Five Easy Tips for Saving Money on Gas
Slowing down, and ensuring your car is in proper tune are just two things the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) recommends for the millions of cash-strapped consumers trying a save money of gas as they struggle to beat the high cost of living.
At today’s (May 22, 2008) national average regular gasoline price of $3.83 per gallon, even small increases in fuel economy can add up to big savings. Over the short-term, UCS says, drivers can reduce their fuel use with routine maintenance and smart driving habits. Over the long-term, the national science advocacy group recommends that they buy more fuel-efficient vehicles.
Don't Speed. Most cars hit their fuel-efficiency sweet spot around 55 miles per hour, but fuel economy quickly declines at higher speeds. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), observing the speed limit can boost fuel economy between 7 and 23 percent. This alone is equivalent to getting a 25-to-71-cent-per-gallon discount at the gas pump. (UCS also reminds drivers that it wastes gas to hit the accelerator when driving toward a red light or a stop sign, or to floor the gas pedal when a stoplight turns green.)
Check Your Tires. Just as it’s harder to pedal a bike with a flat tire, vehicles with underinflated tires require more energy to move down the road. According to DOE, keeping tires properly inflated can boost fuel economy about 3 percent, equivalent to an 11-cent-per-gallon discount at the pump. Tires naturally lose 1 to 2 pounds of pressure (pounds per square inch, or psi) each month, so if you haven’t checked them lately, there’s a good chance they’re underinflated. Be sure to follow the instructions for safely inflating your particular tires. Overinflating tires increases the risk of a blowout.
Get A Tune Up. Make sure your car is in top shape by getting regular tune-ups, spark plug checks, oil changes, brake and fluid level checks, and air filter replacements. According to DOE, replacing a dirty air filter alone can boost mpg as much as 10 percent. At today’s fuel prices, that’s equivalent to a 35-cent-per-gallon discount.
Be Weight Conscious. Don’t overstuff your car with unnecessary items for your Memorial Day trip. For every 100 pounds of extra weight in your vehicle, fuel economy decreases by 1 to 2 percent. In other words, adding 100 pounds of luggage to your car is akin to paying 4 to 7 cents more per gallon. If you must pack a lot of gear, try to fit it inside the car instead of on a roof rack. Roof racks create wind resistance that can lower fuel economy.
Buy A High MPG Vehicle. Consumers can save the most money by driving less and purchasing the most fuel-efficient vehicle that meets their needs. Car and truck buyers can also take advantage of more efficient options, such as choosing a four-cylinder engine option instead of a six-cylinder, or a two-wheel drive option rather than four-wheel drive. Also, keep in mind that tomorrow’s vehicles will be more fuel-efficient. A recent law passed by Congress requires fuel economy to climb to a minimum average of 35 mpg by 2020, equivalent to more than a dollar-per-gallon discount at the pump at today’s prices. So keep an eye out for more efficient models coming soon to a showroom near you.
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