With gas prices increasing, many people are looking for alternate forms of transportation. But if you have to use your car for transportation, there are lots of ways to improve your gas mileage and help lower travel costs.
While you drive:
- Avoid idling. It gets you zero miles per gallon.
- Avoid aggressive driving, such as speeding, rapid acceleration, and hard braking. These can lower your highway gas mileage by up to 33% and your city mileage by 5%.
- Avoid high speeds. Above 60 mph, gas mileage drops rapidly. For every 5 mph above 60 mph, it’s like paying an additional $0.30 per gallon.
- Air conditioning dramatically reduces fuel economy. Most air conditioners have an “economy” setting that allows the circulation of unchilled air. Many also have a “maximum” or “recirculation” setting that reduces the amount of hot outside air that must be chilled. Both settings can reduce the air conditioning load — and save gas.
Before you drive:
- Avoid keeping heavy items in your car. An extra 100 pounds could increase your gas costs by up to $.08 cents per gallon.
- Reduce drag by placing items inside the car or trunk rather than on roof racks, which can decrease your fuel economy by 5% or more.
- Plan your route ahead of time so you combine errands and drive as little as possible. Several short trips each taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as one trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm.
- Use gas price finders to find the cheapest gas near you.
- Skip the after-market products that promise improved gas mileages. They don’t work, and sometimes they can damage your car.
- Use the grade of motor oil your car’s manufacturer recommends. Using a different motor oil can lower your gas mileage by 1%-2%.
- Inflate your tires to the pressure listed in your owner’s manual or on a sticker in the glove box or driver’s side door jamb. This number may differ from the maximum pressure listed on your tire’s sidewall.
- Get regular maintenance checks to avoid fuel economy problems due to worn spark plugs, dragging brakes, sagging belts, low transmission fluid, or transmission problems.
- Check into telecommuting, carpooling, and public transit to save driving and car maintenance costs. Many urban areas provide carpool lanes that are usually less congested.
All cost estimates assume an average price of $3.96 per gallon. Source: energysavers.gov
Chart from the U.S. Energy Information Administration
To learn more about each element you pay for in a gallon of gas or to download the raw data from this chart, check out Today in Energy.
Photo “Stopping for gas” taken by Average Jane on Flickr
You’ve probably noticed the steep increase in gas prices over the past week. Nationwide, drivers have seen average gas prices of $3.38 per gallon, similar to what we normally see in the peak of the summer driving season. The price increases are a result of the unrest in Libya and the Middle East.
This sudden jump in prices is causing people across the country to examine their driving behavior. This may be a great reason to look into buying a more fuel efficient or hybrid vehicle. Even if you aren’t in the market for a new car right now, here are some tips to increase your car’s fuel efficiency and get the most for your gasoline dollar:
- Drive sensibly - Aggressive driving, such as speeding, rapid acceleration and braking, wastes gas.
- Combine trips when possible - Several short trips starting from a cold engine can use twice as much fuel as longer multi-purpose trips when the engine is warm.
- Observe the speed limit - Gas mileage usually decreases at speeds above 60 mph
- Remove excess weight - Avoid keeping unnecessary items in your vehicle. The reduction of an extra 100 lbs could increase your mileage by 2%
- Carpool or take public transportation - You can save by taking turns driving with other commuters
For more information about saving money at the pump, visit fueleconomy.gov.