The price of gas has got everyone talking. It seems that people who need a bigger vehicle to carry family and gear, or provide four wheel drive, are especially hit hard. That is why we thought it would be good to review some things that anyone can do to improve fuel economy.
First let's start with how we drive. People may not realize that they can really save on gas by just changing a few driving habits. One of the biggest is jackrabbit starts - you know, flooring the gas as soon as the light turns green. That really wastes a lot of fuel. Building up your speed at a slower pace uses less fuel and is easier on your engine and drive train. And don't drive with one foot on the brake. That's also a drag on fuel economy, and it wears out your brakes faster too.
Another thing is to drive slower - but only when it's safe. Sometimes on the highway we drive an extra five ... ten . . . twenty ... over the speed limit. We do it to save time, but it only saves a few minutes out of maybe an hour long drive, and we may use 10 to 15 % more gas. Just leave a little bit earlier, save some money and arrive more relaxed.
You can also try and group all of your errands for the day into just one trip, rather than several. If you can put off a trip today that can be combined with one tomorrow - you can save some time and money.
Using your cruise control can save money too. Driving at a constant speed really improves fuel economy. Be sure to only use your cruise control under safe conditions - you can look in your owner's manual for some good tips on using your cruise control.
Did you know that reducing the weight in your vehicle saves gas? Clean out the trunk or back seat from time to time so that you are not paying to carry around a lot of stuff you do not need in the car. If you live where there is snow and ice, clear it off your car. They add weight and mess with aerodynamics too.
Another tip is to avoid long idle times, which includes warming it up when you start. Modern engines do not require a long warm up to get going - just take it easy for a couple of miles.
Be sure to get a new gas cap if yours leaks or is worn.
Now, let's start talking mechanical. Bottom line - the better you maintain your vehicle, the less fuel you will use. It all adds up in a big way. For example, replacing your dirty engine air filter will pay for itself in fuel savings before your next oil change - and will keep saving you money after that.
A clean, well-maintained fuel system really pays big dividends. A clogged fuel filter wastes gas. So does a dirty fuel system, grimy fuel injectors and plugged up PCV valves. A fuel system service decreases the gas you use, and increases the power - so you can't go wrong with that.
Some of us ignore our Check Engine light. But fixing the problem that caused the light to come on will usually save some fuel as well. It may be a bad oxygen sensor that can really rob your fuel economy.
And, it may be time for a tune-up. Tune-ups should improve your fuel economy. Don't overlook the routine maintenance items, like scheduled oil changes, transmission and cooling system service. Dirty or low fluids actually use more fuel. Just look at your manufactruer's recommended service intervals in the owner's manual, or ask your AutoAid & Rescue service advisor for the schedule.
Don't forget your tires. Underinflated tires waste gas. And if your wheels are out of alignment you won't get the economy you need.
None of these things are very complicated or expensive to stay on top of. When you maintain your car properly, you save gas today, and prevent costly repairs tomorrow.