The summer months can bring higher gas prices, and this summer is no exception. Finding out ways to stretch a tank of gas may mean altering driving habits and keeping an eye on car maintenance. A few changes in your normal lifestyle can make a difference in your gas mileage and your wallet.
Rather than running an errand each day, make one day a week your errand day. This can save you both time and money. Several short trips from a cold start can use up to twice the amount of fuel as a longer trip when the engine is warm. Also, plan your trip before you leave to find the most fuel-efficient route.
Check with your company to see if it will allow you to work four 10-hour days. You will only be driving to and from work four days a week instead of five. Also check to see if your company will allow you to stagger your work times. If you can avoid gridlock in traffic, your car will consume less fuel than if you spend a considerable amount of time in stop and go traffic. You may be able to share the cost of commuting to work by carpooling with your co-workers. You will cut your fuel costs plus save the wear on your car. Some employers allow their employees to telecommute; working from home, even a day or two a week, will save gas if your employer allows it.
Own more than one vehicle? Drive the one that gets the best gas mileage if possible.
Check to see if public transit is available and convenient for you.
Looking to purchase a vehicle? Buy one that gets good gas mileage. The difference between twenty miles-per-gallon and forty miles-per-gallon is huge.
Do not use credit cards when paying for gas. If you do not pay off the balance each month, you could end up spending a lot with interests charges.
If possible, consider walking or biking to your intended destinations.
Tips and Tricks
Keep the gas tank full, but don’t overfill.
If you’re in stop-and-go traffic or low speed traffic, do not use the air conditioner. It is more fuel efficient to travel with the windows lowered. However, once you reach greater speeds, as on the highway, using the air conditioner is more fuel efficient than lowered windows due to the additional drag.
Empty your trunk of unneeded items. An extra 100 pounds in your trunk reduces a typical vehicle’s fuel economy by 1-2%.
Try not to idle your engine for more than five minutes. If you are stuck in traffic and anticipate your idling time to be longer than that, turn the engine off.
New cars do not need to be Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½warmed up’ as cars in the past did. Today, you can take off from a cold start and save the gas you would have used warming up the car.
Do not travel fast in low gears.
Use your overdrive gear as this will cause your engine to slow down, saving gas as well as wear on the engine.
Drive the speed limit using cruise control when possible to maintain a constant speed. Driving at faster speeds can lower your gas mileage by 33%.
Accelerate slowing when the light changes to green. Quick accelerations just waste gas.
Tailgating? Quick stops and starts reduces fuel economy by 50% and adds wear on brakes and tires.
Most cars are built to run on regular unleaded gasoline; no need to buy the higher priced mixtures. (Be sure to check your owner’s manual to see what kind of gasoline is recommended for your car before switching).
Do not rev your engine as this needlessly wastes gas.
Bypass the full-service pump in favor of self-service. You may save up to 24 cents per gallon.
Parked in the sun? Roll down your windows and let the hot air escape before turning on your air conditioner.
A roof rack can be an asset if you have a small car and need the extra space. However, be sure to unload your roof rack of unnecessary items to reduce aerodynamic drag and increase fuel economy. The best place to pack items is still in the trunk when possible.
Necessary Car Maintenance
Cars in poor running condition are less fuel-efficient. Maintaining a good-running vehicle will go a long way to maximizing your gas mileage.
Tire Pressure- Purchase a tire gauge and check at least once a month. Under-inflated tires can reduce gas mileage up to 10% and can also increase wear on the tires. Also, have tires properly balanced and aligned.
Brakes- Have your brakes checked out to insure the calipers, brake shoes, and drums are in good order. All brakes drag, but an expert will know if yours are dragging the correct amount or too much.
Air Filter- A dirty air filter may decrease fuel efficiency up to 20%. Replace when necessary.
Spark Plugs- Worn spark plugs can decrease gas mileage by 12% and can cause your engine to perform ineffectively. Be sure to change your spark plug wires as well, preferably with each change of spark plugs.
Fuel Filter- Replace every three years or three thousand miles, or as recommended by the manufacturer. A clogged fuel filter may reduce engine performance and allow dirt to contaminate the fuel system, decreasing fuel efficiency.
Distributor Cap- A poor performing engine will waste gas. Check your distributor cap for cracks or wear and replace if necessary to insure optimum engine performance.
Oxygen Sensor- A drop of 10-15% in fuel efficiency can be caused by a faulty oxygen sensor.
Oil Change- A vehicle with clean oil operates more smoothly, maintaining fuel efficiency.
Keeping your car in good running condition will ensure your vehicle’s optimum fuel efficiency. And making a few lifestyle changes, as referenced above, will help ensure you are doing all you can to conserve your gasoline as well as save your money. Summertime often brings higher gas prices; however, during any season, good conservation habits can benefit you all year long.