Want to Save a Bundle on Fuel?

July 3, 2008
Want to save a bundle on each tank of gas? Slow down.

It may seem like there's not much difference between going 70 and 75 mph, but according to Department of Energy data, that 5 mph difference equals a roughly 5 percent difference in fuel consumption. Cut your speed from 75 to 55, and you'll boost your mileage by as much as 30 percent, says the DOE.

Put another way, reports the Detroit News, you'll save the equivalent of 30 cents a gallon in the typical American vehicle for every 5 mph you slow down from 75.

Of course, there's a downside. Long trips might take significantly longer - nearly an extra 2.5 hours for a five-hour jaunt at 55 mph compared with 75. The time taken for short jaunts, however, is negligible. At 75 mph, that 10-mile commute would take about 8 minutes - if roads are clear, which isn't common at rush hour - but less than 11 minutes at 55.

There's going pressure on lawmakers, as I note in a separate blog entry, to reduce speed limits, which have been creeping up since Congress loosened the limits on states. But truckers and other motoring groups are expected to put up a strong fight of their own.

There are other ways to save fuel, from checking your tires to tuning your engine, according to the site, fueleconomy.gov. Every 1 psi below the proper rating will lower mileage by 0.4 percent. Since most Americans tend to never check their tires, it's not unusual for pressures to be off 5 pounds. That means a 2 percent mileage loss, or as much as a half mile a gallon, on a typical compact to midsize sedan.

Meanwhile, if you're running around with a trunk seat or backseat full of stuff, consider cleaning house, er, car. Every 100 pounds of added weight can curb your mileage anywhere up to a full mile per gallon, experts reveal, depending on your vehicle.

What are YOU doing to save fuel?

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