Fuel-Saving Tips For The Holiday Weekend

May 21, 2009
gas pump

gas pump

As pump prices rise are on the rise again, and crude oil prices and refinery issues suggest they’ll continue to rise in the weeks ahead. Yet—reality check, here—we’re still in the middle of humdinger of a recession, right?

With your disposable income for this holiday weekend in mind, here are ten straightforward ways to help ease the strain on your wallet:

Keep the gas guzzlers in the garage! Super-sized SUV use about three times the gas of a compact sedan—to go the same distance! You probably know this already, but take time out and crunch the dollar figure for your trip. If you’re not really going to use the space, then why don’t you park the SUV in the garage, take the smaller car out if you can manage, and save some money?

Keep the tires properly inflated. Driving with your tires underinflated is not only dangerous—you also use up to ten percent more fuel. Check tire pressures weekly, or whenever you fill your gas tank. Keep in mind that the pressures given in your owner’s manual or doorsill will be for when the tires are cold: If you’ve just been driving, add 3-4 psi.

Keep your vehicle in tune. If your vehicle is overdue for its periodic service, now’s the time to have it done. Simple routine maintenance items like replacing the fuel and air filters, maintaining the ignition system, and changing the oil can make sure your vehicle is getting its best mileage. Check your owner’s manual for more service/replacement intervals.

Maintain steady speeds whenever possible.
Avoid quick starts. Accelerate moderately to your desired cruising speed and maintain it, using the cruise control for long distances where traffic isn’t an issue. In traffic, try to anticipate the vehicles ahead so you don’t have to vary your speed as much.

Obey speed limits! Most cars use much more fuel at 80 mph than at 60 or even 70. Keep to the speed limit, and you’ll probably notice a difference in your pump budget. And since traffic’s usually the real issue, chances are you’ll get there almost as quickly, too.

Turn off the A/C at low speeds. Air conditioning systems demand a significant portion of the engine’s power, especially at low speeds. Around town, at less than 40 mph, you’ll save fuel by keeping the A/C off. At higher speeds, it usually uses less energy to instead keep the windows rolled up and use the A/C as needed.

Don’t be idle. Simply put, prolonged idling wastes gas and it isn’t good for your engine either. Whether you’re sitting in traffic or in a parking lot for more than a minute, turn off the engine. Otherwise, you’re wasting it! If the engine’s already warm, it doesn’t take any extra gas to restart.

Use the fuel your vehicle requires. If your vehicle requires regular unleaded, you’re throwing the extra money away by using premium. It likely won’t give any significant difference in performance, fuel economy, or smoothness. But if you have a high-performance vehicle that specifies premium unleaded fuel (there’s usually a reminder inside the fuel-filler door), you may get significantly worse fuel economy with lower-grade fuel, offsetting the lower per-gallon cost of the cheap stuff. The fail-safe rule is to just use the grade of gasoline recommended by the manufacturer.

Avoid using rooftop carriers if you can.
If you can fit it all in the car, do so. At highway speeds, rooftop carriers completely interrupt the aerodynamics of most vehicles and leave you slurping lots of extra fuel. And of course, don’t carry any of that extra weight if you can get by leaving it at home. No, we’re not talking about the mother-in-law!

Combine trips. If you’re staying around town for the weekend, do you need to run a particular errand at the moment, or can you wait and combine it with another trip? If you combine tasks, you’re likely to save time, mileage, and money.

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