Saving money is an easy task when you have the motivation to do so. Less spending leaves more money for saving for “a rainy day” and for fun expenses such as vacations, the newest electronic gadget, or a fancy dinner at the newest restaurant. Savvy people are tightening up their expenditures by cancelling cable services, eating at home more often, and finding creative ways to save money here and there.
One of the best ways to save money is to conserve fuel to get the most out of your fuel tank. While many people have purchased fuel efficient hybrid and electric vehicles to help them save at the pump, it’s not an option for everyone. Plus, while a driver of an electric vehicle may save money by avoiding fuel stations all together, the savings on fuel may not offset the purchase price, depending on length of ownership.
Don’t fret if you don’t have a hybrid or electric vehicle. By making a few minor adjustments you can help increase your vehicle’s MPGs to benefit your wallet. Follow our tips on how to maximize your vehicle’s fuel efficiency and stretch out your trips to the pump.
5 Ways to Maximize Fuel Efficiency
When you’re shopping for a new vehicle, the manufacturer lists the best possible Miles Per Gallon for city and highway driving that the vehicle is capable of achieving. However, after a few years of driving that vehicle and as the miles add up, driving practices and disregarded maintenance services cause that number to decrease and consume more fuel to operate.
- Maintain Your Tires – Visually inspect the quality of your tires for bulges, cracks, and poor tread wear for safety’s sake. Check the tire pressure to ensure tires are properly inflated, as well. Tires that have low pressure increase the rolling resistance on the ground. For every five pounds of PSI that the tires are low, you lose about 2% of your gas mileage. Tires gradually lose air due to permeation, especially in colder temperatures and over time, the loss adds up! Check the air in your tires weekly or every time you stop for fuel. Adjust the pressure as needed to the specifications set by the manufacturer.
- Fill Up Early In the Day – Fueling stations store fuel tanks far underground. In the morning hours temperatures are at their lowest and fuel is denser. As the temperature rises throughout the day, the molecules in fuel begin to expand. This means the volume in one gallon of gas is not equal to a full gallon at warmer temperatures. The price you pay in the afternoon may be the same as if you had filled up in the morning, yet you’re not getting as much fuel for your money.
- Lighten the Load – Don’t use your vehicle as a personal storage unit, closet, or a garbage pit. Cars these days are designed with almost as much storage as big as a master closet in a house. Still, don’t feel like you need to fill up the area with the golf clubs you’ve used once in the last five years, the box of books that still need to be donated, or even the roof rack that has never hauled mountain bikes to the nearest trail. Why? The more load your vehicle must bear, the more strain is placed on the engine. When the engine needs to work harder, it demands more fuel, which reduces your fuel efficiency.
- Start Up and Go – Unlike the family car you grew up with, most cars today do not require a warm up before moving. In fact, your car needs just 30 seconds to get oil and coolant moving through your vehicle to lubricate vital components. Also, avoid unnecessary idling when possible. If you want to wait in the car while your friend runs into the coffee shop “really quick”, roll the windows down and cut the engine. For every hour that the engine runs, it can expend up to one gallon of fuel as well as release harmful pollutants into the air.
- Replace Air Filters Regularly – Air is part of the equation in the combustion process and needs to be pulled in to mix with fuel. However, an air filter clogged with dust, dirt, and other debris does not allow a sufficient amount of air to pass through which makes the engine work harder and use more fuel. By replacing engine air filters and cabin air filters regularly, you can increase fuel efficiency by as much as 15%.
If you’re thinking of purchasing a new vehicle, research your options and compare fuel efficiency ratings. Vehicles with smaller engines and less weight will get far better gas mileage than a heavy duty pickup truck. Here are some ways that may save gas mileage as you drive as well:
- Slow down and drive posted speed limits.
- Coast when approaching stop lights.
- Avoid starting and turning off your engine multiple times.
- Use cruise control on highways.
- Reduce drag by keeping windows and sunroofs closed when traveling at higher speeds.