How to Improve Fuel Efficiency

No matter what you drive, all drivers agree on the fact that gasoline is expensive. Fortunately, there are ways you can become more fuel efficient and reduce the cost of fueling your vehicle.

From the car experts at Christian Brothers Automotive, here are some useful tips on creating a fuel-efficient vehicle:

Get Rid of Your Lead Foot

If you’re quickly accelerating away from traffic lights and stop signs, you’re wasting gas. The same goes with speeding on the highway. Your gas mileage can drop by as much as 15 percent between driving at or below 65 MPH and driving above 65 MPH. Keep the speed limit and observe lights and stop signs ahead of you. Moderately decreasing your speed as you approach a stop is much more fuel efficient than slamming on your brakes from full speed.

Avoid Excessive Idling

Not only is idling damaging to the environment, it’s also bad for your car. Idling can use a quarter to half a gallon of fuel per hour, depending on the engine size and air conditioner use. Turning off your engine when your vehicle is parked can actually save you money, seeing as you aren’t starting the engine more than 10 times per day. Limiting electric use (radio, air conditioner) during shutdown will also save fuel and money. Make sure to drive at least five miles between start cycles so you can fully recharge the car battery.

Keep Your Car Maintained

A well-kept engine, properly inflated tires and usage of recommended grade of motor oil can save you up to $0.09 per gallon. Driving on under-inflated tires can lower your gas mileage by about 0.2 percent and increases your risk of an accident. You can also improve mileage by up to 2 percent by using the car manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil.

Maintain Your Tire Pressure

According to the Department of Energy, properly maintained air pressure can improve fuel economy by 3.3%, while poor improper inflation can lower gas mileage by 0.3% per each drop in 1 psi for all four tires. New cars will often have an electronic tire pressure monitor system, but on older vehicles and as a matter of good practice be sure to maintain your vehicles tire pressure to exact specification to save on gas. Your vehicle’s door jamb, owner’s manual as well as the tires themselves will have tire pressure guidelines to follow.

One thing to keep an eye out for; depending on the make and model of your vehicle, your car’s front and rear sets of tires may have different ideal tire pressures.

Also, as a matter of precaution, don’t forget to check on the spare tire once a month to make sure that it is properly inflated should you encounter a flat tire while on the road. Not only do properly inflated tires preserve the tread life of your tires, they also serve to improve your vehicle’s overall stability and safety.

Lighten Your Load

Consider carefully what you need on a journey. If there’s something you don’t need, don’t pack it. Take off roof racks if you don’t need them, as they create wind drag. The lighter your load, the lower the fuel consumption and emissions. An extra 100 pounds in your trunk can reduce the car’s fuel economy by one to two percent.

Combine Errands

Take one longer, multipurpose trip instead of several short trips. Going on several short trips from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer trip that covers the same distance on a warm engine. Plan your errands so you can travel when the engine is warmed-up and efficient.

Stay Off Rough Roads

Dirt and gravel can eliminate up to 30 percent of your gas mileage. Each time the wheels bounce up and down, forward motion energy is removed from the vehicle. The vehicle will slow down from the transfer of energy, which causes the driver to apply more throttle and waste fuel.

Avoid Car Drag

According to James Smith, former president of the Society of Automotive Engineers, “When you remove that roof line, you have more room for the air to get recirculated back in.” This drag resists acceleration, which makes the car fight harder to maintain a consistent speed.

Even driving at low speeds with a wind deflector can lower drag and increase MPG. Wind deflectors and windscreens also help reduce the uncomfortable noise and intrusion usually associated with an open sunroof. When driving at high speeds, simply close the windows and keep your convertible top up.

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