Sneaky Ways To Get Better Gas Mileage
Forbes - Jacqueline Mitchell
Motorists looking to save on a litre of gas needn't drive across province lines in search of cheaper prices at the pump.
The answer is right under the hood. That's because more frequent air filter changes can improve your vehicle's gas mileage by as much as 10%, the Car Care Council says. The filter keeps dirty particles from damaging the inside of your engine and helps it run more efficiently. The council, a consumer advocacy group that promotes vehicle maintenance, recommends checking the filter each time you change the oil every 3,000 miles (nearly 5,000 kilometres).
Other fuel-saving measures include keeping tires properly inflated, reducing your load and avoiding long idles.
These adjustments have never been more important. Last week, the nationwide average price for regular gas pushed toward $1.30 a litre, and prices are expected to rise, some say, to as much as $2.50 by summer.
"You can't control the price of gas, but you can control how much gas you burn by proper maintenance and how you drive," says Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council. "Performing simple and inexpensive maintenance can save as much as $1,200 a year."
Top 10 Tips
We compiled 10 key fuel-saving tips and estimated fuel savings from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Car Care Council and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
But before motorists start calculating potential savings, all of the agencies we contacted cautioned that gas mileages are only estimates. The number of kilometres that you see per litre of gas will vary depending on such factors as the rate of speed driven and the amount of city driving versus highway driving. The latter requires fewer stops and starts.
One immediate step a driver can take is observing the speed limit. Aggressive drivers can save per litre if they ease up on the gas and brakes, according to the Car Care Council. You can also save by observing the speed limit and using cruise control during highway driving.
Using the manufacturer's recommended levels of octane gas and grade of oil also makes a difference. Luxury and high-performance cars usually require premium gas, which has a higher level of octane to prevent engine knocking or rattling in some vehicles. But regular gas is recommended for most vehicles; using a higher-octane fuel on these cars will provide little benefit, if any. However, using a higher grade of motor oil will cut into your fuel economy, according to the EPA, which publishes fuel-saving tips at http://www.fueleconomy.gov/, a consumer information Web site jointly maintained by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and the EPA.
Watching your weight also fattens your wallet. Piling a lot of heavy items on the roof rack can create additional cargo space, particularly in small cars, but it will also decrease fuel economy by 5%, according to the EPA.
What's more, car owners should beware of businesses advertising gas-saving products that promise to improve fuel economy, some by as much as 20%. These include fuel additives that claim to improve fuel economy and ignition devices that attach to an existing ignition system or replace part of the original system. The FTC and EPA warn that such claims are false.
Bottom line: If a new car isn't in your immediate future, don't sweat. By making a few lifestyle changes, you can get some relief at the gas pump.
1 Drive Sensibly
Estimated Savings: 7 to 49 cents per gallon
Speeding, rapid acceleration and constant braking are all symptoms of aggressive driving that waste gas. Pay attention to the traffic flow to maintain a more constant speed. You can lower gas mileage by as much as 22% on the highway and 5% on city streets by driving sensibly.
2 Replace Dirty Air Filter
Estimated Savings: 15 to 32 cents per gallon
Replacing a clogged air filter can improve your vehicle's gas mileage by as much as 10%. The air filter keeps dirty particles from damaging the inside of your engine. A clean air filter serves a dual purpose: It saves gas and protects your engine.
3 Bypass High-Octane Gas
Estimated Savings: 15 to 35 cents per gallon
Regular octane fuel is recommended for most cars. Buying a high-octane gasoline most likely won't improve your car's performance but will add to your fuel cost.
4 Maintain The Speed Limit
Estimated Savings: 10 cents per gallon
Gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. Observing the speed limit and using cruise control during highway driving will conserve gas
5 Avoid Long Idles
Estimated Savings: Additional miles per gallon
Allowing your vehicle to run idle for longer than a minute is equivalent to throwing money out of the window. You are burning gas but getting zero miles per gallon. Shut off the car; it takes less gas to restart it than what is being used while sitting still.
6 Check Gas Cap
Estimated Waste: Gallons of gas each year
Gas caps that are damaged, loose or missing can cause gallons of gas to vaporize, thus sending you to the pump sooner than necessary.
7 Get a Plan
Estimated Waste: Gallons of gas each year
Trips to the grocery store, dry cleaners and shopping centers should be planned so you are not wasting time retracing your route. If you have multiple vehicles, drive the one that has the better mileage. Make a list of what you need so you don't forget something and have to make a return trip.
8 Use the Recommended Oil
Estimated Savings: 3 to 6 cents a gallon
You can improve your gas mileage by up to 2% when using the grade of oil recommended by the manufacturer.
9 Keep Tires Properly Inflated
Estimated Savings: Up to 10 cents per gallon
When tires aren't inflated properly, it's like driving with the parking brake on, and that can cost a mile or two per gallon. You can improve your gas mileage by around 3.3% by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure.
10 Drop the Weight
Estimated Savings: 3 to 6 cents per gallon
Avoid keeping unnecessary, heavy items in your vehicle. An extra 100 pounds could reduce your miles per gallon by up to 2%, based on the percentage of extra weight relative to the vehicle's total weight, which affects smaller cars more than larger ones. http://www.forbes.com/2008/04/22/cars-mpg-gas-forbeslife-cx_jm_0422cars.html
Karen Guy, REALTOR®
I am the GUY that will make a difference!
Coldwell Banker Horizon Realty C 250.878.3605 O 250.768.8001