Fuel prices are a little high this summer. Actually, they are the highest that any of us have ever seen. For many of us, that means fewer road trips over the summer break.
However, there are still some tricks to getting the most out of your tank even if fuel costs nearly $5.00 per gallon.
For manual transmissions:
- Inertia can be your friend. Try accelerating to the speed you want, then go for the highest possible gear to keep the revs low. Try to adjust your speed to “catch” traffic lights, even if you have to slow down to a snail’s pace. The idea is to (almost) never use the brakes and keep the momentum of the car moving you along. Although manual transmission vehicles are not nearly as common, shifting yourself can improve gas mileage by 2 to 5 gallons per mile.
- Leave plenty of room between you and the car ahead of you to avoid using your brakes or losing your forward momentum.
- Keep looking ahead. Change lanes accordingly in order to avoid slowing down or using the brakes.
- Of course, don’t rev that engine unless you have to. Operating at your highest gear will use less fuel.
- Don’t accelerate when going uphill. If you need to, speed up before you reach the uphill section of a road, and then maintain or reduce speed as you go up that hill.
- Coast when you can, but do that in gear. When you coast in gear and the engine is above a certain rpm (usually whatever is idle rpm for your particular car), the car feeds no fuel at all to the engine. If you coast in neutral, the Electronic Control Unit (ECU) still has to feed SOME fuel to the engine to keep it running.
For either automatic or manual transmissions:
- Check your tire pressure, and make sure they are at the appropriate levels. Over-inflate a bit if necessary as it’s better to have too much than not enough.
- When going above (approximately) 45 mph, keep all windows closed. Open windows cause drag, which in turn messes up the aerodynamics and increases your consumption.
- When you can get away with it, avoid using the A/C but don’t give yourself a heatstroke. Stay hydrated and of course never ever leave pets or children alone in a hot vehicle. Try investing in some discrete window tinting to cut down the heat.
- When going to a few different places, go to the farthest place first, then drive back to make the other stops. This will ensure that the engine is at operating temperature, and you do the stops and starts on a warm engine, rather than a cold one.
- Get rid of any unnecessary weight in the car. More weight in the vehicle of course means more power is needed to accelerate, which in turn means more fuel consumption.
- The trick is to reduce the time you spend accelerating. Push the pedal 2/3 of the way down, but not all the way down. Do this in a linear way and make sure you reach your intended speed as fast as possible. Then cruise at your intended speed. The car uses much less fuel when cruising than while accelerating.
- Drive smoothly. Even though that might prove to be difficult on some highways and byways here in the Natural State, try your best in order to get the maximum fuel efficiency out of your whip.
- Fuel up either in the morning or in the evening, when it is cooler outside
- Take your time when pumping that gas! Gas releases vapors, and pumping slower releases fewer of these vapors. If you pump your fuel too quickly you may not be getting as much as you would if you just took your time.
- It is recommended that you refill the tank once it is a quarter full. That allows you to leverage gas mileage since the vehicle is lighter with a partially filled tank.
We hope these tips help, and perhaps dispel some myths about fuel consumption. For instance, premium fuel will not improve your car’s gas mileage, but it will help ensure that your engine may last longer. Then there are the hybrids or electric cars, and other options like electric bicycles and scooters, and alternatives like public transportation, and even carpooling to consider if you are looking to save money or if you’re just interested in lessening your impact on the environment.