Fuel Saving Tips
Consumers and manufacturers are increasingly concerned with improving the fuel efficiency of vehicles, especially as gas prices rise to record levels.
While great progress is being made in automotive technology, drivers can significantly improve fuel economy by using the following techniques:
Keep your engine purring. A well-tuned engine can improve fuel economy by up to four percent. Change the oil and always follow the car manufacturer’s recommended service schedule.
Fouled spark plugs, a dirty air filter or clogged fuel filter can all affect your fuel economy. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), mileage increases up to 10 percent can result when you replace a clogged air filter. Replacing an oxygen sensor could improve your mileage even more.
Octane ratings and motor oil. Use the correct octane gas and the recommended grade of motor oil for your vehicle. Check your owner's manual for your vehicle's recommendations and have maintenance performed regularly by a dealer or reputable mechanic.
Keep tires properly inflated: According to the DOE, fuel economy can be improved over three percent by keeping tires inflated to the proper psi. Keep tires at the recommended tire pressure as stated in the owner’s manual or on the vehicle's doorjamb.
Take it Easy: Fuel economy is all about smoothness, judgment and keeping calm. Aggressive driving hogs gas, using up to a third more fuel compared with conservative driving. Use cruise control to maintain even speed, unless driving on hills, where cruise control taxes the engine more than natural driving.
Keep the pedal off the metal: A vehicle traveling at higher speeds encounters more wind resistance and consumes more fuel. Driving just five miles per hour over the speed limit can affect fuel economy by up to 23 percent.
Conserve momentum: Be ready for the next driving “event” and save fuel. For example, anticipate signal changes. By slowing down early as a red traffic light changes to green, you save momentum over stopping completely. Also, the vehicles’ momentum will carry the engine up a hill more easily when you speed up slightly on the approach.
Tailgating is for football games: Keeping reasonable distance between your car and the vehicle in front facilitates even braking, which saves fuel.
Avoid rush hour or traffic jam hot spots: Slow-moving or stop-and-go traffic consumes more fuel than smooth and even driving. Try to travel outside of peak times and avoid known areas of heavy traffic.
Use the highest gear possible: The higher the gear, the lower the engine speed. Lower engine speeds consume less fuel. Use the highest gear appropriate, without straining the engine with an ultra-low RPM. When driving an automatic transmission vehicle, you can save gas by easing back on the accelerator slightly when the engine is about to upshift. If your vehicle has s “sport” mode, that may be more fun to drive, but will also consume more fuel.
Use Cruise Control When Appropriate: The steady speeds accomplished by using cruise control can really save on fuel. However, if you are driving on a hilly road, do not use it. A driver naturally anticipates the power needed for hills in a more fuel-efficient manner than cruise control would.
Take the junk out of the trunk: Fuel efficiency is lowered by up to two percent for every extra 100 pounds carried in a vehicle, so keep the trunk and rear seat cleaned out.
Take the roof rack off: Roof racks and roof bars adversely affect the aerodynamic efficiency of the vehicle and reduce fuel economy by as much as five percent. Remove them when not in use.
Use recommended engine oil for your car: Using the manufacturer’s recommended lubricant can improve fuel efficiency by as much as one two percent. Higher quality engine oil can also help your engine operate more efficiently.
Avoid excess idling: Idling an engine burns fuel but gets you nowhere. A car can be sufficiently warmed up in one-two minutes.
Reduce air conditioning use: Additional fuel is consumed to operate the vehicle’s air conditioning, but driving with the windows down can be even worse by interfering with the vehicle aerodynamics. If you are driving slowly, the best idea is to roll the windows down. On the highway, leave them up and use the air conditioning.
Combine Trips and Carpool: A little planning can make a big difference in fuel economy. Carpool when possible. In addition, cold engines use more fuel than warm. Combining errands can improve gas mileage because your engine will be warm for more of the trip. You may also travel fewer total miles.