Wednesday, September 12, 2012

4 Little-Known Ways to Improve Fuel Economy

There is not a single driver among us who would not prefer to spend less of their hard-earned cash at the fuel pump.  That is why people are becoming more and more aware of the many simple and cost effective ways that they can improve their fuel economy.  However, what do you say to people who are already familiar with the basics?  Fortunately, there are many little known ways that you can improve your gas mileage.

English: Steady speed fuel economy 1997 study
Steady speed fuel economy 1997 study (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Just about everyone knows that if you want to save gas, you need to drive slower.  By now that's pretty much common sense. But even though you can save a lot of gas by going slower on the highway, many people are unwilling to do so. So what are some ways to increase gas mileage without having to do things that you are not willing to do in the long term?

1. First of all, stop neglecting the regular maintenance that your car needs.  According to studies, a dirty air filter can cost you up to 20% of the gas mileage you should be receiving.  A quick change of spark plugs can increase your fuel economy by over 10%.  Also, many people are not aware that they can increase their gas mileage simply by keeping their tires properly inflated!

2. Similarly, too many drivers are carting around a vehicle full of unnecessary things that are robbing them of valuable gas mileage.  For every 250 pounds of excess gear in your car, you can count on around one mile per gallon lost.  Also, make sure that you take bike racks and other items off of your vehicle when it is not the proper season.  It may take a few minutes, but such items produce extra wind resistance, which makes your vehicle work harder to accelerate or maintain speed.

3. You can even save some money on gas while you’re spending money- at the gas pump, that is.  For example, when the auto shut off kicks in, do not squeeze in a couple of extra cents to make the dollar amount even.  This is one of the ways in which people waste money, since most of that extra gas will not end up properly going in the tank.  Also, most drivers are unaware that a loose gas cap can not only cause your “service engine” light to go on, but can also result in lost gasoline, which escapes as vapor out of the tank.

English: EPA fuel economy and environmental co...
EPA fuel economy and environmental comparison label for the 2011 Chevrolet Volt (Dual fuel vehicle electricity-gasoline) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
4. Finally, make sure that you use your car’s features to their maximum effect.  You can save a little money on gas by using your cruise control often, since your engine will not be working to match the fluctuations in pressure that you are putting on the gas pedal.  Also, make sure that you use the overdrive function when possible, since it allows your engine to avoid overworking itself.

Driving and maintaining your vehicle in a way that allows for increased fuel economy is mostly a matter of having the proper knowledge, then putting that information to work.  It is vital that you not only know the methods for increasing gas mileage, but that you are consistent in their implementation, as just trying one of these tips once or twice isn't likely to make a significant difference in your fuel efficiency - you need to make it a habit.
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