Gas prices keep rising, and while it is certainly not the first time in American history that this has happened, somehow it seems worse. Gasoline takes up a larger portion of our monthly budget than ever before. Well, this problem is not that hard to solve, now is it? Just quit driving! Personally, I don’t know anyone who can do that in Texas where “just a piece down the road” could mean anywhere from 1 to 100 miles. You don’t need to trade in your pickup truck or your Suburban for an egg car to start saving fuel. It is easy and inexpensive to cut your fuel budget, sometimes for as much as 25%. Start by keeping your tires inflated properly and your wheels aligned. You will save gallons when you stop idling so much, don’t speed, and keep your car running as close to original as possible.
1. Keep your tires inflated properly and your wheels aligned.
Checking your tires regularly and keeping them close to their recommended pressure can increase fuel economy. Start out by checking them every month and if your tires are holding air well you can extend that time. It is hard to tell when a tire is under-inflated, by the time it looks low, it is really low. The average tire is 7 pounds under-inflated. The closer you keep your tire pressure regulated the better your fuel economy will be.
Always check your tires when they are cold. Air expands with heat and you won’t get an accurate reading if you have already been driving for miles. Use a quality tire gauge and double check the yellow sticker inside your driver’s side door jamb for the perfect pressure, the front and the rear tires’ pressures could be different.
Have your alignment checked to help ensure that your tires are all rolling down the road in a straight manner. When wheels are out of alignment it can cause significant drag.
2. Stop idling so much
When your car is at an idle you are burning gas and not going anywhere. On cold mornings, modern vehicles and fluids are made to be ready to roll, almost immediately. The only reason to warm up your vehicle is to make the cabin warmer and that will happen faster driving down the road than it will sitting still in your driveway.
You can also reduce idling during your daily drive. If you will be idling for more than 10 seconds you will burn more fuel letting your vehicle run than you would by turning it off and restarting it. Americans waste millions of gallons of fuel every year by voluntarily idling their cars in fast-food-drive-through lanes, pulled over while talking, and waiting to pick up their children.
The extra wear and tear on your starting components is not significant. Just a drop in the gas can compared with the money you will save on fuel. Reducing your idling time by 5 minutes a day will save the average driver about a cup of fuel.
3. Stop speeding
Whoa there! Why are you driving so fast? Not only is it dangerous, but it is costing you a ton of money in fuel. All that speeding, quick lane changes, fast starts, and slamming stops are burning through your fuel. Drive like you have a cup of coffee in your car and are trying not to spill it.
When you are on the freeway, cruising at a slightly slower speed will save you money too. Each vehicle has a different perfect speed, but as a rule your vehicle will be more efficient when kept below 55. That is just plain hard to do on our highways, so keep in mind that you will use more fuel with each 5 mph step you take over 55. Slowing down is safe and cheaper too.
4. Keep your oil and air filter clean and your engine running smooth.
Your engine needs a precise mixture of fuel and air to run efficiently – about 14 parts of air for every one part of fuel. And when the filter is too dirty it has an effect on your fuel economy. One in every four vehicles has a dirty air filter.
Air filters are easy to check and inexpensive to replace – This simple item could increase your mileage by as much as 10 percent. That puts replacing your air filter at the top of the list of easy, inexpensive and effective ways to squeeze more miles out of each gallon of ever so expensive fuel.
Automotive manufacturers and their engineers spend millions of dollars developing vehicles that run efficiently. Competition in the market and federally mandated CAFÉ Standards mean that automakers are working hard to bring you the most miles for each gallon of fuel their vehicles burn. If there was a gadget that would magically give you better fuel economy, they would have already put it on your car. So, don’t waste your money on magnets, turbines or other gadgets. Do keep your vehicle running as close to new as possible with basic maintenance.
This is That Car Lady, Lynn Beckwith wishing you miles of happy driving.