Tips on Greater Fuel Economy Tips on Greater Fuel Economy

With gasoline hitting $4 a gallon and rising, it is imperative that you do all you can to insure you get the best fuel economy possible. American drivers are stuck in traffic for eight billion hours a year. If this many cars are tied up in gridlock, the amount of fuel consumed in the wait has to be enormous. Research for this article found that in the early 1900's, a horse and buggy traversed Los Angeles at 11 miles per hour. Today, with cars faster and able to travel long distances quickly, that same speed has dropped to 4 miles per hour. Although many people know how to drive correctly, there are a lot of things that they often overlook. Here, we will discuss methods and tricks to increase fuel economy, and what you can do to relieve the pain at the pump.

It's All About Driving Habits

Sometimes you can't help it, but avoid gridlock at all costs. Experts say to time your commute to less busy times of the day. This can mean leaving for work just 15 minutes earlier than usual. People tend to wait until the last minute, and then hurry to get to work. Avoid this through planning. Make arrangements with your boss to work an extra 10 minutes during your lunch so you can leave 10 minutes early. Even this small amount of time makes all the difference.

When driving, use cruise control to your advantage. Cruise control keeps the engine running at a very steady speed, increasing gas mileage. Avoid using cruise control, however, if driving in very hilly terrain. If your vehicle has a smaller engine like my Dodge Dakota does, it will kick into passing gear to climb steeper hills. Experts say that you decrease gas economy by as much as 25% if you speed up when climbing a hill as most people do. Increasing your speed from 65 to 75 miles an hour can decrease fuel consumption by as much as 20% due to increased air drag.

Simple Solutions

One of the neatest things I read while researching this article was something as simple as asking for directions if unsure as to where you are going. My daughter and family, who spend upwards of $1,000 a month on fuel, swear by a good UPS unit to get them correctly to their destination.

If you have fancy luggage racks or car top carriers attached to your car, and seldom use them, take them off. A full car top carrier can reduce mileage by as much as 5%. The air drag created by these items also reduces fuel economy.

Park in the shade whenever you can on hot summer days. The sun blazing down on your car will evaporate fuel in the tank, and turn the interior into a hot house. You lose gas in two ways - both through evaporation and turning on the air conditioning when you start the car.

Clean out the trunk. It is amazing how much stuff people carry there. An extra hundred pounds in the trunk reduces gas mileage by 1 to 2%. This is especially true in small vehicles that depend on less weight to give increased mileage.

About The Car

People labor under the misconception that premium fuel gives them better fuel efficiency. Not so. If you car runs well on the cheaper grades and does not knock or ping, then save yourself hundreds of dollars a year if you do a lot of driving. If you engine is such a high performance one that it requires higher premium gas to run, consider a trade.

Keep the engine tuned for maximum efficiency. Car manufacturer's have a regular scheduled maintenance for this, so follow it diligently. A spark plug that misfires can reduce gas mileage by as much as 30%.

One of the easiest things you can do is insure that tire pressure is correct on your vehicle, and that the recommended size tire is on your car. Studies show that 505 of the vehicles on the road have under inflated tires. The more rubber on the road, the less the gas mileage. Under inflation also greatly increases tire wear and builds up heat much quicker in the tire, leading to failure. Check the pressure on a bi-weekly basis, and be sure to never inflate a tire that is hot from driving. Your best bet is a small compressor at home to fill your tires before you leave the garage.

Change air and fuel filters at recommended times. Do so more often if you live in a very dusty part of the country.

These simple suggestions are easy to follow, and can save you hundreds of dollars over the course of a year. Following this advice also insures your car will run much longer. Your pocketbook will thank you.

Alden Smith is an award winning author and regular contributor to He writes on a variety of subjects, and excels in research.

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