Skip to main content

Fuel Saving Tips and Best Maintenance Practices

Every drop is precious

Diesel is a critically important petroleum product. But our reserves of crude oil are limited. What should we do? How do we meet the inevitable rise in prices, the possible shortages?

You, as a fleet operator, can help save diesel till an alternative source of energy is found.

Good driving the key to diesel economy

Tests carried out with 100 drivers, relating diesel consumption to driving skills, have revealed that, if all the 100 drivers could drive as well as the best 5, fuel savings would be over 10%.

A careless driver may cover 1000 kms on 280 Liters of diesel; an efficient and driver would need only 250 Liters. A clear saving of 30 Liters in one trip!

Are our drivers efficient?

Do you know that drivers often ignore the finer points of driving, Perhaps unknowingly.  The result of that is more diesel consumption and less profits.

We at PCRA conduct training program for groups of drivers in major transport fleets.  The table below indicates the percentage of drivers in whom various driving flaws were observed before training:

S.No. Reason Percentage
1. Over speeding 42%
2. Rash and rough driving 39%
3. Sudden acceleration 30%
4. Jack rabbit starting 12%
5. Violent and sudden braking due to Non-anticipation of stops 37%
6. Gear change without double de-clutching 39%
7. Improper gear selection 30%
8. Clutch riding 27%
9. Use of a clutch to hold the vehicle gradient 12%
10. Unnecessary riding 12%

Can training improve driving habits?

A good training program explains to drivers the effects of good and bad driving habits, and seeks to remove doubts about personal consequences, such as increase of travel time additional effort required, and so on. It also guides them on how to save diesel.

Some of the bad driving habits identified during Driver Training Programs:-

  • Gear changing by single de-clutching or without use of clutch.
  • Improper synchronization of gears and vehicle speed.
  • Tendency to drive in top gear in congested city traffic.
  • Switching off the engine while in gear.
  • Unnecessary idling.
  • Racing engine for removing crowd.
  • Clutch riding.
  • Delayed acceleration after shifting to higher gears.
  • Poor anticipation of curves, road obstacles and sudden shifting to lower gears at high speeds.
  • Tendency for over-speeding.
  • Racing and longer travels in lower gear.
  • Jack rabbit moving.
  • Sudden and erratic acceleration.
  • Delayed gear changing.
  • Rash and rough driving. Poor anticipation of obstacles and sudden brake application.
  • Negotiation of curves. 

Driver Training Program of PCRA is a unique training methodology which take care of above mentioned bad driving habits. Details of DTP program is given at below address:

Driver Training Program

Motivate your drivers and monitor their performance

It would be a good idea to make an appraisal of the driving skills of your drivers. Calculate the average diesel consumed on the same routes by various drivers. Talk to the careless drivers to improve their driving habits. Give incentives or awards to good drivers. The results will be amazing!

Eliminate smoke

Smoke is a visible indicator of poor engine performance. Traffic surveys at several traffic centers in the country have revealed that over 50% of our heavy commercial vehicles emit visible levels of smoke. A bus or a truck which visibly emits black or dark gray smoke, consumes nearly 10% more diesel. Some transport fleets which have implemented a program of elimination of visible smoke have recorded diesel saving of 10%, reduction of pollution apart.

Why do vehicles smoke?

A study was conducted on a fleet which had a program of rectifying smoking vehicles through maintenance. Injectors were found to be defective in 60% of the cases. Defective fuel injection pumps were responsible for smoke in 39% of the cases and poor engine compression was noticed in 21% of the cases. These are the three principal contributors to smoke. The maintenance of the fuel injection system and top engine overhaul on schedule will eliminate smoke in all vehicles. For a typical operator, the cost of repairs and maintenance will be recovered in a few days and at worst within six months, due to reduced diesel consumption.

Fuel Loss at Traffic intersections

PCRA conceived a research project and entrusted a study with Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) to estimate the average fuel loss per day due to idling of vehicles at all traffic intersections in Delhi. The study revealed that the petrol/diesel wasted by vehicles every day at traffic intersections in Delhi alone are to the tune of 3.22 lacs/1.01 lacs of Liters respectively.

The major remedial measures suggested to reduce vehicular delays and consequent loss of petroleum products due to idling of vehicle:-

  • Installation of vehicle actuated traffic signals.
  • Optimization of signal cycle timings.
  • Synchronization of traffic signals.
  • Provision of adequate road geometric.
  • Switching off engines at red lights.
  • Observance of lane discipline.
  • Following good driving habits.

Can you afford to wait?

Start a smoke elimination program today. If your vehicle emits smoke, check for the following defects, one after the other, and rectify them immediately.

1) Injection should be clean and efficient.

Defective injectors lead to higher diesel consumption. The opening pressure and spray pattern of an injector should always be correct. This can be checked on an injector tester. The injector must be cleaned properly with a brass-wire brush after soaking it in kerosene. Blocked spray holes should be cleaned with a steel wire, of correct diameter.

2) Check fuel injection pump calibration and mounting.

