Gas guzzler: Maximizing your car’s fuel economy as gas prices soar to record levels
Gas prices are reaching historic levels, inching closer to the all-time record high price at $4.11 set in July 2008.
While we have to dig deeper into our pockets to fill up our gas tanks, there are some things you can do to try and maximize your car’s fuel economy as much as possible.
The American Automobile Association says the easiest and most effective way to improve the fuel economy of your car is to modify and change driving habits.
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Many of us start up our cars during cold weather to let them warm up before driving off, but AAA advises against that. To save fuel, start your car and let it run for about a minute and then hit the road. Your car will warm up faster, thus saving your money rather than letting your car idle and waste fuel.
Also, try and avoid rapid acceleration and hard braking. Those habits can lower your car’s fuel economy by as much as 30% at highway speeds and as much as 40% in stop-and-go traffic.
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Keep an eye on the speed limit, according to AAA. The fuel economy on most cars peaks at around 50 mph, then drops as your speed increases. Decreasing your highway speed by 5-10 mph can increase your fuel economy by 7-14%.
It’s also recommended to use your car’s cruise control to keep speed fluctuations to a minimum. However, make sure you’re aware of road and weather conditions. Slick roads could cause you to lose control of your car if you’re using cruise control in poor driving conditions.
Did you know your car wastes a half gallon of gas per hour while idling? AAA advises drivers to avoid idling. Instead, if you’re expected to be stopped for more than a minute, shut off the car if it’s safe to do so.
It would help if you also considered planning out your trips to combine errands and find a practical route to avoid excessive driving.
Keeping up with your car’s maintenance could also significantly impact its fuel economy.
AAA suggests removing unnecessary items from your car, as an extra 100 pounds of weight can reduce fuel economy by up to 1%.
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Using the proper oil can also help increase your car’s fuel economy, as does using the right kind of gas. Check your car’s manual to see which type works best.
Proper tire inflation is also a good way to maximize your car’s fuel economy. Check the inflation at least once a month, as poorly inflated tires can lead to using more fuel.
Avoiding rooftop luggage carriers can be beneficial, too. Items placed on the roof of your car will significantly increase drag, which will reduce your car’s fuel economy.
Parking in the shade during warm months will help, too. A hot car will cause drivers to use the air conditioner more, which wastes gas. Roll the windows down and keep the air conditioning off to save fuel.