowest fuel consumption record while driving exclusively with Shell nitrogen-enriched gasolines along their route.
Shell and the Taylors say any driver can use their techniques to improve fuel efficiency. They call it the MAP to smarter driving, which is an acronym for:
Maintenance: Perform smart maintenance before you drive.
Actions: Practice smart behaviors while you’re behind the wheel.
Products: Purchase smart products and services at the right price without sacrificing quality.
Over the years, the Taylors have developed a long list of fuel efficiency tips. Here are some of them:
Drive smoothly. Aggressive driving can use as much as a third more fuel than safe driving. Avoid accelerating or braking too hard and try to keep your steering as smooth as possible.
Use higher gears. The higher the gear you drive in the lower your engine speed is, which can improve fuel efficiency. So change up a gear whenever you can, without laboring the engine
Tune and service your engine. A well-tuned engine can improve fuel economy by up to 4 percent, so change your oil and follow your car manufacturer’s recommendation on servicing.
Keep your tires at the right pressure. Correctly inflated tires are safer and last longer. A tire that is under inflated by just 1 psi can reduce fuel efficiency by as much as 3 percent. An under- or over-inflated tire is also more susceptible to failing.
Avoid carrying excess weight. For every extra 100 pounds you carry your fuel efficiency can drop by 1-2 percent. So keep your boot or back seat clear of unnecessary items that just add weight to your vehicle.
Remove the roof rack. If you’re not using your roof rack, then remove it. They affect the aerodynamic efficiency of vehicles and create drag, reducing fuel economy by as much as 5 percent.
Use the correct oil. Always use the recommended grade of motor oil. Using the manufacturer’s recommended lubricant can improve fuel efficiency by 1-2 percent. Higher quality motor oils can help your engine operate more efficiently.
Fuel matters. All fuels are not created equal. Fuel economy is maximized in the engine through a combination of good driving habits and using the right fuel–one that helps reduce friction and improves cleanliness in the engine, thereby improving fuel efficiency.
Avoid excess idling. Idling gets you nowhere but still burns fuel. Turn the engine off when you’re in a line, or waiting for someone, until you need it.
Plan trips carefully. Cutting down on the time spent in the car is the easiest way to conserve fuel. To reduce driving time, combine all your short trips and errands into a single journey.
Avoid over revving. Change gears prudently when you’re accelerating. Never “redline” the rev counter.
Keep your distance. Leave a sensible distance between yourself and the car ahead to give you ample time to brake safely.
Avoid high speeds. The faster you go, the more wind resistance you’ll encounter and the more fuel your vehicle will consume just to maintain speed. Driving just 5 mph over the speed limit can affect fuel economy by up to 23 percent.
Use air conditioning sparingly. Air conditioning puts added strain on the engine and uses fuel to operate, so limit use to particularly hot or cold days. When possible use the fan instead.
Ensure your fuel cap is air tight. Fuel evaporates every time you open the fuel cap. To stop this, make larger fill-ups as opposed to repeatedly topping off your tank.
Keep calm. When you’re not calm, you’re more likely to make errors of judgment. Fuel efficiency is all about smoothness, and keeping calm is absolutely crucial to achieving best fuel economy results.