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Friday, March 27, 2009

Increase your Mileage with these Gas Saving Tips

The summer traveling season is fast approaching and with it the inevitable rise in the cost of gasoline.

Obviously the best way to save gas is to buy a fuel efficient vehicle such as a hybrid but, in the current economic conditions, that isn't an option for most people. Regardless of the type of vehicle you have there are always ways to save on the cost of gas and, no matter how old your car, you can still increase your gas mileage by following a few simple tips.

  • Know your gas mileage - It is hard to know if your gas mileage is improving if you don’t know how what your current average mile per gallon (mpg). When you fill your tank, set your trip odometer or record your mileage. The next time you fill your tank, divide the mileage driven between fill-ups by the amount of gas it took to fill your tank. After several tanks, determine what your average mpg is for all the different types of driving that you do. Once you see your mpg start to increase, it will be easier to stick to your gas saving measures.
  • Maintain your engine - Making sure your engine is tuned and your oil changes are conducted on a regular basis will make your engine run more efficiently.
  • Proper tire inflation – Underinflated tires create drag and over-inflated tires don’t maintain the proper contact with the road. Consult your owner’s manual for the proper inflation level and check the air volume regularly.
  • Air conditioning - Your air conditioner can be the largest single drag on your gas consumption. If you live in the south you have probably come to see the air conditioner not as a luxury option but as a necessity however, knowing when to use the air conditioner can save gas. Modern cars are designed to be aero-dynamic. That means that, at high speeds, the car will run more efficiently with the windows closed. At interstate speeds the trade-off between running the air conditioner and the drag created by opening the windows is negligible so when you are driving at highway speeds go ahead and use the air conditioner. If the temperature permits, driving with the windows open at lower speeds in city traffic can keep you cool and save you a tremendous amount of gas.
  • If you can't slow down, at least do the speed limit - Stepping on the gas to maintain a higher speed obviously uses more gas; the higher the speed, the more gas that is used. If everyone did the speed limit, not only would traffic flow more smoothly, millions of barrels of oil could be saved.
  • Accelerate more slowly - It takes a lot of gas to move a heavy car from a standing stop up to speed. If you have an automatic transmission, before stepping on the gas, after stopping for a traffic light, pause for a second or two between taking your foot off the brake and stepping on the gas. Once the brakes are released, a car with an automatic transmission will normally start rolling on its own. It’s a lot easier to speed up a car that is already moving than one from a full stop; waiting one or two seconds before stepping on the accelerator will save gas. Are you the type of driver that is prone to jack-rabbit starts? Accelerating quickly compared to a gradual smooth start wastes gas.
  • Brake sooner - Keeping your foot on the gas for longer periods uses gas. When you see traffic slow or the light ahead change to red, take your foot off the gas and allow the car to slow down gradually before applying the brakes.
  • Use your cruise control - Drivers are pretty erratic when it comes to maintaining a constant speed. Constantly stepping on the gas or allowing your speed to increase through inattention not only wastes gas but can result in a speeding ticket. Your cruise control maintains a constant speed automatically and saves you gas at the same time. Learn how to use your cruise control properly. If you need to adjust the speed, you can do it more smoothly by using the acceleration and deceleration features on the cruise control. You can use the acceleration button on your cruise control to make minor adjustments of as little as a 1/4 mph. When braking, use your deceleration button to de-activate the cruise control and gradually slow down. Cruise controls can be used at speeds as low as 25 mph. By learning to use the cruise control all the time, you not only can save a lot of gas but you can also avoid getting a speeding ticket.
  • Keep your car aero-dynamic -Removing items like ski and bicycle racks when they are not in use will eliminate unnecessary drag on your vehicle and increase your mpg.

    Following these few simple tips can increase your gas mileage by up to 35%. That is a significant savings and, in these hard economic times, every little bit helps.

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