Daily Archives: May 25, 2008

Saving Fuel AND Your Pocketbook – Do’s and Don’ts Part II (Do’s)

Yesterday’s post exposed a number of gas saving myths that are floating around the web. Today, we’re going to give you some tips that will save you gas (if they apply to your situation). So, with out further ado, here are real gas savings tips:


  • Don’t idle!
    As much as 1/3 of all fuel consumed is through idling. If you’re picking someone up, unless they’re already at the door on the way to the car, turn the car off and use the 15-second rule. Although it does take more gas to start an engine than to idle it for a few seconds, today’s engines are much more efficient than those built when cars first started to be mass produced and mass consumed in the middle of the 20th century, and the amount of gas required to re-start an engine is roughly equal to a mere 10-seconds of idling time for an average vehicle. (Furthermore, 10 minutes of idling costs you five miles and ten minutes of idling a day adds up to 27 gallons of fuel a year.) Furthermore, don’t idle for more than 30 seconds when starting your car, even in freezing temperatures. (Today’s vehicles don’t need any longer than that.)
  • Don’t speed!
    It might be true that cars are more efficient on highways than on city roads, but that’s because they’re traveling at a constant speed and not constantly stopping and starting. Driving 10 mph faster than the speed limit can increase fuel consumption by as much as 20%! I can’t recall if it’s by design or by accident, but most vehicles hit their fuel efficiency peak somewhere between 45mph and 65mph, a range which covers the speed limit in most states and provinces. (Depending on terrain and, most importantly, wind resistance – which can really start to kick in at speeds as low as 40 mph!) Some tests show fuel savings of over 30% for moderate driving (when compared with aggressive driving).
  • Be easy on the gas and the brake!
    Not all roads are flat, and, for most of us, when we hit a hill on the highway, our natural reflex is to step on the gas – even if the hill is a small one! Furthermore, if we are constantly pushing the limit, our natural reflex is to then brake on the way down. This increases gas consumption by at least 10%. If you’re driving below (or at) the speed limit, the best thing to do is to maintain the current level of fuel flow and rpms. The slight loss in speed on the way up will be mostly made up by the slight increase in speed on the way down, and if you were under (or even at) the speed limit before you started going up, by the time you reach the bottom, you’ll still be under the limit (and have nothing to fear).
  • Don’t be afraid of overdrive!
    On long road trips where you are continually driving at highway speeds at long periods of time, put the engine into a higher gear. Used wisely, the right gear will save gas.
  • Use Cruise Control on the highway
    If you’re a lead foot by nature, or horrible at maintaining a (near) constant speed, use cruise control. Modern systems are incredibly efficient, average fuel savings at 7%, and some systems (especially when paired with lousy drivers) can increase fuel efficiency by as much as 14% on the highway.
  • Change your oil regularly
    A sludge-free engine operates more efficiently, and this reduces fuel consumption at any speed. (However, just like unnecessary air filter changes, unnecessary oil changes have no effect. So, don’t change your oil every three months just because your manual tells you to. It’s a function of time AND mileage.)
  • Don’t use your trunk or flatbed as permanent storage
    Every pound you haul is more work for your engine. Hauling a 50 lb toolbox and 30 lbs of golf equipment around when you don’t need it is equivalent to hauling a youth around all the time. With an average vehicle size of 2500 lbs plus these days, it might not sound like much, but over the course of a year, it adds up. For the really cluttered, it could increase your fuel efficiency by 5% to 10%.
  • Don’t keep your Hummer’s gas tank full in the city.
    Full tanks, like toolboxes and golf clubs, increase vehicle weight, and this is especially true in large vehicles with large tanks that hold well over 100 lbs, or more, of fuel. Although the savings will be negligible in an economy car with a 13 gallon tank, a SUV / truck with a 23 gallon tank can hold 142 lbs of gas (at 6.2 lbs / gallon).
  • Walk to the corner store and bike to your friend’s house.
    If you can walk or bike there in 15 minutes, just do it.