By: Norman Talon
In many urban areas, vehicle emissions are the single largest source of green house gases. But for many years, low gas prices have had the effect of discouraging the use of smaller, fuel efficient vehicles.
Today’s record gas prices have people switching to smaller, more efficient vehicles, taking public transportation (i.e., the bus), or just walking. But if none of these options are available to you, do not despair; there are a few things you can do to cut down on your gasoline cost.
- Use the grade you need. Most vehicles today can run on regular unleaded so unless the user manual says “Use Premium Unleaded Only”, then don’t. Doing so does not give you any added performance benefits.
- Slow down. Wind resistance increases as you speed up and you loose as much as 15% fuel efficiency for every 10 mph increase in speed.
- Avoid jackrabbit starts, tailgating, or pumping the gas pedal. Starts and stops increase fuel consumption dramatically.
- Avoid idling for long. If you expect to be in traffic for more than a couple of minutes, turn of your engine. You actually use less gasoline starting your engine than running on idle for more than a minute. Cars don't need to be warmed up also. Driving them gently is the best warm up there is. If it is below 25F then you may want to warm it up for about 30 seconds.
- Getting into the highest gear you can, at the lowest possible speed, will save you plenty of gas.
- Maintain speed when climbing uphill, don’t increase it. Make sense?
- Anticipate stops. Accelerate slowly, and then coast to the next light. If you see a need to stop up ahead, coast. Don't continue to accelerate and then brake at the last minute.
- Turn off the air conditioning when it is not hot. The AC forces the engine to work harder and therefore use more fuel.
- Check your tire pressure. The softer your tires are, the greater the friction between the road and the rubber, and the harder your engine will have to work to move the car. You loose 0.4% mileage for every one pound drop in tire pressure on all four tires. Do not over inflate either as this would affect your vehicles handling. Your best bet is to follow the manufacturers recommended setting.
- Regular service can spot lots of problems that reduce gas mileage and increase pollution, such as a broken thermostat, low transmission fluid, sticky brake calipers, or something as simple as a dirty air filter.