Gas Saving Tips
The high gas prices we pay at the pump these days affect us all by one degree or another. Unfortunately, we will continue to feel the pinch going forward since even the most optimistic prognosticators predict we will never see pre-Katrina prices again. Interestingly and despite the high cost of gas, studies have shown that drivers are not changing their driving habits. So where can we find relief?
The most obvious advice is to conserve by driving less, carpooling, taking the bus or metro, or by walking or biking wherever possible. But since these aren’t always convenient or practical solutions, the next best answer is to learn to drive smarter. Here are our suggestions towards that end.
Tip #1 – Remove Unnecessary Weight: Extra weight kills fuel efficiency. So lighten the load of your car by taking a good look at what you are carrying in your car – in other words, get the junk out of your trunk. According to the AAA, for every 100 pounds of excess weight that is removed from a vehicle, this will yield an additional mile per gallon. Therefore, we recommend scrutinizing what’s in your trunk, behind and under the seats, and even what’s in your glove compartment.
Tip#2 – Reduce Wind Resistance: If you're planning on taking a trip, try to fit the luggage inside your car instead of strapping it to the top where it creates wind resistance; i.e., drag. And unless regularly used, remove any luggage carriers, bike racks, or ski racks from the top of the car since these too can create drag and thus lower your gas mileage.
Tip #3 –Keep your engine tuned: Fixing a car that is noticeably out of tune or has failed an emissions test will significantly improve gas mileage. By simply following the manufacturer’s recommended service intervals and maintenance schedules, you can improve your mileage by ten to twenty percent when compared to an out-of-tune engine. In this regard, use a reliable dealer or reputable independent shop like Curry’s which uses the newest diagnostic equipment and has access to the latest information.
Tip #4 – Use the Correct Grade of Gas: One of the easiest things you can do for your car and your wallet is to use the correct grade of gas. Check your owner's manual and use the gas that it recommends for your car and fill up when you see cheap gas. Also and in this regard, we recommend periodically using a quality fuel additive. Deposits can build up around your fuel injectors over time which blocks the flow of gas to your engine. Using a proven fuel injector cleaner like BG 44K will allow the engine to run more efficiently.
Tip #5 – Properly Inflate Your Tires: Under inflated tires waste million gallons of gas per day and can increase fuel consumption by six percent. Be sure to maintain the manufacturer-recommended tire pressure and check them every two weeks, preferably in the morning when they are cold. And if this weren’t reason enough, properly inflated tires are safer and will last longer.
Tip #6 – Accelerate and brake smoothly: When driving, accelerate gently, break gradually, and avoid hard stops. Fast starts can double fuel consumption when compared to gradual acceleration and driving at lower speeds will also get you better mileage. Also, avoid excess idling whenever possible. Idling gets 0 miles per gallon and cars with larger engines typically waste more gas at idle than cars with smaller engines.
Tip #7 – Use the Cruise Control: Use the cruise control and overdrive gears when driving on the highway. The cruise control will help maintain a constant speed and, in most cases, will save gas. Also keep in mind that for every 5 mph over 60 you go, it is like adding a dime onto a gallon of gas. That alone can improve fuel efficiency by 15 percent. Using overdrive gears will also increase gas mileage and reduces engine wear.
Tip #8 – Keep the Air Filter Clean: A clogged air filter can drop fuel economy by up to ten percent. Replacing a clogged air filter, much like changing an oil filter, keeps airborne contaminants from damaging the inside of your engine. Not only will replacing a dirty air filter save gas, it will protect your engine.
Tip #9 – Combine Errands: According to the AAA, three out of every five miles are driven to places other than commuting to work. Where you can, plan the most efficient route, pare down the number of errands, and choose shopping areas where you can tackle several errands without moving the car.
Tip #10 – Use the right oil: You can improve your gas mileage by one to two percent by using the manufacturer's recommended grade of motor oil. For example, using 10W-30 motor oil in an engine designed to use 5W-30 can lower your gas mileage by 1-2 percent. Using 5W-30 in an engine designed for 5W-20 can lower your gas mileage by 1-1.5 percent. Also, look for motor oil that says "Energy Conserving" on the API performance symbol to be sure it contains friction-reducing additives.
It’s important to ensure that your car is able to perform at its most efficient level. But taking it to a dependable shop like Mildmay Automotive is only half the battle. As pointed out above, changes in driving habits are essential to keeping gas costs in check too. By learning to drive smarter and following these simple guidelines, you will keep cash in your pocket – not putting it in your gas tank – regardless of the kind of car you drive.