If you ask the average person these days where it hurts, chances are he or she will say there is a sharp pain in the wallet area. The rapid rise in gasoline prices has affected most Americans and ignited a sense of anger and helplessness. While there seems to be no immediate remedy in sight, there are some basic steps to take within our power that can help maximize your vehicle’s fuel economy and lessen the pump shock when carpooling or limiting driving isn’t an option.
First, control the need to speed. Aside from being unsafe, driving beyond the speed limit severely reduces your gas mileage. Avoid fast acceleration and frequent braking. Reduction in mileage of as much as 33 percent on the highway and 5 percent on residential streets is the result of unnecessary, aggressive driving.
While every vehicle is different, nearly every make experiences a sharp decrease in mileage at speeds above 60 mph. A basic formula to remember is that with a per gallon price of $3.00, for every 5 miles above 60 mph you drive, you are paying close to another .22 cents per gallon. Ouch.
Don’t ignore those dash lights, either. They aren’t little red amusements that the car manufacturer puts in there for fun. If your Check Engine light comes on and doesn’t go off, it’s well worth the time and money to have a reputable mechanic check it out. Replacing a bad oxygen sensor can improve mileage as much as 40 percent and a new air filter can save another 10 percent.
Tires also play an important part in fuel economy, not to mention safety. Tires kept inflated to the recommended psi will also last longer. You will save another 3.3 percent in mileage by following the inflation guidelines for your tire size.
Finally, reduce your baggage, and not just the emotional and psychological stuff. Large roof racks or cargo carriers interfere with the aerodynamics of your car and can decrease the fuel economy by up to 5 percent. Pack luggage in the trunk, but don’t overload there, either. Junk in the trunk will literally drag you down. That’s not to say you should unload your spare tire and jack, but get rid of extra weight that seriously doesn’t need to be in your car. Lugging an additional 100 pounds in your truck can reduce fuel economy by 1 to 2 percent.
Sometimes doing something, even if it’s a small thing, can make a difference and make you feel like you have some control. Try a few of these tips and the next time you fill up at the pump, mentally deduct the savings and think of it as your own personal discount.