Burning money doesn't appeal to most of us, yet that is exactly what many of us feel we are doing when we stop at the gas station to top off the fuel in our cars. We search for the best price possible and take a deep breath as we jam the nozzle into the side of the car, understanding that we will have to do it again in a matter of days. While we have little control over the ever-changing price of gas, there are some things we can do to improve our fuel economy.
1. Handle the Pressure
If left unattended, tire pressure can decrease by 1% - 5% each month. An under-inflated tire creates greater rolling resistance, which means your engine must work harder to move your vehicle. Make sure you check your tire pressure at least monthly and add air as required. The recommended pressure for your tires can be found in your owner's manual or, in most cases, on the driver's side door jamb. Keep a tire pressure gauge in your glove box.
2. Take it Easy
Aggressive driving habits can take a toll on fuel economy. If you like to mash the gas pedal and stomp on the brakes, you may be having fun but you will pay for it at the gas pump. If you want to save fuel, concentrate on driving as smoothly as possible--this means you need to avoid jack-rabbit starts and regular hard braking. On the highway, your ideal speed for fuel economy is 55 to 65 mph. 75 mph may be more fun for you than 65 mph, but you could pay for it with a 14% decrease in gas mileage.
3. Minimize Idling
When your car is idling, you are burning fuel without going anywhere. For all intents and purposes, you are getting a whopping 0 miles per gallon. If your car is going to idle for more than 60 seconds or so, you are better off turning the car off and restarting when ready to move.
4. Keep it Maintained
Following the recommended maintenance schedule for your vehicle will keep your car in tip-top shape overall and will allow it to operate with much greater efficiency. There are a few maintenance items on your car that will cost you fuel if not properly maintained. Fouled spark plugs, dirty air filters and clogged fuel filters can all contribute to a noticeable decrease in fuel economy. Keep your vehicle maintained.
5. Lighten Up
A heavier car takes more fuel to move than a lighter car. If you are forcing your car to carry around excess weight, then your engine will need to work harder to get you and your vehicle from point 'A' to point 'B'. Remove any unnecessary items from your trunk, back-seat or truck bed. An extra 100 pounds of weight can cost you up to a 2% decrease in gas mileage.
There are plenty of additional ideas to maximize your fuel economy; however, they all boil down to minimizing the work your engine has to do to move you and your car around. Our tips may not make you rich, but they may help you hang on to some of your hard earned money.