Every Mile Counts!

If you are like me, then every red light you get stuck at feels like a rude hand gesture toward your fuel efficiency; and at a time where gas prices are between a nickel and dime away from $4.00 a gallon, every mile counts. So, I have researched things you can do to make your rendezvous with the gas pumps a little less frequent.

Tip #1 Don’t Speed

As tempting as it may be to open up the throttle on those long stretches of highway, doing so may cost your wallet a pretty penny. Every vehicle reaches their optimal fuel economy at a different speed, but it is safe to guestimate that 60 mph is usually the “sweet spot” and for every 5 mph you travel over that it is equivalent to paying an extra $0.31 per gallon of gas! To help control the “lead foot” addiction, try using cruise control and over drive gears.

In addition to speeding, the other symptoms of aggressive driving (i.e. rapid acceleration and breaking) can lower your gas mileage 5% around town, and a whopping 33% on the highway!

Tip #2 Keep Your Car a “Well-oiled Machine”

The numbers that are on motor oil packaging stand for the apparent viscosity of oil when it is cold, denoted by the first number followed by a “W,” and when it is hot, represented by the number following the “W.” (Viscosity refers to the resistance of a substance to motion under applied force) So this means that the oil is designed to flow at a different rate under different temperatures. Each car is specifically designed to use oil rated at a specific viscosity and failing to do so can lower your gas mileage by 1-2% or $0.04 - $0.08 a gallon.
Other maintenance tips to be cognizant of include keeping your tires properly inflated, and your engine tuned. These two practices can give you an extra 7% gas efficiency, saving about $0.25 a gallon. Also, on older model vehicles with carbureted engines be sure to change that air filter, it can save you 2-6% efficiency on average; or 14% if the filter was very clogged.

Tip #3 Keep Things Light

While driving around, be sure to keep unnecessary items out of your vehicle (like those golf clubs my fiancé insists on keeping in his trunk “just in case”), because for every 100lbs in the trunk, your fuel economy drops by 1-2%. Also, while traveling, try to store luggage and additional cargo inside the vehicle, as the drag from luggage on roof mounted racks can decrease mpg by 5%.
Another interesting tip, is that by combining your errands into one multipurpose trip you will save TWICE as much fuel than several short trips, covering the same distance, with a cold start every time. Once your engine is warmed up it is more efficient than a cold one. Also, steer clear of idling for prolonged periods of time in cold (or any) weather, it can use up to a quarter gallon of fuel per hour, 30 seconds is plenty of time to get started on those chilly mornings.

For more tips you can go to www.fueleconomy.gov or feel free to share your own tips in the comments section below!