How to Optimize Fuel and Mileage while Driving During Traffic Jams?

No matter how much we hate them, traffic jams are a part and parcel of the urban commute, and we just cannot ignore them. The sad part is that the traffic jams can consume fuel up to 3.5 times higher and also contribute to 27% more greenhouse gases emissions. Not only that, there are other downsides of traffic jams like delays in appointments, long hours on the road, higher wear and tear of a vehicle, etc. The increase in fuel consumption stings when the fuel prices are ever-increasing on a monthly basis. So you can definitely help yourself with some tips on how to increase fuel efficiency in traffic. Here are some ways through which you can optimize your fuel efficiency while driving during a traffic jam. 

“Not Very Good Fuel Economy” by foilman is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Be gentle on the throttle

Make sure that when you drive in a dense traffic zone, you give the least amount of throttle inputs to your vehicle. When you mash the accelerator pedal, the brains of your car basically increase the fuel flow into the engine to give a quicker response. In this process, a lot of fuel is wasted and just by increasing the fuel flow, the engine will still take time to overcome the initial inertia. So for the sake of better fuel efficiency, use the throttle pedal smoothly and push the throttle as softly as possible. You are basically conserving the energy, and using extra energy just to feel the fast-moving sensation is not much efficient. Diesel engines shine in this scenario as they have loads of torques at a low RPM range, and you can simply sail away from a standstill without even touching the go pedal.  

Anticipate the road conditions

A good answer to how to increase fuel efficiency in traffic. This method will not only make you a safe driver but will also help you to increase the fuel efficiency of your vehicle in a traffic jam. The stops and starts in traffic jams kill the fuel efficiency, but if you adjust the driving according to the flow of the traffic, then you can greatly minimize the frequent stopping of a vehicle. By properly planning and analyzing the traffic ahead, you can plan your moves and maneuver your vehicle in such a manner that will prevent unnecessary acceleration and braking. You can also maximize the use of engine braking, by driving like this, which will further help conserve energy and save fuel. 

Reduce the weight of the vehicle

We are so busy in our day-to-day life that we do not realize the amount of extra weight that we carry in our vehicle, which is just dead weight and reduces the fuel efficiency of your vehicle. Weight is the biggest enemy of efficiency and when you keep on adding weight, the efficiency will drop in proportion. The engine will be under much strain, and you will use more fuel. If there are any unnecessary stray items, bags, or trash lying in the vehicle’s boot, then you should get rid of them. If you have installed a roof rack for a long journey, then make sure that you remove it after the end of your journey. Roof racks are not only heavy but also cause a lot of aerodynamic drag, costing more fuel. Reducing weight should be your main priority on how to increase fuel efficiency in traffic.

Switch off at longer signals

This is a kind of holy rule to save fuel while driving during a traffic jam. We may not know but even at standstill, the engine of a vehicle needs fuel to keep itself idle and also run the accessory loads, which sips away from the fuel. If the wait time is more than 60 seconds, you should try to switch off the vehicle. Modern vehicles are even equipped with an auto start-stop system that can save up to 8% of fuel while driving in a traffic jam. What’s more, the modern car engines are so well-built that they will not complain about frequent start-stop cycles. So you should try to switch off your vehicle, as much as possible. In summers, it can be difficult to follow as the air conditioner of a vehicle also runs through the engine. 

Maintain your vehicle

As alarming as it may sound, the truth is that a poorly maintained vehicle can have an increased fuel consumption by 50%. You should make sure that you perform periodic maintenance at the set time and the critical components such as brakes and drivetrain are not producing unnecessary drag. Certain components such as air filters must be changed or cleaned on time as it may affect the air to fuel ratio. Most car users like to skip periodic services, thinking that they will save some money. But the truth is, you will lose a lot in the long run. A healthy car will perform optimally and deliver good fuel efficiency. 


These are some tips and tricks that can answer the question of how to increase fuel efficiency in traffic. You can also use some unconventional methods like carpooling, switching to alternative fuels such as CNG, etc. Also keep a check on little things like maintaining the correct tire pressure, using fuel from a good fuel vendor, and driving more sensibly. These tips can help you save a great amount of fuel and increase your monthly savings.