Get the pumps calibrated at a well-equipped center. It is equally important to ensure that the calibrated pump is mounting recommendations. This will ensure delivery of the right quantity of fuel at the right pressure and at the right time to each cylinder for combustion.

3) Check engine compression.

A weak engine may emit black smoke, show poor compression pressure on a compression tester or consume abnormal quantities of engine oil. If your engine exhibits any of these symptoms. Have it checked and overhauled. A top engine overhaul may be adequate in most cases. A delay can prove more costly than you may think. And precious diesel will keep going up in smoke.

Simple tips on better maintenance

tips11. Stop the leakages immediately
Loss of one drop of diesel per second costs you over 2000 Liters every year.



2. Avoid spillagetip2
Check if the fuel tank cap has a good rubber seal.

tip33. Correct lubricant is important
Use standard grade oil and save up to 2% in fuel consumption.



4. Check Tyre pressure regularlytip4
Save on diesel consumption and tyre life.

tip55. Dirt-your worst enemy
Check cleanliness of air cleaner and change oil/air filter periodically. Without an air cleaner, ring wear shoots up 115 times.


6. Keep vehicle ready-to-start, alwaystip6
Check battery, dynamo, voltage regulator and fan belt regularly. Idling at even short halts wastes fuel. 

tip77. Check fuel filters
Use filters of good quality and replace them at recommended intervals.



8. Keep the engine well tunedtip8
Tappet clearance of valves should be checked every month, with a feeler gauge. Also check idling speed.

tip99. Injection should be clean and efficient
In case of engine trouble, check the opening pressure and spray pattern of injectors at once.


10. Check binding brakes and wheel dragtip10
Check for free rotation of wheels by jacking up. Also check brake pedal free play.

tip1111. Keep wheels properly aligned
Improper alignment leads to wobbling, extra diesel consumption and reduced tyre life.

                                                                                                                                                                                                12. Prevent clutch slippingtip12
Replace worn out liners and fingers.

13. Attend to clogged silencer
Check periodically for carbon deposits. Replace the silencer, if necessary.

                                                                                                                                                                                                tip1414. Keep the engine in good condition
If the compression pressure is low or if the engine emits black or dark gray smoke or consumes abnormal quantities of oil, have the engine overhauled immediately.

15. Correct fuel injection pump calibration and mountingtip15
Always get the pump calibrated at well equipped centers. Also, ensure mounting of the calibrated pump as per mounting recommendations.

Simple tips on better driving

tip161. Faster is not economical
The ideal driving speed for diesel economy is 45-55 km/h. Extra diesel is burnt in overcoming increased air resistance at high speeds.


2. Sorry, no idling of vehiclestip17
Idling wastes diesel at the rate of 2 Liters per hour. Switch off the engine for stops of over 15 - 20 seconds.

tip183. Shift gears correctly
Driving in wrong gears can increase diesel consumption by 10%.



4. Stop gently by anticipating stopstip19
Make use of engine as the brake. Sudden braking wastes engine power and diesel. Tests prove that a vehicle driven at 60 km/h can travel a distance of 650 miters, without consuming additional diesel.

tip205. Drive at a steady speed
Accelerate gradually. Sudden acceleration injects more diesel than necessary. Always maintain a steady speed while driving.


tip216. Clutch-riding costs more diesel
Avoid using clutch pedal as a footrest. This causes loss of transmission and rapid wear of clutch components. Avoid holding the vehicle on a slope by using the clutch and accelerator-use the hand brake instead.


Points your drivers must keep in mind

Checks before every journey:        

  • Level of engine oil and radiator water.
  • Leakage of fuel, lubricating oils or water.
  • Tyre pressure and condition.
  • Fan belt tension and condition.
  • Free play of clutch and brake pedals.
  • Engine oil pressure, ampere meter charging rate, air tank pressure and radiator water temperature

Look out for and report:  

  • Leakage in fuel lines.
  • Under-inflated tyres.
  • Self-starting problems.
  • Poor pickup.
  • Binding brakes.
  • Black smoke.
  • Tappet noise.

For further information or assistance, please contact:
Petroleum Conservation Research Association
Sanrakshan Bhavan, 10 - Bhikaiji Cama Place, New Delhi - 110066

Regional Offices

New Delhi 

PCRA, Sanrakshan Bhavan,
10 - Bhikaiji Cama Place, New Delhi - 110066
Ph: 91-11-26198856,Fax: 91-11-26109668
E-mail: pcra[at]pcra[dot]org

PCRA, C-5 Keshva Building
Ground Floor, Near Drive-in Cinema
Bandra-Kurla Complex
Bandra East, Mumbai-400051
Ph: 91-22- 26542587/26542181 Fax: 91-22-26590034
E-mail: pcrawr[at]pcra[dot]org

2,Gariahat Road, Dhakuria,
6th Floor, IOCL Bhavan,
Kolkata -700068
Ph: 91-33-24145092/88 Fax: 91-33-28240486
E-mail: pcraer[at]pcra[dot]org

PCRA, BSNL (TN Circle), Tower-2,
Ground Floor, No-16, Greams Road,
Ph: 91-44-26592181
E-mail: pcrasr[at]pcra[dot]org