With fuel prices remaining persistently high, it’s increasingly important for drivers to find ways to save on fuel. Not everyone can switch to an efficient vehicle, but there are practical steps to enhance the efficiency of our existing cars and ease the financial impact at the pump. Let’s explore these strategies.
Fast, aggressive driving not only puts you and others at risk but also significantly increases fuel consumption. Rapid acceleration, hard braking, and excessive speed can lower your gas mileage by up to 30 percent at highway speeds and 40 percent in stop-and-go traffic. By adopting a smoother and more measured driving style, you can enhance both safety and fuel economy.
Observe the Posted Speeds
While each vehicle reaches its optimal economy at a different speed, gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 50 mph. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, each 5 mph you drive over 50 mph is like paying an additional $0.27 per gallon for gas. Observing the speed limit is not only a legal requirement but also a simple way to improve efficiency.
Avoid Carrying Rooftop Cargo
Rooftop cargo boxes can provide much-needed storage space, especially on long trips. However, they also increase wind resistance, which can lower your fuel economy by as much as 25 percent on the highway. If possible, try to fit everything inside your vehicle or use a rear-mounted cargo box or tray.
Remove Excess Weight
The heavier your vehicle, the more energy it needs to move. An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could reduce your miles per gallon by about 1 percent. Try to keep your vehicle’s load light by removing unnecessary items, particularly if they’re large or heavy.
Contrary to popular belief, restarting your car does not burn more fuel than leaving it idling. In fact, idling can use a quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour, depending on your vehicle’s engine size and the use of the air conditioner. If you’re waiting in your car, consider turning off the engine to save gas or diesel.
Make Use of Cruise Control
Utilizing cruise control on highways aids in keeping a steady speed, typically leading to fuel conservation. However, it’s advisable to avoid using cruise control under wet or icy road conditions as it could diminish your vehicle handling ability.
Keep the Vehicle in Tip-Top Mechanical Shape
Regular vehicle maintenance can improve efficiency and extend the life of your car. For instance, fixing a car that’s noticeably out of tune can improve its gas mileage by an average of 4 percent.
Keep Tires Properly Inflated
Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by about 0.2 percent for every 1 psi drop in the average pressure of all tires. In addition to reducing your fuel efficiency, under-inflated tires can also wear out more quickly and fail suddenly, which can be dangerous.
Use the Recommended Motor Oil
Using the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil can improve your gas mileage by 1 to 2 percent. Motor oil that says “Energy Conserving” on the API performance symbol contains friction-reducing additives that can improve fuel economy.
In summation, while fuel prices might be beyond our control, the way we use and maintain our vehicles is not. By adopting these practical strategies, we can improve our vehicles’ fuel efficiency, reduce our fuel costs, and contribute to a greener environment.
Driving More Efficiently. Department of Energy.
Save money and fuel by driving efficiently. FuelEconomy.gov