With summer travel on our minds, Americans are naturally concerned whether that family car trip is going to be cost-prohibitive in gasoline expense.
Buying a fuel-efficient car or hybrid is one way to save on gas, but not everyone can do that. Here are 10 effective things you can do to reduce fuel costs and increase your car’s fuel efficiency in the process.
1. Roll up windows. In town, having the windows open may not be such a bad idea, but for highway driving it’s much more fuel-efficient to keep them rolled up and use the air conditioning. With the windows down on the highway, the increased air pressure acts like a parachute slowing you down and cutting into your car’s fuel efficiency.
2. Use cruise. Maintaining a consistent speed using cruise control is good advice when conditions permit. The practice of speeding up and slowing down repeatedly winds up costing drivers in fuel efficiency.
3. Drive 70, not 80. If the posted speed limit is 70 mph, and you can safely do that, then do it. Why drive at 80 mph because you think you’ll get there faster? That 10-mph difference can save you up to four miles per gallon on the highway.
4. Take it easy in the city. Aggressive driving – speeding up from the light, jamming on the brakes – won’t get you home any faster in city driving. On the other hand, driving smoothly can improve your gas mileage by up to 20 percent.
5. Forget the drive-through lane. Getting morning coffee is a daily ritual for many people. But waiting in the drive-through lane with the engine running just doesn’t make sense – not if you’re trying to save gas. Instead, park the car, shut off the engine, and go inside. Idling for 15 minutes burns through an average of a quarter of a gallon of gasoline, equivalent to adding another dollar to the cost of your coffee.
6. Ditch hood and roof ornaments. Displaying sports team flags on the roof or sporting a hood or front bumper ornament creates aerodynamic drag that could cost you fuel. Up to a third of a vehicle’s fuel is used to overcome wind resistance at highway speeds.
7. Watch out for low tire pressure. Tires five pounds under the manufacturer’s recommended pressure may not affect how your car drives, but tire underinflation makes the engine work harder just to turn the wheels. Check your car’s tires once a month. If a tire is 10 pounds under pressure, it can cut fuel efficiency by more than three percent.
8. Clean out the trunk. Accumulated cargo contributes to serious decreases in fuel efficiency. The EPA estimates that every 100 pounds of weight can reduce fuel economy by two percent. Let’s say you’re carrying home six bags (240 pounds) of planting soil or mulch you got on sale at Home Depot or the nursery. That extra weight adds almost five percent to your fuel costs for the trip.
9. Bundle up on errands. Plan out the week ahead and combine errands into one day. Keep this in mind: An engine at operating temperature is up to 50 percent more efficient than a cold engine. Save on fuel costs by bundling errands.
10. Pay attention to the “check engine” light. It might be a loose gas cap or advance warning of something seriously wrong with your car, but when you see the “check engine” light, pay attention to it. Serious engine problems can cut fuel economy up to 40 percent.
To see how two GM fuel-economy engineers improved fuel efficiency in two identical Chevrolet Cruzes, check out the link below.
[General Motors via PR Newswire]