Whether we use our vehicles to commute back and forth to work every day, or just for day trips, or only for special vacations, there’s one thing that we all have to spend a lot of money on pretty frequently: fuel. The fuel economy you get with your vehicle will, of course, depend on the vehicle itself, but there are also many ways in which to improve your fuel efficiency to help you with that every day gas crunch. We’re all looking to save a few dollars here and there, and that’s what we’re here to help with – saving you money by providing tips and tricks to improve your fuel efficiency in your vehicle.
Track Mileage In Real Time
The more you know about how your vehicle uses fuel, the better off you’ll be when considering how to improve your gas mileage. Knowing and tracking your mileage you’re getting in real time and being able to compare it to every other day is a great way to do this, and is easy once you know your vehicle – and if you’re overly organized like me, you can even put this information into a spreadsheet to keep track of it and see your patterns from day to day!
For vehicles made post 1995, it’s relatively easy to track it – you’ll simply use a fuel-economy computer and you’ll instantly be instrumented for tracking your vehicle’s mileage. If your vehicle is older, you’ll probably have to install a vacuum gauge to measure how hard your engine generally works.
Spare The Brakes
Essentially, the more you brake, the more gas you’re using up. This is especially true for those of us who have to fight the daily traffic jam going to and from work each day. If you’re constantly caught in a situation where traffic isn’t necessarily stopping and going, but is consistently speeding up and slowing down, try giving yourself a bit of a buffer – 10 seconds or so should do – before hitting the gas to accelerate. Accelerate slowly and leave plenty of space ahead of you; this will give you more than enough time to see brake lights ahead engaging, so you can coast up to the vehicle in front of you, rather than having to slam on the breaks every time they slowed down.
Remain Alert Always
This is especially important for those of us who have a daily commute to work, but it’s important to all drivers on the road as well. The reason I say it’s especially important to commuters is simply this: The same drive every single day can be extremely tedious and boring, and if you’re bored, chances are you’re not as alert as you should be. Staying alert on the road at all times allows you to anticipate the moves of other drivers – both in front of you and behind you – to react within a decent amount of time. Pay attention to the lights, look several cars ahead to see if brake lights are coming on to anticipate a coast or stop, and even check the traffic before leaving to ensure you’re prepared for the commute ahead.
Imagine you’re riding a bike. A motorized, heavy bike. Even though you have that engine to get you up and around any obstacle your vehicle is faced with, gravity is still a thing, and your car is a heavy piece of machinery. This means that going up a hill takes more effort to maintain speed than it does going down, and since your vehicle is working harder, you’re using more fuel. Allowing yourself to lose those few MPH will allow your vehicle to relax a bit on the way up, and you can always make up for any lost time when it levels out, or on the way down the hill. Remember, your vehicle burns the most fuel when it’s forced into high-load situations, so lay off the gas when going up those hills.
Fill Your Tires
One of the biggest wasters of fuel are flat or low tires. Because you aren’t able to get the optimal traction on the road when your tires are under-inflated, your vehicle has to work harder to make up the difference in tire pressure, and will therefore burn more fuel trying to compensate. Even if your tires don’t look flat or under inflated, check them anyway! The sidewall of your tires will let you know what the optimal PSI is for your tires, and pumping them up to meet that standard will make your ride much smoother, and help you improve your fuel efficiency.
Like I said before, planning your route around traffic is a great way to be prepared for the commute or journey you’re about to take. Sure, things happen, but if you plan your trip ahead – plan to take the path of least resistance, for example – then you’re more likely to have a smooth, stress free trip. If you have multiple paths you can take to work and one is usually backed up, or you notice traffic is particularly bad there that day, take the other path, and plan to leave as much time for you to get there as possible to avoid pushing your car to the limit.