Gas Savings

Lead foot? Heavy hauler? 10 tips to save gas by changing the way you drive

Summer is finally here!  As we head into this prime driving season—when gas prices typically soar above their already-high prices—we thought it was a good time to show you some ways you can boost your fuel economy.

Here are our top 10 gas-saving tips. The best part is: It’s all up to you, the driver!

You can improve your fuel economy by up to 37 percent, reports, by combining several driving tips as you sport around Libertyville and Mundelein and by performing routine maintenance. (This report is a few years old, but we still like the gas-saving potential it explores!) That adds up to dollars quickly, not just pennies. And if you’re among the SUV and minivan-owning crowd, you stand to save even more than the folks zipping around in their sub-compacts.

Ready to start saving? Here we go…

Tip #1: Don’t drive like James Bond in hot pursuit of an international criminal mastermind.

While it might be the more boring way to go, you’ll save fuel by:

  • Accelerating evenly, resisting the urge to weave through traffic, and actively avoiding sudden stops and starts. (Savings: 0.1 to 0.4 miles per gallon)
  • Engaging cruise control whenever possible to maintain a steady speed. (Savings: 0.1 to 0.4 miles per gallon)
  • Driving the posted speed limit (Savings: 0.7 to 2.9 miles per gallon). Driving faster increases the wind resistance, which requires the engine to work harder to overcome the drag. Admittedly, we can’t explain quite this advice applies to a posted speed limit of 35 mph and one of 70 mph. But we think the point is: The faster you drive, the more fuel that’s required to propel you forward.

Tip #2: Your car is not a traveling sporting goods shop or eBay auction center.

You can save 0.6 to 1.1 mpg by unloading excess weight from the vehicle. This includes everything from sports gear, tools and equipment to books you’ve been meaning to donate, work-related paraphernalia and even the third rear seat that’s never used.

Tip #3: Don’t be a drag.  

On a similar note, do whatever you can to reduce your car’s wind resistance, such as removing luggage racks, bike racks, ski racks, etc.

Tip #4: Don’t be confused as the getaway driver.

Turn off the engine if you’re going to be sitting for more than 1 minute. When you sit idling, you’re getting 0 mpg. While starting your car uses a burst of fuel, it uses less than excess idling. This includes going inside instead of into the drive-through lane and limiting warm-up time to 1-2 minutes in the winter.

Tip #5: Choose your own fuel adventure: The A/C vs. windows debate.

Many “how to save fuel” articles will advise you to roll down the windows and turn off the A/C. Because the engine powers the A/C, many experts believe the additional load demands extra fuel. But recent research shows that it all depends. At slower speeds, rolling your windows down is the more fuel-efficient way to go. At highway speeds, A/C is the way to go. Of course, on a 90-degree, high humidity day, we’re guessing comfort is going to trump fuel economy.

Tip#6: Leave it to the teens to wind out the gears.

If you drive an automatic and have “overdrive” as an option, make sure you use it. If you drive a manual transmission, shift into the higher gears and stay there as soon as its practical. In a lower gear, your engine is turning faster than the wheels. In fourth gear, the engine turns one revolution for every revolution of the wheels. In overdrive, fifth or sixth gears, the wheels are actually turning faster than the engine, which improves its efficiency and your fuel economy.

Tip #7: Don’t drive like it’s winter all year round.

Using four-wheel drive consumes more fuel. If you have the option to put your vehicle into two-wheel drive, do it. Use four-wheel drive only when necessary.

Tip #8: Stand out from the crowd.

Whenever possible, make your trips at non-peak travel times and reduce or combine the number of trips you make altogether.

Tip #9: Seek out the shade.

In the summer, parking in a shady spot will keep your car cooler, then it will be easier to cool down when you are ready to head home, and it minimizes fuel evaporation.

Tip #10: Don’t succumb to the regular vs. premium fuel myths.

Most vehicles on the road are engineered to run on 87 octane fuel. If your car is one of them, don’t spend extra money on premium. It’s simply throwing your money away. However, if your vehicle is engineered for premium fuel, you need to take a deep breath and accept the 20- to 30-cent price difference per gallon. Trying to sneak in a little 87 octane can cause engine knocking and pinging, among other problems, and can lead to long-term engine damage. It’s not worth the risk. If you’re note sure what grade of fuel your vehicle requires, consult your owner’s manual or feel free to email the friendly experts at Auto Lab.

Posted in Auto Repair.