With escalating price of gas, buying a fuel-efficient car makes a lot of sense. Approximately 15% of new car buyers reject a model due to poor gas mileage. Nearly 40% of those consumers who eliminate a full-size SUV due to gas mileage ultimately purchase a midsize SUV instead, while nearly 20% purchase another model altogether. (J.D. Power and Associates, Sept. 2004.)
But even if you don't currently own a fuel-efficient car, there are lots of ways you can improve fuel efficiency of your present vehicle until you're ready to purchase one of best gas mileage cars. Your personal driving habits have a big effect on your fuel use and costs. You can better manage your vehicle operating costs as well as minimize emissions it produces by driving less and more efficiently. Here are some tips to help.
First, you need to know what kind of mileage you are getting. Calculate this by filling up your tank and recording odometer reading-or you can reset your trip gauge to zero. Next time you get gas, fill tank again and divide miles you traveled between fill ups by quantity of gas you bought on this fill-up. This is your car's miles per gallon or mpg. If it's pretty dismal, here's how to turn your fuel guzzler into a fuel saver:
Drive slower: The aerodynamic drag on your car increases noticeably faster you drive. The drag force at 70 mph is about double that at 50 mph, so keeping speed down can increase your mileage considerably. Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds over 60 mph. Each 5 mph above 60 mph is like paying an additional $.10/gallon for gas. Observing speed limit is also safer for everyone.
Maintain a constant speed: Every time you speed up, you use energy, some of which is wasted when you slow car down again. By maintaining a constant speed, especially driving posted speed limit, you will improve your fuel efficiency. Just by increasing your highway cruising speed from 62 mph to 74 mph you increase fuel consumption by about 20%! Using cruise control on highway helps you maintain a constant speed and will usually save gas.
Drive gently: Aggressive driving-speeding, rapid acceleration and hard braking-wastes gas. These bad habits can lower your gas mileage by 33% at highway speeds and 5% in city. In addition, reasonable driving is safer for you and others, so you may be saving more than gas money. Consider using overdrive gears on highway, as this decreases engine speed, reducing fuel usage and engine wear.
Avoid Excess Idling: Idling gets 0 miles/gallon and wastes fuel and money, is hard on engine and adds to toxic emissions. Cars with larger engines typically waste more gas at idle than those with smaller engines. Turn off your engine if you think you will be stopped for more than 30 seconds. However, if you're driving a fuel-efficient car like a hybrid, your electric motor is on when you idle, so you're not wasting any gas at all!
Minimize air conditioning: Using your air conditioner in hot weather can increase your fuel consumption by more than 20% in city driving. Whenever possible, close all windows and use air vents to circulate air instead of air conditioning. You will improve your fuel efficiency in summer by minimizing use of air conditioning and using your car's flow-through ventilation, especially on highway. If you must use air conditioning, set controls to a level that lets system cycle, and turn it off once interior of car is cooled down enough. Also consider such options a sunroof and tinted glass to keep car cool.
Keep Your Car in Shape: Maintaining your vehicle in top working condition saves you fuel and money, and reduces long-term maintenance costs while minimizing harmful emissions.
Keep Your Engine Properly Tuned-Getting regular tune-ups when your car is out of tune or has failed an emissions test may improve gas mileage by about 4%. If your car has a faulty oxygen sensor and you have it fixed, gas mileage could improve as much as 40%. Make sure spark plugs, if you have them, are firing properly, replacing them when necessary. Have engine timing checked for accuracy.