When you were learning to drive, were you taught anything about ways to save gas? Probably not. Yet transportation contributes 14% to total global greenhouse gas emissions. Fumes and air pollutants coming out of vehicle tail pipes are one of the biggest sources of smog and dirty air, too. I’d love to see driver’s ed programs include information on driving efficiently and cleanly for new drivers. Until then, we’ve teamed up with DrivingOffice.com, which helps new drivers in my home state of Michigan pass their driver’s test by taking the Michigan permit practice test. Here are 10 ways to save gas this summer you need to know, whether you’re new to the wheel or have a lot of miles under your tires.
1-Follow the 10-second rule before you idle your car.
It’s easy to think you’re only stopping for a short time when you idle in park, and not worth turning the engine off.
The truth is that, any time the engine is on and you’re not moving, you’re wasting gas and money.
In fact, idling a car for as little as ten seconds actually uses more fuel than turning off the engine and restarting it. If you spend five minutes idling, you’ll waste a perfectly good gallon of gas!
When Should You Turn Off Your Car?
⇒Turn the car off when you’re stuck at a railroad crossing, or waiting to pick someone up at school or their house, and skip the drive-throughs when the lines are long.
⇒Turn off your car when you’re waiting for a pick-up if it’s going to take longer than 10 seconds to get your goods.
⇒Never idle at a school, especially when you’re waiting to pick up little kids. You’ll just be filling the air with toxic fumes they shouldn’t have to breathe.
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2-Drive at a constant speed.
The more you accelerate quickly and brake suddenly, the more fuel you use.
How should you start and stop?
⇒Don’t be a “jack rabbit.” Ease up to a stop sign or stop light then ease away at a moderate speed.
3-Drive the speed limit.
Obviously, you want to drive the speed limit to avoid getting a ticket.
Driving the speed limit will keep you alive, too, since speeding leads to so many accidents.
But driving faster than 65mph gobbles up gas, too. In fact, driving at a speed of 85 mph uses 40% more fuel than if you drove at 70 mph.
How fast should you drive?
⇒Stick to the posted speed limit.
⇒Drive 65 on the highway to use a lot less fuel.
4-Keep your car tires properly pumped up.
Not having enough air in your car tires can reduce the number of miles you get per gallon of gasoline by 3%. That may not sound like a lot, but it could amount to as much oil as is in the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Instead of destroy that wilderness, we can all simply keep our tires pumped up to the proper psi, or pounds per square inch.
When should you pump up your tires?
⇒ A good rule of thumb is to check the tire pressure every time the seasons change, so maybe four times a year. If you don’t know the psi, it’s easily found on a little sticker right inside the door jamb of the front driver’s-side door.
Keep a tire pressure gauge in the glove compartment of the car so it’s easy to check the tire pressure.
5-Change the oil regularly and get an annual tune up.
Maintaining your vehicle is important for lots of reasons. Cars tend to have a longer life if they are well maintained. They also run more efficiently, which means you do not have to buy as much fuel.
How often should you get an oil change?
⇒Read your vehicle manual, but most manufacturers recommend an oil change every 3,000 – 5,000 miles. You can find lots of coupons online for discounts that will bring oil change costs down to only around $20 bucks a pop.
⇒Tune ups are recommended annually.
6-Use air conditioning instead of opening windows.
You may think that opening the windows in your car, instead of using air conditioning, is a good idea. But it turns out that the opposite is true. Open windows increase the amount of drag, which means that open windows in a fast-moving car actually slow the car down, so you end up using more gas than you would if the air conditioning was switched on.
When to use AC?
⇒Use the AC when you’re traveling at speeds above 40 mph on the highway. You can use the lowest fan setting and keep cool air circulating to make it comfortable.
⇒Roll the windows down when you’re just driving around town at lower speeds.
⇒Use a windshield shade to reflect sunlight away from your car and keep internal temperatures cooler.
7-Carpool and share the gas – and the cost.
Carpools are a great idea. Not only do you save on the cost of gas, because you use your vehicle less frequently; you also get to chat with a group of friends during the journey.
8-Combine trips and use apps to shorten distances traveled.
If you do not plan your week effectively, you can end up driving a greater distance than required. If you need to go to the doctor and the mall, and they are both in the same direction, go to both on the same journey where possible. As a result, you drive a shorter distance and you save on the cost of extra fuel.
What apps are the best for creating gas-saving travel routs?
⇒Waze is popular, but Google Maps is great, too!
9-Park where you are
How many times have you driven around for a while, looking for a parking space that is closer to your destination? If you are able, it’s a much better idea to park in the first spot you can, and simply walk a little further. You end up saving money and time.
What apps make parking quick and easy?
10-Put your car on a diet.
Many people keep too much stuff in their car. Extra weight makes the vehicle heavier, increasing fuel consumption.
⇒De-clutter your vehicle and save money on gas. If you’re not going to use it, don’t keep it in the trunk or on the roof rack.
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