How to use less gas – these tips could save you trips to the pump
With unleaded gasoline in New Jersey costing about $1.40 more per gallon than it did a year ago, you’re probably looking to take as few trips to the pump as possible.
By changing a few driving habits and keeping your car in good working order, you could significantly reduce the amount of fuel your vehicle actually uses, reducing the wasted dollars and cents every day.
To slow down
In most vehicles, fuel economy peaks at around 50 mph. Then it decreases as the speed increases.
“Reducing your highway speed by 5 to 10 mph can increase your fuel economy by up to 14 percent,” says Tracy Noble, spokeswoman for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Reducing your speed and just leveling your ride can go a long way.”
It’s not advisable to drive below the speed limit – many major highways in the Garden State have speed limits of 65 mph – but you use less gas by staying around the limit.
On long journeys, you can use cruise control to ensure a specific speed.
“Aggressive driving habits such as engine cranking, speeding, squealing in turns, and sticking the gas pedal are big fuel wasters,” State Farm says.
When approaching a traffic light or stop sign, release the pedal for a moment and allow your vehicle to downshift before applying the brake.
Motorists are urged to drive as “constantly” as possible, Noble says.
“Slow and steady will really help with those high prices,” she says.
Don’t just sit there
Idling uses more gas than restarting your engine. According to Noble, a car engine consumes between a quarter and a half gallon of fuel per hour when idling.
So taking that morning meeting in the car, or warming up the car for 15 minutes, is actually costing you.
“If you have to wait more than a minute or two in your parked vehicle, turn off the engine and only restart when you’re ready to continue driving,” State Farm advises. “In extreme weather it’s nice to get into a comfortable car, but be aware of how long the vehicle is idling so you don’t waste fuel.”
You would also benefit from turning your car off in stationary traffic, when you know you won’t be moving for a while. Newer cars come with a start/stop feature that temporarily stops the engine when a car is stationary.
Stay on top of repairs
This trick may seem counterproductive to some readers, because you’ll be spending money to save money. But even something as simple as keeping your tires properly inflated, which can be done for free in some places, can save you more time. Under-inflated tires are also dangerous.
Routine maintenance, such as oil changes and replacing air filters, will help your vehicle run more efficiently.
See this State Farm page for a list of preventative maintenance steps to perform.
Don’t carry heavy objects around unnecessarily – get crates of bottled water out of the car, for example, or children’s sports equipment. Additional weight creates drag and forces the vehicle to consume more gasoline.
Drag can also be reduced by keeping the windows and sunroof closed when driving at higher speeds.
And, of course, the less you drive, the less fuel you use. So if you have a number of errands to run, plan your trip ahead so you don’t backtrack.
“Right now, if people can take advantage of remote work to eliminate that five-day commute, that would be great,” adds Noble. “And if there are carpooling opportunities, take advantage of those as well.”
Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]
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