Whether you are planning on a cross-country road trip or just driving a few miles for groceries, the rising cost of fuel, the dependency on foreign oil and the damage fuel production and usage causes to our environment is something to think about. There is no way to completely reduce these problems, at least while still owning and using a fuel-burning vehicle, but there are many ways to minimize them.
* Top running condition - If your car is maintained at its optimum condition, including frequent oil changes, tune-ups and any necessary repairs, it will burn less fuel. Make sure the fuel cap is always tightly sealed and external trim is properly secured. The cost of these items could even be balanced out by the savings in fuel cost if you drive a great deal.
* Good tires - Monitor the condition of your tires and replace them when they are starting to show wear. Even if they don’t show any problems, they should be replaced on a regular basis, depending upon the specifications of the tire. Make sure to maintain proper tire pressure as well; underinflated tires cause a huge waste of fuel.
* Proper speed - Maintaining the speed limit is not only good for your safety, it’s good for your fuel efficiency as well. The optimum driving speed is around 55 mph, and every mile above 60 mph costs you.
* Slow your stops and starts - Gunning the engine to hit 60 like a race car wastes fuel, and waiting until you are upon a stop sign to stop pressing on the fuel is not only dangerous but a waste as well. Always accelerate at a slow, even pace and anticipate stops by letting your car coast a while before you need to start braking.
* Air conditioning - Whether or not to use the AC in your car should be dictated by the speed you are driving. When driving in town and making frequent stops, running the AC gets expensive due to the higher idling of your engine, so opt for windows down if possible. On the highway, however, having the windows down will create a wind-drag on your vehicle and have the opposite effect. It is best to keep all windows shut tightly and the AC running as low as is comfortable when driving at higher speeds.
* Lighten up - Reduce the amount of weight in your trunk and on top of your car to reduce drag. Non-essential items in the trunk, such as sandbags, an old flat tire, canned goods or tools cause your engine to work harder and use more fuel. If you aren’t specifically transporting the heavy items somewhere, then take them out. The same goes for items on top of your car. Remove luggage racks if possible, and do not use them to carry items unless there is no room elsewhere for them. Modern vehicles are designed to let the air flow smoothly over the car, but having items on top interrupts that flow creating a drag on the engine.
These are just a handful of the top things you can do to reduce your fuel mileage. You can test out a variety of options for your car by keeping track of your habits and fuel mileage or by installing a mileage meter. Learn more about ways to reduce your fuel consumption through educational websites such as EcoDrivingUSA.com and DriveSmarterChallenge.org.