Summer is here which means more traveling for you and your whole family. Fuel efficiency is on our minds more when we are driving more. Most of us can't just dash out and buy a new, more economical car. Also, for many of us, a smaller economy car just does not meet the needs of our family or business.
In reality, replacing a good reliable car just to gain a few miles per gallon may not be the most economical or environmentally friendly move anyway.
Today I thought I would offer some tips that can help you get the most out of every gallon of gas for the vehicle you drive now.
Let's start with the basics like tire pressure, since low tires can rob you of several miles per gallon. For every 1-pound drop in pressure on all four tires, you increase your rolling resistance by 1.4 percent. Based on that, you can see how being down several pounds on air pressure can increase rolling resistance by quite a bit. Look on the door sticker of your vehicle for the proper inflation pressure and keep tires inflated to the maximum pressure recommended by the manufacturer.
For safety and efficiency, make sure your tires are in good shape because tires that are worn out or worn unevenly will also affect the performance of your car. Closely related to tire wear is wheel alignment … a car that is out of alignment will also have increased rolling resistance. Not only will this condition kill your fuel economy, it will wear out a good set of tires prematurely.
The next easy item on the list would be the extra weight you are carrying in the trunk. I am amazed sometimes by all the stuff people cram into their trunk. If you are not using the golf clubs until next week, you can increase your efficiency by leaving them home in the garage. As the weather warms up you can save on fuel by not using the air conditioning and rolling the windows down, with the following caveat. If you are on the highway and at higher speeds, it may be a wash between running the air conditioning and the loss in aero dynamics from having the windows down. I would opt for comfort.
The following items are more about keeping up with the maintenance, which if you have been reading me for a while you know I am a proponent. All of the following will positively affect fuel efficiency if properly maintained.
• Air filter: A dirty air filter will restrict air flow to the engine.
• Spark plugs and other ignition components.
• Oxygen sensors.
• Any time a check engine light is on.
• Dirty fluids or wrong fluids in differentials, transfer cases and transmissions.
• The wrong viscosity motor oil.
• Bug deflectors and roof racks can impact the aero dynamics of your vehicle.
The last thing you can do to conserve fuel is to adjust your driving habits. Accelerate slowly and control your speed. When approaching a red light, come off the accelerator earlier and coast longer rather than charging up to the light and braking hard. The difference in fuel you will use at 55 mph compared to 70 mph is enormous and you have the added bonus of not having to worry about a ticket. According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, at 70 mph you lose 17 percent of your fuel economy and at 75 mph it's 25 percent. The numbers get worse from there.