Every car owner I know is moaning about rising petrol costs.
It’s actually good news in a perverse way. I’m heartened that people are finally seeing the impact of their behaviour on the environment. I guess it’s gotta hurt before we wake up our idea.
Whenever we drive, we are using up precious resources and polluting the air. Now that petrol is so expensive, reducing the amount we use is good for both the environment and our wallets.
I really love cars and the feeling of freedom when I drive, but sad to say, it’s not environmentally sustainable.
So here are 2 gadgets I’ve installed in my car to help decrease my petrol usage:
1) GPS navigation system (Garmin)
The device at the upper left corner is a GPS navigation system by Garmin, the Nuvi 660.
I got it shipped over from USA using the vPost service, and used a free map of Singapore and Malaysia from Malsingmaps. Malsingmaps is an online community of GPS enthusiasts who have painstakingly crafted their own map of Singapore and Malaysia, and the quality is superior to many commercially available maps.
It only cost me about S$540, much cheaper than the S$680 I would have to pay for a similar unit at the shops here.
This little baby will calculate the optimal route for your trip. No more wandering around lost because you missed that one crucial turning and have no idea where to go next.
Believe me, this really saved me a lot of time and petrol.
2) Digital gauge (Scangauge II)
Now, turn your attention to the gauge at the bottom right corner.
This is the Scangauge II digital scan, which plugs directly into your car’s computer. Most modern cars after 1996 would have the appropriate plug near the steering column.
I got it for around S$300 from TheGadgetHome. Good price, great service.
You can get a lot of useful information from this. For example on my unit, I’ve configured it to show:
- LHK: instantaneous fuel consumption (litres per hundred kilometers)
- AVC: average fuel consumption (litres per hundred kilometers)
- BHP: horsepower
- KPH: current speed (kilometers per hour)
So how does this help to reduce my petrol costs?
My car doesn’t have a trip computer nor fuel consumption gauge. So to get an idea of the fuel economy, I have to calculate the distance travelled over a tank and divide it over the amount of petrol at the next top-up.
While this tells me the average fuel consumption, I have no idea what I was doing right. With Scangauge II, I get instant feedback.
Step on the throttle too hard, and the LHK shoots up. Lift off and cruise, and it drops down to zero.
You see 9999 in the photo above, that’s because the engine is left running while the car was stationary. That’s right, I was simply wasting fuel. So the right thing to do is turn the engine off.
I learn very quickly the optimal way of driving that would use the least amount of fuel.
- Accelerate quickly and smoothly to cruising speed of 50 to 90 km/h.
- Anticipate the traffic in front. Lift off the throttle when approaching red lights or slowing traffic.
I can even configure it to show me the cost of petrol I’m burning up. Press the pedal to the metal.. oops! There goes $0.24 down the drain!
After installing the ScangaugeII, my fuel economy has improved by over 10%. With the cost of petrol at an all-time high of over S$2 per litre, my petrol costs is about S$500 per month.
This means I’m saving about S$50 per month, and I’ll recoup my investment in half a year. Not bad.
Another fun nugget of info I got is that I rarely exceed 60bhp for the horsepower. My car’s engine is rated at a maximum of 230bhp, but I’m only using about a quarter of it.
The remaining horses are simply left unused in the stable. What a waste of petrol.
When it’s time to change the car, I’ll get a more fuel efficient model, either a petrol-electric hybrid or a diesel car.
Do check these devices out, I hope they work as well for you as they do for me.