We are seeing unprecedented gas prices across the nation. Watching our cars’ fuel level sink takes our hearts right down with it, and we have found ourselves craning our necks each time we pass a gas station: is that one a little cheaper? While things in the fuel department remain uncertain, there are several ways you can improve your vehicle’s efficiency to save money on gas.
Pump It Up
One of the most important things you can do to improve your car’s efficiency is to make sure all your tires are fully inflated. This will improve their performance and the overall performance of the car. The engine will not have to fight to propel the rest of the vehicle along the road, so your gas mileage will also improve, allowing you to save money on gas.
Turn Up the Heat
And by that we mean shut off the AC. This one is actually one of the minor tricks on the list. When in operation, the AC system adds a load on the engine, and anything that does that has the potential to increase gas usage. However, most of the time the added strain is slight at best. It is most noticeable when towing, when the increased burden on the engine can increase fuel consumption by 20%. Bottom line: when towing, refrain from using the AC (within reason). Otherwise, there are other ways that are far more effective at improving efficiency.
On a Roll
For example, rolling up the windows. Driving with the windows rolled down reduces fuel efficiency even more than blasting the AC. A vehicle with the windows up is more aerodynamic, whereas rolling down the windows creates drag on a vehicle, increasing resistance and forcing the engine to work harder. If you want to save money on gas, roll up the windows.
The statistics for efficiency comparisons differ between vehicles; a sedan that is already more aerodynamic by design will suffer more than a bulkier SUV. This was tested by The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), and efficiency loss ranged between 8% and 20% when the windows were down. Efficiency-eating drag only increases with speed.
Despite our greatest hopes, zipping down the freeway is actually detrimental to a vehicle’s efficiency. Wind resistance is not your friend if you are trying to save money on gas, and the harder your car pushes against the wind (aka the faster you drive), the harder the wind pushes back. Your engine takes the brunt of that contest, and your fuel economy takes the hit.
Using cruise control can help you save an average of 7-14% on gas because of its ability to hold a continuous speed. This is only true if the stretch of road is primarily flat and free of traffic. On roads with many sharp turns or steep inclines, using cruise control may actually be detrimental. The bottom line is that rapid acceleration and hard braking cut into a vehicle’s efficiency, reducing fuel economy by 15 to 30% at freeway speeds and 10 to 40% on stop-and-go city streets.
Even if you are not braking or accelerating dramatically, cruise control can really improve a vehicle’s fuel economy according to a study conducted by Natural Resources Canada. Their data indicate that in a comparison of a constant cruise-control speed of 50 mph and the subtle speed range of 47–53 mph applied manually, the vehicle with cruise control turned on saved 20% more gas.
Thou Shalt Not Idle Away Thy Time
If you want to save money on gas, don’t use that gas sitting in a parking lot or on the side of the road. As with everything on this list, use discretion in turning off your car just to save fuel. You should not turn off your vehicle at each red light, but be wary of holding long phone conversations while the engine idles. An idling car can consume one-quarter to one-half gallon of fuel per hour.
Take a Walk
This trick is obvious, though not always comfortable. If distance allows, take a bike or walk to appointments around town. The exercise can be beneficial, and the fuel sitting in your gas tank costs you nothing as it waits to be used.
Save Money on Gas with Layton Car Care
There are other ways to save money on gas that don’t rely so heavily on your car’s efficiency. Consider joining a membership with companies that offer gas points for purchasing their goods or open a gas rewards credit card. Premium fuel is more expensive, so you might hold off on the best until gas prices go down. While these can be helpful, they don’t negate the other benefits of making sure your vehicle is performing at maximum efficiency. For a tune-up or inspection, come see us at Layton Car Care.