The rising cost of gas has hit everyone hard, no matter what type of car, truck, SUV or van you drive. It costs a considerable amount to fill up your tank today, and if you’re doing the wrong things with your car, it can seem like your entire paycheck is going into the gas tank. There are some things that will actually cause your gas mileage to sink very low, and it’s important that you avoid doing things that actually increase fuel consumption. Here are five things that you need to avoid doing if you want to save money at the gas pump.
1. Not Changing Your Air Filter
Most of us don’t give much thought to the air filter in our vehicle. It’s just…there. However, if you’re waiting too long to change it, you could be paying for it in increased fuel consumption. Why is this? In order to burn fuel, your engine has to have a supply of fresh oxygen. Without oxygen, fuel doesn’t combust. Your engine pulls in air through the breather and air filter. Over time, that filter will become clogged and blocked with dirt and debris, reducing the amount of air getting to the engine and, thus, making it struggle to ignite fuel correctly.
2. Low Tire Pressure
You might not think it to look at them, but your tires are designed to hold a specific amount of air pressure. If you’ve been “eyeballing” them to see if they look low, but not actually checking them with a tire pressure gauge, you could have a hidden source of additional fuel consumption. Low tire pressure means that your tires are softer, and your engine has to work harder to turn the wheels, further increasing the amount of gasoline required to move the vehicle down the road. Set your tire pressure according to the door placard and check it regularly.
3. Excessive Idling
Sometimes, you have no choice but to let your engine idle (when you’re stuck in traffic, for instance). However, there are other times when we choose to leave the engine running even though the car isn’t going anywhere. For instance, if you pull up to a convenience store and leave your engine running because you’ll “be right back”, all you’re doing is wasting gas. If you warm up the engine in the morning for more than about a minute, you’re just wasting gas. Essentially, you’re burning fuel without actually moving, which is reducing your fuel economy.
4. Driving the Wrong Way
You don’t need to have the nickname of “Lead Foot” to be guilty of driving aggressively. If you’re punching the gas, you’re doing nothing but killing your gas mileage. The two most important things to stop doing are punching the gas hard off a start and braking hard. Accelerate more slowly and you’ll see your gas mileage improve. Start braking well before you get to the stop sign or red light and you’ll see the same benefits. Finally, try to avoid speeding – driving over about 65 MPH has a very serious penalty when it comes to how much gas you use.
5. You’re Loaded Down
How much extra weight are you carrying in your car? Is your trunk full of unnecessary things? How much extraneous stuff are you hauling around in the back seat? Interestingly, the more weight you haul in your car, the worse your fuel economy will be. Essentially, every hundred pounds of weight your car pulls drops your fuel economy by up to 2%. That can add up very quickly, as it can be difficult to assess just how much unnecessary weight is in your car.
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 logo, carpeted, molded and all weather floor mats.