As gas prices catapulted to an all-time high, drivers have been thinking anew about ways to conserve fuel. Over the past month prices have come down steadily, but experts anticipate that between rising oil prices and seasonal demand, the decline won’t last long. What are some things you can do to improve fuel efficiency?
Don’t skip your tune-ups
Getting regular maintenance on your vehicle is the best way to maximize fuel economy.
“The best way to increase your gas mileage is to keep your tires inflated and do your regular maintenance as far as air filters and tune ups,” said Carl Hagan from Rev It Up Automotive in Sparta, NJ.
Cars should have their air filters changed periodically to promote engine health. A clean air filter helps protect the engine from being affected by harmful debris. A replacement can increase miles per gallon by 10 percent. Filters should be changed every 15,000 miles.
“Do the necessary maintenance on your car; don’t skip over it,” said John Young from J&J Automotive Enterprises in Andover, NJ. “ A lot of people have the tendency to not maintenance their car until it breaks down and they say, ‘While it’s there can you do an oil change?’ Just do the required maintenance on the car and that will truly increase the longevity.”
A faulty oxygen sensor, for instance, could affect a car’s fuel economy by 40 percent or more if left unchecked, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Keeping all your tires properly inflated is another great way to promote fuel efficiency, says Kevin from Quickie Service & Discount Tire in Harriman, NY. Check your tire pressure often and make sure to inflate whenever the tire pressure warning light comes on. You can find the optimal tire pressure in your owner’s manual or the sticker on the inside of the car door.
Keep it light
A quick yet effective way to increase fuel economy is to eliminate excess weight like bike racks or rooftop carriers, especially if unused. The heavier the car, the less efficient it will be.
Steer clear of stop-and-go
Everyone hates rush hour, but sitting in traffic is bad for your engine as well as your mood. The engine has to constantly keep revving itself up, a process that wastes great amounts of fuel. Highway traffic can lower your mileage by 15 to 30 percent, and stop-and-go traffic can cut it by 10 to 40 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Plan your route to avoid heavy traffic and congestion whenever possible. Thinking ahead is also key to coordinating ride shares.
Similar to sitting in traffic, idling your car wastes fuel and emits large amounts of greenhouse gas. Most cars do not need more than a minute to get their juices flowing. If you need to wait an extended period of time in a parked car, turn off your engine and only start it up when you are ready.
Buy the right gas
Get the right octane gas for your car. If the quality of the octane is too low, you will need more gas over time. But buyer beware: higher octane does not guarantee that it is actually better. Many people spend more on gas than necessary because they believe their car needs premium gas, but there’s no benefit in using premium gas if your car does not need it, according to AAA. Nearly 70 percent of vehicles in the United States require only regular gas. Collectively, drivers waste more than $2.1 billion a year buying premium gas. Check your vehicle’s owner manual to find out what octane fuel it actually needs.
Ease off the pedal
The driver has the greatest effect on their vehicle’s fuel economy. Aggressive driving such as speeding, rapid acceleration and braking lowers gas mileage by up to 30 percent at highway speeds, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Engines perform best at constant maintained speed, so start and stop gradually and avoid hard, sudden braking. Fuel efficiency drops significantly at speeds greater than 50 miles per hour. Cruise control could be a useful preventive measure to keep that lead foot from having its way. Simply driving 5 to 10 miles per hour slower than you’re used to could make a noticeable impact at the pump. A smooth, defensive driver is more efficient than a speedster.