We will probably never see gasoline prices under $2.00 per gallon again, and it is extremely rare to find them under $3.00 per gallon. With a vehicle being a necessity for many people, whether they use their car to commute to work or school, or to drive their children back and forth to school and extracurricular activities, gas prices are naturally a primary concern for many people.
Vehicle manufacturers are coming out with more efficient cars every year, whether those cars are hybrid gasoline and electric vehicles, they run on bio-fuels or alternative fuels, or the fuel efficiency of standard gasoline-powered cars is being improved. It would be nice to own a new car straight off the showroom floor, but that is a luxury that quite a few people in America simply cannot afford. Other basic needs take precedence, such as food, clothing, and shelter, so the “family car” is often one that is at least a decade old, if not older, and has seen quite a bit of use.
The fuel efficiency, or miles per gallon, of a vehicle varies based on many different factors. Quite a few of these factors have to do with the car itself. The engine size, vehicle weight, and tire size can have an impact on the car’s fuel efficiency. For example, a older full-size domestic pick-up truck with oversized knobby tires will get less than ten miles per gallon, while a small foreign import with factory-issued tires will usually average between 22 and 30 miles per gallon, if not more.
You can save money on your gasoline expenses without having to buy a new, fuel efficient vehicle, by making small changes in the way drive and keeping your vehicle in the best possible condition. Here are several tips to help you increase the fuel efficiency of your vehicle and get more miles per gallon while on the road:
1. Plan your trips so you can accomplish several errands on one outing, rather than making several trips and taking unnecessary routes.
2. Always keep your tires inflated to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Overinflated or underinflated tires can dramatically affect your fuel efficiency (and cause more wear and tear on the tires).
3. For 2WD/4WD vehicles, leave your car in two-wheel drive unless it’s necessary to engage the four-wheel drive.
4. Don’t leave your car idling for long periods of time, even if the weather is cold. In colder temperatures, warm up your engine by driving at a slower speed until the engine achieves normal operating temperature.
5. Leave your windows rolled up as much as possible, because open windows increase wind drag and overwork the engine.
6. Avoid installing aesthetic parts to your vehicle that serve no purpose other than to “look nice.” These would include ground-effect packages, rear deck spoilers, and other components that increase wind drag.
7. Don’t use your vehicle as a storage unit. The more weight your car carries around, the more the engine has to work, which means it consumes more gasoline. Only keep in your car the things you have to have.
8. Have a automotive shop or mechanic perform a tune-up on your car at least once a year to make sure the engine is in good condition.
9. Try to park your car in the shade or other cooler areas during hot, summer days. Heat can cause gasoline to evaporate.
10. Never tailgate other vehicles. While it is certainly dangerous, it also requires that you brake more frequently than you would need to if you were following at a safer distance.
11. Use the proper oil weight in your engine. Thicker oils with a higher viscosity level make your engine work harder to pump the oil through the engine.
12. Don’t stomp on the gas pedal to accelerate from a stopped position. Use a moderate increase in pressure on the pedal to accelerate smoothly, without increasing the RPMs (revolutions per minute) of your engine to a high level.
13. Using a higher octane gasoline, which is more expensive, is not necessary unless recommended by the manufacturer, and there are no real benefits to running your car with higher octane gasoline than you need to.
14. Check the air filter in your engine regularly to keep it free of dust, dirt, and debris. A clogged air filter is terrible for fuel efficiency and can cause your engine to stall when your car is idling.
15. If you have a vehicle with a manual transmission, shift gears between 1,500 and 2,000 RPM. Revving the engine or shifting above 2,000 RPM is an unnecessary waste of gasoline.
16. When replacing your tires, do not get low profile, oversized, or very wide tires. All of these have a negative impact on fuel efficiency.
17. Do not drive with your left foot resting on the brake pedal. If you were taught the correct way to drive, your left foot is for a clutch pedal only, and resting your foot on the brake can engage the brakes, increasing drag and making the engine work harder to move the vehicle.
18. If you travel with a load secured to the roof of your vehicle, make sure it is situated in the most aerodynamic way to reduce wind drag, which causes your engine to work harder (and decreases your fuel efficiency).
19. If your car has overdrive, use it whenever you are driving, except when you are towing heavy trailers or driving through mountainous terrain. Overdrive is the most fuel efficient when you are traveling at higher speeds.
20. Travel on roads that have fewer stop signs, red lights, hard turns, or other navigational obstacles that cause you to slow down and speed up frequently.
21. Pay attention to the road ahead of you and coast rather than braking when you have to slow down or stop. Use your brake pedal as little as possible, because accelerating after braking uses more fuel than driving at a constant speed.
22. Have the fuel filter and spark plugs replaced in your engine as often as is recommended by the manufacturer’s schedule. Wear and tear on these items can decrease the fuel efficiency of your engine.
23. If a regular tune-up does not include checking the alignment of your tires, have this done at least once a year, also. Misaligned tires are very dangerous and decrease fuel efficiency by increasing drag on the engine.
24. Rather than using the drive-thru window at fast food restaurants, pharmacies, and financial institutions, turn off your vehicle and go inside to conduct business.
25. Keep your fuel tank above one quarter of the way full. Low fuel levels can cause strain on the fuel pump, which decreases its efficiency (and you can also cause debris in the tank to get sucked into the fuel lines, which can be costly to repair).
26. Do the speed limit. Not only will this prevent you from getting speeding tickets or getting into an accident, but overworking your car’s engine decreases fuel efficiency by up to 30% or more.
27. For stop-and-go city driving, use the air conditioner as little as possible.
28.Unless you are traveling on very hilly terrain, use the cruise control to maintain a constant speed, which reduces fuel consumption.
29. Don’t patrol parking lots needlessly while waiting for a front row parking space to open up. The time you spend idling and barely moving through the parking lot consumes gasoline unnecessarily.
30. If you can walk or bike to your destinations, do so. Not only does it save gas because you’re not driving, but it’s also much healthier for you.
Increasing the fuel efficiency of your vehicle by at least ten miles per gallon can save you over $1,000 in gasoline costs annually. Not only does increasing fuel efficiency with smarter driving save on gas expenses, but it also reduces wear and tear on your vehicle, thus requiring that you spend less money buying parts and getting repairs. Getting the most out of your car and your mileage per gallon doesn’t require major effort, it just requires that you become a more conscientious driver.