No matter what you drive, vehicles are expensive to maintain. One of the most significant costs you’ll face (other than your car payment itself) is the cost of gas. With fuel prices rising to record levels across the nation, it’s now more important than ever before to know how to conserve gas and cut down on pollution. Whether you drive a sedan, a minivan, pickup truck, SUV or a hatchback, the following tips will help you cut down on the amount of gas your vehicle uses.
Surprisingly, one of the biggest wastes of fuel is on acceleration. If you’re punching the gas pedal like you’re running the Indy 500, let off. Accelerate slowly from a stop and you’ll notice that your car gets better fuel economy.
If you’re one of those drivers who apply the brake when you get to the stop sign or red light, consider letting off the gas and applying the brakes a bit earlier. By letting off the gas and coasting for a bit, you save a significant amount of fuel over the course of time. In essence, anytime you can take your foot off the pedal, your wallet will thank you.
Choose Your Route Carefully
In most instances, there is more than one way to get where you’re going. If you’re really interested in saving fuel and cutting down on costs, try to stick to highway driving as opposed to stop-and-go traffic. Heavy congestion kills fuel economy. Remember – your engine burns gas as long as it’s running, whether your car is moving or not. Highway driving, while not necessarily hurdle-free, is a far cry better than being stuck in an unmoving line of traffic in a heavily congested area.
You might not think it, but your tire pressure is one of the largest factors affecting your fuel economy. If your tire pressure is too low, then your engine and transmission have to work harder to turn the wheels. The harder they work, the more fuel they consume. Ideally, you’ll keep your tire pressure set to your OEM specifications – check the driver’s side door placard to find out what you should have in each tire. Check your tire pressure regularly to make sure it stays consistent.
In order to use gas, your engine has to combust it – that requires oxygen. The air intake on your engine is protected by an air filter. It keeps out dirt, debris, pollen and other unwanted elements, much like the filter on your home HVAC system. Over time, that filter becomes dirty and clogged. The dirtier your car’s air filter is, the less oxygen makes it to the engine and the harder your engine has to work. That equates to wasted fuel – money out of your pocket. Make sure you change your air filter regularly. Most automakers recommend changing it about every 15,000 miles, but that will vary based on your local driving conditions.
Another “hidden” factor that can affect your car’s fuel economy is the alignment. In an ideal situation, all four wheels track straight. Sadly, that ideal situation is rarely the reality. Almost all cars are out of alignment – it happens gradually. However, if your car is seriously out of alignment, you’ll find that your fuel economy (and tire life) suffers badly. This is because the tires aren’t tracking straight down the road surface. They’re turned inward or outward, and your engine has to struggle to keep things rolling.
As you can see, there are several ways that you can improve fuel economy, cut down pollution and save at the gas pump.
Don Elfrink is the owner and operator of AutoMatStore, an auto flooring company based out Columbia, Missouri. Before AutoMatStore, Elfrink was the operator of an automotive production site. AutoMatStore focuses on all-weather, logo, carpeted and molded car mats