Fuel Economy Solutions Overview
As the gas prices and fuel keeps rising, people are searching for solutions to make their vehicles more fuel efficient and to otherwise save money on gas in the course of the day. Aside from price shopping to save a few pennies per gallon of gas, there are many ways to get better fuel economy, to make your vehicle more fuel efficient. Of course there are alternatives to sitting in an idling vehicle burning gas which include walking, riding a bike, carpooling, working from home or perhaps taking the bus to work and around town.
Impact of driving habits on fuel consumption
- Driving at moderate speeds can realize substantial fuel economy savings. It's a fact that he faster you drive the more fuel your vehicle proportionately uses. According to a survey done by the Automotive Fleet publication, drivers can save 15% fuel by driving at 55 versus 65 miles per hour. Other surveys suggest 10% which we support. As your speed rises the percentage increases, particularly with boxier wind resistent vehicles.
- The lighter your vehicle, the less energy it takes to propel it. This not only means smaller vehicles in general, but also removing excess heavy items from your car. An AutoZone study suggests that removing 200 pounds in weight can increase fuel economy on some vehicles by 1 mile per gallon.
- Reduce the urge to use the air conditioner all the time, i.e. when it's not necessary. Aside from the fact that fresh air feels good as it breezes by, the AC can drain 10% of your fuel economy. However let it be known that there are disadvantages to running with the windows open as well as this can cause additional negative drag on the vehicle.
- Reduce idling time. If you're going to be sitting at a railroad crossing or perhaps caught in a major traffic jam for minutes shut the engine off.
- Emptying the roof rack when not in use will reduce the drag coefficient on your vehicle.
- When filling up with fuel at the pump, use the lowest octane rating recommended for your vehicle. Filling up with higher octane generally will not improve economy but will impact your wallet. Also ensure that your gas cap is tight, otherwise fuel may evaporate.
- Driving habits do make a difference. There are times when you need to use your vehicle's power, but in typical situations acceleration with the lead foot takes more energy than easy acceleration.
- Fuel up in the morning when temperature is cooler and fuel is the densest. The denser it is means that you are effectively getting more per gallon as the air warms and fuel expands.
- With standard shift vehicles and automatics get your vehicle into the highest gear at the lowest reasonable speed. Manufacturers' manuals typically give some recommendations for shifting speed. If you have a 5 speed stick and can safely get your vehicle into 5th gear at 40 miles per hour so. You can see the difference in engine speed if you have a tachometer. However don't abuse this practice and shift into a high gear when the car is going too slow as this can cause the engine to work extra hard and potentially cause damage.
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- Read tire reviews (online) before purchasing tires. Clearly not all tires are created equally. Some both ride heavier and will cause decreased fuel economy. Some of the good review sites will support this fact. Wider tires may look and feel great, but that extra 20% rubber on the road increases the drag coefficient which in itself drops your gas mileage.
- Do the math when purchasing a vehicle. For the most part smaller engines are more fuel efficient than larger ones, also cost significantly less to manufacture and correspondingly less in future maintenance.
- Buy a diesel? Well the jury is out on this one. At the time of this writing the cost of diesel fuel in Colorado is about $.75 more than regular gas, i.e. $4.55 compared to $3.80 which is about about 20% higher. Diesel engines commonly get 25% to 30% better fuel economy than regular engines so perhaps the miles per gallon savings is between 5% to 10%. However, diesel vehicles commonly cost about $2000 more than non diesels. Ultimately you may save money on fuel but unless you drive the vehicle 120,000 miles plus the fuel cost savings will never meet the additional vehicle cost.
Maintenance and fuel economy
Keeping your vehicle tuned-up will greatly impact its fuel efficiency.
- Regularly check that your tires are properly inflated. Underinflated tires can increase the drag coefficient significantly in addition to being a safety risk. 4 - 5 psi underinflation can potentially cost 10% in fuel economy.
- Clean air filters are worth their weight in gold. When the air filter clogs with dirt, dust and other crud, your vehicle becomes less fule-efficient because it is forced to work harder. Replacing a clogged air filter could improve your gas mileage by as much as 10 percent and save you 15 cents a gallon depending on the price of fuel. Have it checked regularly, every 3 to 6 months, and replaced if necessary. A few dollars in prevention can save you a bunch. If you're into long term goals think about purchasing one of the cleanable filters. They will cost up front but save bucks over the long haul.