When gas prices spike, people panic. We've heard that fuel for vehicles is likely to become a much pricier commodity in future years. However, there are some pretty good ways that drivers can
"engineer" their commutes and other necessary trips in order to improve gas mileage and save money. Some of them are obvious, others less so. Here are some of the biggest gas savers that some drivers may not know about.
- Cut Down on the Stop and Go. With new fuel-economy monitoring features, drivers see first-hand that all of those quick accelerations, such as battling through red and green lights or hitting on-ramps aggressively, can burn a lot of fuel. One way to manage this is to look at all of the possible routes to a destination, evaluating traffic signals, stop signs, and other factors. The shortest path isn't always the most fuel-efficient, and by avoiding situations like block-to-block stop and go, or big traffic snarls, an individual driver can save gallons per month.
- Roll down the window. Another relevant tip, especially in summer weather, is to also evaluate when it's more fuel-efficient to turn on the air conditioning, and when it's better to just roll down the windows. Detailed studies have shown that the fuel efficiency of A/C is tightly tied to vehicle speed. It's actually more efficient to drive with the windows down when traveling at slower speeds because there is less aerodynamic drag than when driving at faster speeds.
- Inflate Tires to Proper PSI. Inflating tires to manufacturer specs can save on gas and even prevent some types of accidents. The U.S. Department of Energy's Fueleconomy.gov site indicates proper PSI can save drivers up to 3.3% on gas costs.
- Maintain Computerized Exhaust Systems. Modern vehicles have advanced systems composed of catalytic converters, oxygen sensors, and other parts that closely monitor a vehicle's fuel mix in fuel injection systems. It's important to make sure that these systems are in good working order. An exhaust system in sub-par condition can cause wasted gas; a faulty oxygen sensor can reduce MPG by up to 40%. Many of these problems will flag the vehicle's check engine light, and some states already require annual emissions inspections that will catch glitches. When you ensure your fuel system is working well you can also reap the benefits of better gas mileage.
- Shop Loyal. In the past, some drivers spent time and money looking around for the cheapest gas stations. Now, many of them no longer have to. Customer loyalty programs at supermarkets and big box chains can save money at the pump, just by leveraging their routine grocery purchases.
All of these overall fuel efficiency strategies can help combat the costs for a driver or family, to save on one of the average household's biggest routine expenses.
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