Running a car today is a huge cost, and a big part of that cost is your gasoline bill. In America, gas prices are well below their all-time highs. But with Middle East tensions threatening to push up crude costs, you should always on be the lookout for ways to lower your gasoline costs.
Here are efficient fuel saving tips that can help you maximize what you spend at the pump.
1. Inflate your tires to the correct pressure.
Most drivers underestimate the impact of tire pressure on fuel efficiency. According to Goodyear, tires are responsible for around 20% of vehicle fuel consumption. When tire pressure is low, the car will need more fuel to move it across the road.
As winter sets in, your tyres are likely to lose air thanks to the overall change in temperature. When they are under inflated, your tires wear faster and create additional friction. This means the engine has to work harder and requires more gasoline to keep the car moving.
Furthermore, not inflating your tires can be a breach of your insurance policy’s terms and conditions. If you’re involved in an accident and it’s found that your under-inflated tires were a factor in the accident, your insurer will probably refuse to pay up. This is why you should always read the small print of your policy.
To inflate your tires to the correct pressure, check with your owner’s manual, and then inflate (or deflate) your tires according to what is recommended in the manual.
Inflating your tyres to their correct pressure can save you 8 – 10% on the cost of gasoline and save you money by increasing the lifespan of your tire by 30%.
2. Clean your fuel system.
The combination of carbon build up, plugged fuel injectors and ill functioning exhaust systems can quickly empty your gas tank. The performance of your engine can be degraded by dirty air filters, worn spark plug wires and dirty motor oil.
According to the EPA, you can boost gas mileage by up to 4% by having your car properly tuned, inflating your tires properly can increase efficiency by as much as 3% and you can save up to 2% by using the correct oil.
3. Avoid idling as much as possible.
Most drivers are in the habit of starting their car in the mornings and just leaving it to run “to let it warm up” – a process known as idling. The popular belief is that it boosts the engine’s efficiency and functionality. In fact, idling wears out the engine and worsens fuel consumption by as much as five percent.
If you feel you’re going to be stuck in traffic for more than a minute or so then cutting the engine will save petrol and reduce emissions. According to RasTrac, if your car spends one hour every day idling, that is likely to cost between $521.95 and $1,679 per year.
4. Don’t carrying unnecessary weight.
Vehicle weight and engine power are two major factors that influence a car’s fuel consumption. In fact, 100 pounds of excess weight increases fuel consumption by 1 to 2%. This means that the more fuel you put in your car, the more energy it will use. The less fuel you put in your car, the more fuel efficient the car will be because of the reduction in weight
5. Keep your windows closed.
Wind resistance increases fuel consumption, so it is recommended to keep the windows closed at when you are on the motorway or freeway. Opening the windows or sunroof open at higher speeds can increase fuel consumption by up to 20%, because open windows can disrupt the aerodynamics of your car.
6. Slow down.
It may come as a surprise to learn that speed and fuel efficiency do not go together. Increasing your speed from 55mph to 75mph can raise fuel consumption as much as 20%. You can improve your fuel usage 10 – 15% by driving at 55mph rather than 65mph (104km/h).
In fact, a study that compared the fuel economy of 74 cars at speeds of 50, 60, 70 and 80 mph, it was found that each extra 10 mph beyond 50 mph reduces fuel economy by approximately 14%. It was discovered that from 50 to 60 mph fuel economy drops by 12%, from 50 to 70 mph it drops by 25%, and from 50 to 80 mph it falls by 36%.
7. Avoid over-revving
Revving your car engine in low gear consumes large amounts of fuel. At speeds above 75mph-80mph, the engine will rev higher and the engine will start guzzling fuel as it is having to work much harder. According to the experts, it is more fuel efficient to change gears at 2,500 revs on petrol and 2,000 on a diesel, and move into fifth (and sixth on new models) at the appropriate point.
8. Avoid short journeys where possible.
In general, a cold engine will use twice as much fuel as a warm engine. Driving a car that’s been parked for a few hours means that the engine is cold and will use much more fuel for the first five miles or so. In addition, oil doesn’t lubricate properly until it is warm. This means that on a short journey, a greater percentage of the journey is spent without proper lubrication. This increases stress on the engine as it has to work harder, which is why more fuel is used in the process.
To get round this avoid short journeys where ever possible. Instead of using your car, you can always walk, bike, car share or use public transport. You can also combine all of your daily errands into one big trip.
9. Drive slow around speed bumps.
If you’re driving towards an area with a lot of speed bumps, drive smoothly and at a constant speed of between 15-20 mph. Sudden changes in speed are recognized as one of the biggest reasons for fuel inefficiency. Braking hard, accelerating, and then braking for the next speed bump stresses the engine and you’ll be using extra fuel in the process.
10. Ditch the air conditioning.
Okay, this can be easier said than done, especially when it gets really hot and humid. However, air-conditioning is known to waste fuel, especially at low speeds. This can increase fuel costs by up to 10 percent.
If the heat is unbearable and you need air conditioning, save it for high speed driving. Open the windows when driving around town when you have to start and stop more often. When you’re driving on the freeway, the fuel wastage will be less pronounced.
11. Be a smoother driver.
The way you drive has an impact on the fuel efficiency of your car. According to experts, travelling at 50 mph and in the highest gear (five or six) is the perfect way to drive. Driving in this manner can bring you savings of as much as 30%.
Here are a few recommended tips from Driving Help on how to become a smoother driver:
- Avoid aggressive driving.
- Be smooth and pragmatic on the accelerator.
- Use cruise control when you can, as this maintains a steady setting on the accelerator.
- When getting close to a junction, roundabout, corner etc., lift your foot off the accelerator and cruise to a stop in gear. This will help you avoid using fuel. Putting the car into neutral and cruising to a stop will continue to consume fuel.
- Let the car slow down without having to press the brakes.
- Go gently on the accelerator, and anticipate traffic movements. Instead of decelerating, brake where possible.
- When you can, stop pressing down on the accelerator and let the momentum of the car take you forward.
- Travelling down a hill with your foot off the accelerator can save a considerable amount of fuel.
12. Avoid rush hour traffic.
Avoid rush hour traffic as much as possible. When you happen to be in rush hour traffic, you’ll have to continuously stop and start your car, which will eat your fuel fast. This is because every time you have to stop and start, your car needs first gear and a massive amount of fuel to get moving again.
In addition, you’ll be using your brakes a lot of the time. And second gear is not much better. For this reason, you’ll want to avoid rush hour altogether if you can.
Fuel efficiency is one of the most important factors to consider when buying a car, especially if you live in a country with high fuel cost. As a rule, small cars are generally more economical in town and bigger diesel family cars are more economical on the freeway.