Keep fuel costs down with this helpful advice
By Brandy Schaffels
In this tough economy, we have to stretch our budgets farther than ever; considering how much time we spend in our cars hauling our kids around and running family errands, gas can be one of our larger expenses. Consider the following five tips to help you conserve fuel and save money at the pump.
1. Lighten the Load
The heavier your car is, the harder it has to work to move forward, so clear out the junk from your trunk. It might be easier to keep the kid’s hockey/baseball/bowling gear in the cargo area between practices, but every extra 100 pounds of stuff you carry can reduce your economy by 2%.
2. Check Your Tire Pressure
Driving with your tires at the improper inflation can reduce your efficiency by as much to 3%. Simply keeping your tires properly inflated can save $30 to $50 per year depending on how much you drive, so check them every month. Underinflated tires alone cost the country more than $3.5 million gallons of gasoline each day.
3. Maintain Your Vehicle
Keep up with your scheduled maintenance, and change your sparkplugs, oil and air filters as suggested in your owner’s manual. Research by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence shows that old, worn and dirty spark plugs are prone to misfires, reducing fuel efficiency by as much as 30%. And, replacing a clogged air filter can improve your fuel economy by as much as 10%.
4. Just Turn It Off
How much time do you spend sitting in carline or idling at the ATM? Idling for just 10 minutes per day can waste as much as 22 gallons per year. At $3 a gallon, that’s $66 in your pocket. *** (As it approaches or surpasses the $4 a gallon mark, that’s $88 per year)
5. Change your Driving Habits
Being in a hurry can affect your fuel economy in the worst way! Aggressive driving and excessive speed around town can reduce your gas mileage by as much as 50 cents per gallon, so avoid jackrabbit starts, stay within the speed limit and coast instead of braking. As a general rule, assume that each 10 mph over 50 reduces your fuel mileage by one mile per gallon, so that trip to Grandma’s at 80 mph could waste 30 cents per gallon. Use your cruise control on the highway whenever possible to help prevent creeping up in speed without realizing it. And when you’re driving around town, take your foot off the gas and coast to that red light—there’s no point in wasting gas if you’re just going to stop anyhow.
As an added bonus, if you follow these tips, not only will you save money on gas, you’ll also reduce wear and tear on your car, helping to save on expensive repairs and extending its lifespan. Keeping your tires properly inflated will make them last longer. Coasting more frequently will extend the life of your brakes. Following scheduled maintenance ensures your engine will run longer. Following these gas-saving tips actually pays you twice!