Gas Saving Tips
Gas is going up again. Now in most areas of the U.S. it's over $2 a gallon. Here are some gas saving ideas I've collected over the years. I use these myself to get better than the EPA mileage estimates on every vehicle I own:
1. Shut it off. If you're idling your engine waiting at railroad crossings, drive-through windows, and in other similar situations, shut it off instead. If you're idling longer than 45 seconds, it'd be cheaper to shut it off and then re-start. Avoid drive-throughs completely if possible. Often I find that when I go into a bank or fast-food restaurant, I walk out and drive away while the same cars are still sitting in the drive-through line--almost all of them with their engines idling and wasting fuel.
2. Keep tires properly inflated. Use the inflation pressure given in the vehicle's owner's manual, which is also often printed on a sticker on the driver's door.
3. Combine trips. This is especially important in colder months, because a cold engine uses a lot more fuel than a warm one. If you combine several errands into one trip, the engine stays somewhat warm as you're stopped at each place.
4. Avoid extended warm-ups. In above-freezing weather, just start it up and drive off. If you want to warm it up some in below-freezing weather, keep the idling to two or three minutes at most. Long periods of idling keep the engine colder longer, wasting fuel. Plus you're getting zero miles per gallon with the engine idling. Anytime the engine is cold, drive easily for the first few miles to reduce wear on the engine.
5. Keep speeds moderate and acceleration gentle. Not only do both of these practices save fuel, but they also help your vehicle last longer. The faster you go, the more fuel you will use. Going 75 mph down the highway uses more fuel than going 65, in every single case.
6. Change your oil and air filter. Dirty oil adds friction, which wastes gas. A dirty air filter causes poor airflow through the engine, which also wastes gas.
7. Avoid "gas saving" gadgets. They are a waste of money. Any gadget that would really save gas would be included on the car as standard. Many of these items will not only cost you money, but will actually make the car run worse or could even cause damage.
8. Don't use premium fuel unless your owner's manual calls for it, or unless your vehicle "pings" heavily on regular unleaded fuel. Higher octane fuel than the engine requires will NOT cause it to get better fuel economy, but it will just cost you more to fill up your tank. Some vehicles with very high mileage do need the higher octane fuel if they "ping" (spark knock) heavily on regular unleaaded. Light knocking on acceleration is not a problem, but if the knocking continues at a constant speed, or is very loud, move up to a high enough octane to reduce it. Persistent, heavy knocking reduces an engine's efficiency and can damage it in extreme cases.
9. Pickup truck drivers, don't lower the tailgate when driving on the highway. A GM study showed that this does not improve fuel economy, and can even make it worse. With the gate closed, air flows across the top of the bed and does not get "caught" by the tailgate. The airflow patterns are less efficient with the tailgate open or removed. Plus, running with the tailgate down can increase the likelihood and severity of a rear-end accident, since your tailgate will be extended behind your rear bumper.
- If your car has air conditioning, be aware that the a/c compressor often runs in many other positions besides the a/c settings. Frequently it runs in the defrost or "mix" position, as well as "bi-level." Obviously, use the defrost when needed, but change the setting to "heat," "floor," or "vent" if defrosting or defogging is not needed. The a/c can cut 10 to 15 percent off of your fuel mileage, so there's no point in running it when it's not needed. Any time you are warming the air coming into the vehicle, the a/c is normally not needed. If you have one, keep your airflow setting in the "fresh" or "outside" mode, not "recirculate" or "inside." Recirculating inside air during cool weather can cause your windows to fog up.