10 Tips to Spend Less on Gas
Save fuel, keep our air cleaner and leave more money in your wallet
With the cost of regular gasoline hovering above a dollar a liter, wasting this precious commodity is an expensive proposition that is placing a needless burden on the environment. With this in mind, here are fuel-saving tips that will help keep the air cleaner and more of your hard earned cash in your wallet.
It sounds so obvious, but it is a golden rule that is all but ignored. Jackrabbit starts and the hard braking that ensues only reduces travel time by about four per cent (that’s just 21.2 minutes over a 7 hour trip). However, fuel consumption increases by 37%. Like-wise, obeying the speed limits pays big dividends. On the highway, every eight-kilometers-an-hour increase in speed over the 100-km/h limit ups fuel consumption by an average of 7%, which means that bumping your cruising speed to 120 km/h from 100 km/h increases fuel consumption by about 20%.
AVOID EXCESSIVE IDLING
The following is from Natural Resources Canada’s Idle-Free Zone website: If every driver of a light-duty-vehicle in Canada cut his or her idling time by just two minutes a day a simple task given the needless idling that goes on in a drive-through lineup fuel consumption in this great country would be reduced by 305,277,717 liters per year. It would also cut greenhouse gas emissions by 741,932 tonnes annually. So, what would you do with your share of the $305-million-plus in annual savings?
PLAN YOUR TRIPS
A little forethought makes a massive difference. When your engine is cold, it uses far more fuel than when it’s fully warmed up. Instead of making two or three short trips, make one longer trip. Several excursions, each started with a cold engine, consumes twice as much fuel as a single trip with a warm engine covering the same distance.
Using cruise control is an effective method for reducing fuel consumption. It can save up to 14% on a long trip. It also helps reduce driver fatigue. Studies suggest fatigue accounts for between 25 and 33% of all serious crashes, which makes it a bigger problem than drunk driving.
MAINTAIN TIRE PRESSURE
From the height of summer to the dead of winter, a tire can lose a much as 10 psi. This and the fact most tires invariably lose about one psi per month means that thousands of these black doughnuts are driven in an under-inflated condition. A tire that’s under-inflated by just 2 psi increases fuel consumption by 1%. Try pushing a car with a flat tire if you doubt the extra work and energy under-inflation entails. Under-inflation also affects a tire’s life expectancy a tire that’s under-inflated by 1% drops it usable life by 1%. Over the life of a vehicle, these seemingly small figures add up. If all four tires are under-inflated by just 4 psi (visually, you cannot see the difference), fuel consumption increases by 8%, while the life expectancy of the tires drops by more than 10%.
OIL AND AIR
This covers everything from using the correct oil to checking the air filter. Would you run a marathon wearing a snorkel? Not likely. Asking an engine to work efficiently while drawing its air in through a clogged filter is the same thing. If airflow into the engine is restricted, it can slash overall performance by up to 11%.
Mass is one of the largest factors affecting fuel consumption. Many people carry needless junk in the trunk. Chuck It!
KEEP IT CLEAN
We’ve all experienced the sensation a car seems to perform better and run smoother after a good wash and wax. Well, there might be some truth to this old myth after all. A recent study found on a Colorado state government website showed that keeping a car clean by washing and waxing it regularly reduces fuel consumption by up to 7%. It boils down to aerodynamics.
MOVE YOUR FOOT
Believe it or not, some drivers use the brake pedal as a footrest. This not only increases drag on the car, which increases fuel consumption, it needlessly wears the brakes and can be a dangerous practice. Heat buildup in the brakes will cause brake fade. If this happens, stopping distances become considerably longer. Likewise, the risk of being rear-ended rises as the brake lights are always on, there is no true indication of when the driver is actually applying the brakes.
Everyone has seen those commercials that promise to reduce your vehicle’s fuel consumption by some staggering amount just by installing whatever fuel-saving gadget is being flogged. There is not one such device that has proven to have any effect on fuel consumption, never mind yield the savings claimed in the commercial. So, don’t waste your money. If there really was something that could be added to the fuel line or air intake that actually lowered fuel consumption, even by as little as two or three per cent, don’t you think the vehicle manufacturers would install it at the factory?