Gas Efficient Driving
Your gas mileage depends more on the way you drive than on what car you are driving (of course, smaller is still better). Do you ever wonder why you don’t seem to get the gas mileage that is advertised as the EPA rating for your car? Those tests are conducted under ideal conditions (weather, traffic, car condition) driven by an ideal driver. Most of us don’t realize how much our driving habits affect our mileage, and what little effort it takes to improve it significantly. I can get 47 MPG on my 2001 Honda Civic (EPA’s fuel economy rating for it is 32 MPG for combined city and highway). That’s higher than what most people can get out of a hybrid Toyota Prius. So here are some tips to get better gas mileage – saving you money and helping our environment at the same time.
The car manual is your friend. Everything you need to know about maintaining your car is in your manual. Follow the recommended maintenance schedule. You don’t need an oil change every three to five thousand miles as recommended by Jiffy Lube. But you do need to make sure your engine is healthy, the air filter gets replaced regularly, and your tires are inflated to proper levels. All this information is listed in your car manual. Don’t let the mechanic sell you services you don’t need. But make sure you are doing what needs to be done to keep your car in tip top shape.
Pump up your tires. Fueleconomy.gov states that keeping tires inflated to the recommended pressure can improve fuel economy by up to 5%.
No need for speed. Speeding, cutting in and out of lanes, tailgating, and other smartass maneuvers save you very little time and end up costing you at the gas station. Driving at an even speed is much more efficient than always accelerating and stopping. Don’t smash your gas pedal when you start moving and if you see a red light up ahead, just take your foot off the gas and coast until you need to brake. Chances are it’ll turn green before you even get there. By anticipating stops and accelerating moderately, Edmunds.com found that you can get up to 37% in gas savings. This also saves you from having to replace your brake pads too often. By far, this has increased my mileage the most. I've explained more why speed has such an impact in How to save $0.54 per gallon on gas.
The speed limit is for your gas mileage’s good. Going above 60mph significantly decreases your fuel efficiency. According to fueleconomy.gov, each 5mph you drive over 60mph reduces your fuel economy by 10%.
The windows vs. air conditioning debate. It’s been hotly debated as to whether it’s more fuel efficient to have your windows down or the air conditioning on. The answer is both. At low speeds, having the windows down is a better option. But as the speed increases, having the windows down creates higher air resistance, which decreases fuel economy. According to brainfoodpodcast.com (episode 2), the exact speed where the windows down option crosses over to be less efficient than having the air conditioner on is 50mph.
Stop idling. You use up gas when your car is on idle. This doesn’t mean turning off your car in the middle of the road when you’re in traffic or at a red light, but keep in mind it’s better to turn off your car and restart than to leave it on idle. Also, many short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as one multipurpose trip covering the same distance when the engine is warmed up and efficient. You would save on mileage too by not having to cover the same area twice if you plan your errands ahead of time.
The weight in your rear. If you’re carrying excess pounds in your trunk (no pun intended), get rid of it. Weight contributes to your gas mileage too, you know.
Driving efficienctly so you can save money at the gas station is great incentive to be more mindful when you drive. But more importantly it's a very easy and cheap way to contribute to saving our environment. Not to mention it'll make the roads a little safer and a happier place to be.