Thursday January 30 2014

Small engines vs “good” fuel consumption

By default, small engines are supposed to translate into spending less money at the fuel stations. However, our driving styles vary and to the shock of many people, small engines may not necessarily offer us great fuel economy depending on a number of issues as discussed below.

Jude: Often times we do not seem to notice when we hit potholes. The suspension gets affected and we may have to pay through the nose after some time . Let us not forget that used cars when subjected to potholes, will lose their suspensions faster. Add this to the fact that we have an obsession with small size engines.

Paul: Like your Honda. What is the size?

Jude: Yeah, you could say that, it’s 1300cc. But moving on, cars such as the Toyota Vitz, Duet, the tiny pick-ups (Nyongeza) with 600cc are so common meaning many people like to spend less on fuel.

Mustafa: And the Daihatsu Terios.
Jude: Yeah, quite a number of such “budget” cars. That shows you that we have an obsession with small engines and a preconceived notion of small engines equated to what we call good fuel consumption or fuel economy. Experts like Paul, may beg to differ and say someone with a 2000cc car may have better fuel economy than one with a 1400cc car.

Mustafa: You have presented a number of issues. You know fuel consumption is such a sticky issue that people have gone ahead to determine the value of used cars depending on fuel consumption. You find that a small car with good fuel consumption like a Toyota Premio or maybe a Mercedes Benz C-Class (they are thought to be excellent). Now you present a question about small engines, is it by default that small engines should have better fuel consumption or better fuel mileage?

Paul: I wouldn’t want to disagree with you but present something parallel. I will give you an example. If you bought a Mercedes Benz C-200 and instead of a C-230 it would be based on the assumption that the C-200 is more fuel efficient which is contrary. Facts have proved that a C-230 is by far better in terms of fuel consumption than the C-200 because of the weight-engine ratio. The 2.3 litre is able to carry the weight of the car in an effortlessly. When you drive the smaller engine you need higher revs per minute to reach that peak while with the 2.3litre, the output and power is less so you end up consuming less. The weight engine ratio comes into play. A smaller engine is supposed to consume better but it may not necessarily be the case.

Jude: In other words, Paul, you are trying to say that guys with the C-180, who I think could be the majority are badly off.

Mustafa: Not badly off, do not just sum it up like that because there are a number of factors that come into play. The driving is different, the way they brake, the kind of stuff they have in their boots are different, the quality of fuel they use, the fluids, maintenance records. But imagine, Jude, if you gauge your size and Paul’s and you are both carrying a jerrican of water.

Jude: That’s a David and Goliath case, even the cars we drive are different. It is like comparing a huge Land Rover and to a small Honda.

Mustafa: (laughs heartily), you are both carrying the same weight (20 litres of water) but one is doing it effortlessly. The same thing can be said about cars. There are a number of variables.

Paul: If you are driving gently, you will achieve what I have mentioned, if you drive aggressively, you will not .

Mustafa: Jude, you drive a Honda Fit, someone will drive the same car but load it with matooke , sacks of charcoal, you will never have the same fuel figures, the other person will always spend more on fuel by default. Does it struggle on the hill?

Jude: It is very efficient, I have never had any issues with it, it does not struggle at all and neither do I load it with such stuff.

Paul: Like Mustafa said about variables, maintenance is key. The spark plugs, fuel injectors, fuel pumps, if you don’t maintain them well, the valves are dirty, and you don’t regularly change your oil, if you use counterfeit fuel then what do you expect?

Mustafa: What is counterfeit fuel?

Jude: He meant adulterated.

Mustafa: By the time you use counterfeit you must be badly off.

Paul: These days you have petrol mixed with paraffin. We should also talk about air conditioning.

Mustafa: Yes, we start with Jude, you use the AC in your car?

Jude: No, I do not.

Mustafa: Or you do not have one?

Jude: Do not joke around, it is a modern 2002 car.

Paul: All modern cars have ACs.

Mustafa: You do not use it all?

Jude: I only use it when in need, say to defog the screen.

Paul: You are fuel conscious. My interest would be what load it impacts on the small engine when you switch it on.

Jude: Despite having a small engine, it does not mean that I should just spend on fuel. We have unfortunately run out of time, we shall delve deeper into how the AC impacts on your fuel consumption next week.