Fuel costs have been rising steadily for a few years, and even more-so these past few months, and probably won’t be going down any time soon. Similarly, CO2 emissions have more than doubled in the last twenty years. We are finally hitting a road block where we need to accept that we have no choice but to change our driving habits to improve gas mileage. It is hard to deny that pollution causes serious problems for our environment and that cars on the road spew out a lot of pollution. When we bought our 2011 Subaru Outback having it be a PZEV was important to us on the emissions front and the fact it gives us 9.5 km/litre city and 6.9 kn/litre highway meant we’d save gas and that was attractive as well considering how much cargo capacity it has.
We can’t always just drive less – this isn’t practical advice for most of us. And it isn’t always practical to buy hybrid vehicles. We live busy lives, but we can at least change our driving habits to reduce our fuel expenditures and protect the environment at the same time.
Here are sixteen ways you can conserve fuel and improve gas mileage:
- Slow down, obey the speed limit. When you drive faster your engine works harder and consumes more fuel. You can save about 7%-10% of your fuel every time you reduce your speed by 10 kilometers per hour.
- Try car pooling. Split the gas cost of commuting. If you can split this expense you will spend much less on fuel.
- Consolidate trips. Try to run multiple errands in a single trip. Your car won’t need to warm up as often and you will spend less time and fuel traveling back and forth to your destinations.
- Get a Tune Up. Making sure the fluids and moving pieces in your engine and other vehicle systems will ensure that the fuel you burn is maximized.
- Reduce drag. Items such as roof racks, ski racks and roof boxes mean there is more friction trying to cut through the wind you are driving through. If you can remove these items you reduce drag.
- Keep your tires properly inflated. You can improve your gas mileage consumption by up to 3.3 percent by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.3 percent for every 1 PSI drop in pressure. Properly inflated tires are safer and last longer.
- Fill up during the coolest part of the day. Gas is a liquid and will be densest during the coolest part of the day. You want to fill up when the gas will be densest as fuel is sold in volume, not weight.
- Keep the load light. Don’t drive with more stuff than you need to, which can be accomplished by cleaning out your trunk. The same goes for keeping a boat or camping trailer attached to your car when you’re not needing them. The extra weight decreases gas mileage. Every 250 pounds your car is carrying will reduce fuel economy by 1 mpg.
- Check your car’s air filter. A dirty air filter will reduce performance and will not improve gas mileage.
- Use cruise control. Try to drive as smoothly as possible and use cruise control when possible to maintain your speed. Constantly accelerating and reducing your speed can cause you to waste a third of your gas.
- Don’t try to save those few pennies. Your car will spend more fuel while idling in line waiting for access to the pump than you will save at the pump itself.
- Don’t ride the brakes. Not only is this bad for your brakes, but it can force you to spend 35% more on fuel.
- Check your gas cap. Gas evaporates and if you don’t tighten the cap you will lose litres/gallons of fuel!
- Get an engine tune up. Make sure that you get regular tune ups. Doing so will keep your car running properly and help you save on your gas costs.
- Avoid Idling. When you are idling you are burning fuel but not getting any miles per gallon. Turn that engine off if you plan to be stopped for 30 seconds or more.
- Use people power. When possible ride a bike, roller blade or walk to where you need to go. This week in Peterborough there is a program called Shifting Gears where employers compete to see who burns the least carbon in their commute. Some great prizes for participants too.
As much as most people dislike high gas prices, they probably aren’t going down anytime soon. Practicing better driving skills will save you money on fuel and make your car last longer at the same time. The environment and your wallet will thank for your efforts as well.