With skyrocketing gas prices approaching $5 per gallon in the US and closing in on $1.30 per litre in Canada now is the time to do all you can to conserve fuel. While buying a brand new hybrid vehicle may not be in your budget, the following gas savings tips can help you today get more mileage from your current used car without a lot of effort.
IMPLEMENT SOME OF THE FOLLOWING GAS SAVINGS TIPS TO SAVE 15 TO 20 PERCENT IN FUEL COSTS:
Empty Your Trunk: The more you carry in your car, the heavier it is. And the heavier it is, the more energy it takes to carry, meaning that your engine has to work harder and burn more costly fuel. If you routinely shuttle four people around, you will pay for more fuel than if you drive solo. And if you are carrying lots of extra baggage in your trunk, that eats up the fuel, too. And you pay. And so does the environment.
So keep your car free of extra toolboxes you don't need and other items that could easily be removed.
~ If you want to haul a lot of really heavy items, a trailer is probably better than a roof rack and filling the trunk. Not only is a trailer likely to create less "wind drag", but your engine works harder carrying than pulling ... and burns more fuel carrying than pulling, of course.
Carpool: In tip 9, I said, "If you routinely shuttle four people around, you will pay for more fuel than if you drive solo." Does that mean carpooling is costly? No. Quite the opposite. True, four people in a car cost more to transport than one person in a car. But four people in a car cost way less to transport than four people in four cars. Carpooling will not only save on fuel, but also on tires, engine wear, and probably insurance. If you can organize a few people to participate in a commuter car pool or a school or after-school activity car pool, you can save big dollars, possibly even as high as $5000/year.
~ In addition to car pooling, how about foot pooling. Yes, instead of sitting along in your vehicle, consuming gasoline in the drive-through line-up, why not park the car and line up inside the coffee shop without the motor running? Makes more sense, doesn't it?
Slow Down: You have heard that "speed kills", but it also takes a bite out of your wallet. Why? The faster you drive, the faster your car presses against the air, creating - you guessed it - wind resistance. Does that mean you should drive at 10 miles per hour? No, aside from being just as dangerous to drive way below the speed of traffic as to drive way above, you really won't save any money. Typically, a modern car drives most efficiently at 50 - 60 miles per hour (90-100 kilometers per hour). So keeping to the speed limit on major highways is good for safety, for your driving record and insurance, and also for your wallet and the air we breathe.
~ Is slowing down enough to reduce fuel costs on the highway? Actually, speed alone is not the only factor in the amount of unnecessary fuel you burn. Speed variance is, too.
Mix and Match Errands: Go to the store. Return home. Pick up a video. Return home. Take your daughter to piano lessons. Return home. Does this sound like your worst nightmare of non-stop errands eating away every last moment of free time? Well, it's also eating up plenty of cash, too. Why not combine all the errands? Why not go to the store and pick up that video on your way back from taking your daughter to piano lessons? You'll probably put several miles fewer on your vehicle each time you combine errands, saving you time, fuel and costly wear and tear on your vehicle.
Tune it up: What happens when you take on a task inefficiently? You probably waste a lot of time and possibly materials. When a vehicle runs inefficiently, it wastes fuel and spews out a whole lot more pollution. It's time for a regular tune-up. Unbelievable as it may sound, some people do not get their oil changed more than once a year. Some people do not get their air filters changed ... ever! These two simple tune-up tips alone can make a big difference in your fuel costs as well as in the life of your engine. Of course, a complete tune-up is good for your car and will help you get a longer life from such an expensive machine - and reduce the number of unexpected breakdowns you suffer down the road.
~ How much gasoline is escaping from your tank in the form of vapor? Go to a garage and find out. An old, leaky gas cap really does not cost much to replace, but can cost you a lot to keep.
Advance Deceleration: I know, it sounds like something pretty technical, but it really just means being prepared. See that stop sign ahead? Yes? Then why is your foot still on the accelerator? Due to wind and road surface resistance, your vehicle will naturally slow down quite in time for the stop sign or traffic light…if you just let it. However, if you keep your foot on the accelerator, you are consuming fuel now that will be needed only to carry your vehicle BEYOND the intersection. Since you will have to stop, all that fuel will be wasted. Why not just pay for the gasoline, then poor it down the drain? It would be just as useful. Anticipate stops ahead, like when the traffic light is about to turn yellow, and let your vehicle slow to a gentle stop with minimal need for using the brakes. By the way, this will add life to your braking system, reducing some pretty expensive repair bills, too.
Use Foot Power:Suppose you left the car at home and used your feet instead. You could walk or cycle. How much do you think you would save?
Well, do the math: No fuel consumed Less wear and tear on vehicle parts Less depreciation on the vehicle
On the other hand, you might wear out an extra pair of shoes. As a bonus, walking and cycling (and skateboarding, and skating, and unicycling, and ...) are also great exercise and stress-relievers. In fact, there are only three situations where walking and cycling is not an option: 1. When Old Man Winter blows through the streets of Chicago or Montreal. Or Edmonton. Or Boston. Or Sudbury. Or, well, you get the point. 2. When you live in the country and the closest general store is six miles away in Punkeydoodles Corners. 3. When you have to carry home a heavy load (and even then you can use a shopping cart for most loads).
Tire Inflation: My second-to-top tip is to keep your tires inflated to the manufacturer's suggested tire pressure. Which manufacturer, the tire or the car? As long as you do not exceed the maximum pressure listed on the tire, inflate the tire to the pressure suggested by your vehicle manufacturer (usually found on the inside of the door panel). You can reduce your fuel bill by up to 4% just by keeping your tires properly inflated. And you can cut the cost of replacement tires, by extending their life by as much as six months .... just by keeping them properly inflated. Most importantly, it's not just the money you can save. You can save your life. After all, what's holding you to the road? What keeps you from sliding or skidding out of control? What defies the laws of ice and snow and water and sand? That's right. A properly inflated tire.
Take the other car: This is my top tip. But what does it mean? In this day of two (or more) vehicles per household, we get into habits. One person always takes the Chevy. The other always takes the Ford. So what happens when there's a minivan or SUV and a compact car sitting in the driveway? If you are used to taking the minivan, chances are you will take it - even when the compact car will do just fine. But check the fuel economy ratings for the vehicles. Chances are that one vehicle (not the minivan or SUV) has better fuel economy than the other. This is because the bigger vehicle a) weighs more and, well, you can reread Tip #9 if that is not self explanatory, has more wind resistance, and c) it probably has a larger engine capable of carrying more people and more cargo and its heavier frame, and that larger engine consumes more fuel. If you don't absolutely need the space in the minivan at this very moment, because the whole soccer team is not heading to the grocery store with you for a change, take the other vehicle and save the massive amount of fuel you would otherwise waste. This one tip alone can save families hundreds of dollars every year in fuel costs alone. Indeed, the wear and tear on an SUV or a minivan usually costs much more, so there you have double savings.
~ OK, just for fun, here is one more bonus tip. Air conditioning is a luxury, in that it is not actually necessary, and almost nobody had it just a few years ago. And it is still considered an extra when it comes time to fork out your retirement funds to pay for the new vehicle. But it is hard to call air conditioning a luxury, when almost every new car has it. It is also hard to call it a luxury when it can save so much fuel. While you probably still save a little money by just rolling down the windows on city streets, at highway speeds you can save big dollars by using air conditioning instead of rolling down the windows. Why? Because the open window creates - all together now - wind resistance. I bet you never thought a page on gas saving tips would talk so much about wind.
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