Friday, September 14, 2012

Handy Car Features That Minimize Gasoline Usage

The quest for relief from oppressive gas prices have led drivers on searches far and wide for ways to minimize the effect of the high prices on their wallets.  However, many drivers are literally at arm’s length from ways to help themselves, and do not even know it!  In fact, many features that come standard with new vehicles are not only convenient, but can help you to save on gas usage as well.

Since every gallon counts at today’s gas prices, even the simplest improvements to gas mileage can lead to more money in your pockets.  Although many products make gaudy claims to improve gas mileage drastically, most (if not all) of these claims are unproven.  As usual, the best remedies are usually the simple and somewhat obvious ones.  For instance, use your car’s already existing features to ease up on your gas usage when you are driving around from place to place.

Yaris Cruise Control
Yaris Cruise Control (Photo credit: nebarnix)
Cruise control is a great feature for many reasons.  It can keep you from having to glance down at your speed all the time, for one thing.  This means that you can avoid getting a speeding ticket by merely setting a consistent speed that will not get you pulled over.  Using the cruise control feature effectively takes away any chance of you accidentally getting a heavy foot and an unintended speeding ticket as a result. 

However, cruise control is also a great way to conserve gas!  When you are on the highway, the cruise control can help your car to stay at a consistent speed.  This means that you will not be accidentally increasing your speed and making the car periodically work harder. 

If you have an “overdrive” option for your car, you should use the overdrive gears whenever possible.  Overdrive allows your engine to work much less than it would otherwise.  Of course, the less your engine works, the less gasoline you use.  In other words, overdrive alone will increase your vehicle’s fuel efficiency. 

While you are at it, keep your eye on your RPM gauge, especially if you drive a manual transmission automobile - but you can learn to use this in an automatic car as well.  After all, any time your car is running in the high end of the RPM range, you are using more engine power than you need to, and thus more gas.  Make sure that you are not staying in the low gears for too long before shifting, and spend as much time in the comfortable RPM range of higher gears as you can, since you will save yourself some gas in the process.  The RPM gauge is another example of an under-utilized feature that, if used correctly, can help you to conserve gas. (In an automatic transmission car, with a little practice, you can learn to use the gas pedal to shift gears smoothly and work your way up into the higher gears sooner.)

English: 'Symbol of Air conditioning in a BMW ...
Symbol of Air conditioning in a BMW car. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
While we are talking about features to use, let’s also mention a feature that you should stay away from if you are trying to conserve gas: the air conditioning feature.  If you turn on your car’s air conditioning, your car will end up working much harder than usual, which means your car will consume more gas to fuel that work.  The easy translation here is to avoid the air conditioning whenever you can.  After all, it may be hot out, but you definitely do not want to have to sweat it out while pumping gas into your empty tank, right? Whenever the weather is cool enough, crack the windows a bit and enjoy the breeze - and save money on gas.

As you can see, there are many fairly basic features your car may already have that, with regular use, can help you go longer between trips to the gas station.  Even though some of these features may only have a small effect on your car’s gas usage, if you follow all of the tips, it will add up.  With gas prices as high as they are now, even if you can save a gallon or two here and there, that can be a pretty substantial savings for you!

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