By Derek Mau
11 Gas Saving Tips
With gasoline and diesel prices continually rising at an astronomic rate, people are looking for ways to keep their fuel bills from devastating their already tight budget. Without investing into a hybrid or some other alternative fuel vehicle – which has an huge initial cost – you can go a little farther on that tank of gas and realize some immediate results by using some or all of the following gas saving tips. We compiled an easy list of things you can do right away and make fewer trips to the gas station.
- Drive slower! Arriving at your destination a few minutes later goes a long way towards extending that tank of gas. Contrary to popular belief, the world as you know is not going to disintegrate if it takes a little longer to arrive at your destination. The fact is every 5 MPH that you drive over 60 MPH can reduce your fuel economy by as much as 10%. Can you guess how much your stress level is reduced by not rushing to your next stop?
- Remove roof racks when not in use. Ski season is over, buddy. Roof racks add a huge amount of wind resistance and noise. Taking off those roof racks could improve fuel economy 2 – 4 mpg. If you use your roof rack less than once a week, it is worth the time and effort to remove the rack when not in use.
- Drive steadily or use cruise control. By putting some extra distance between you and the car ahead, you can do less braking and accelerating. Basically, take the long view of the road and brake easy. Using cruise control makes a big difference affecting fuel economy. First, it smooths out the driver’s accelerator input by preventing nervous “surging.” Second, it makes the driver take the long view of the road rather than reacting to every change in the traffic around them.
- Accelerate a little slower. Accelerating really fast and people who have heavy feet can do a lot to improve their car’s fuel economy by easing up on the accelerator.
- Shift sooner. Manual transmission cars allow you to change to the next highest gear as soon as possible. However, if you shift too early this causes the engine to “bog down” and in effect leads to premature wearing of engine parts. For drivers who own cars with automatic transmissions, I emphasize utilizing tips #1 and #4.
- Remove snow tires. Traveling on big knobby tires consumes extra fuel. Wheel and tire size also affect fuel economy. Anything that reduces the rotational weight and drag will help improve your car’s gas mileage.
- Establish driver comfort. Should you turn on the air conditioner or roll down the windows? Running the A/C can reduce fuel economy 10% – 20% with the additional load to the engine. This is true with older model cars, but more modern cars are affected less from the load by the A/C compressor. The general rule to follow is not to excessively use your air conditioning as this will cause your car to burn more fuel. On the other hand, driving with the windows down is also inefficient as the drag on the car increases, especially at high speeds. Use air conditioning for highway driving only when necessary and lower the windows on slower journeys.
- Remove excess weight from the trunk and inside of the car. Extra weight reduces mileage, especially when driving up inclines.
- Car pool to work or school. Ride sharing also reduces traffic congestion, gives the driver easier maneuverability, and greater “steady speed” economy in the HOV lane (refer to tip #3).
- Avoid excessive idling. Stopping longer than a minute? Shut it down.
- Keep up with your car’s maintenance. This means taking the car in for its scheduled tune ups, replacing the air filter, and keeping the tires inflated to the proper pressure.
References on the Internet:
Edmunds.com – We Test the Tips
What Really Saves Gas? And How Much?
Six methods of gas saving tips and changing your driving habits are tested. Results list the effectiveness and the amount of savings that can be realized.
About.com: cars – Top Ten Fuel Saving Tips
Title says it all. Tip #2 is probably the least effective tip in the article.
Federal Trade Commission – Important Information That Can Save You Money
Slick Flash animated page with tips to help you get the most out of every tank full of gas
FEG (fueleconomy.gov) – Gas Mileage Tips
Links to articles and a video to help make your car’s gas mileage better