For some people, the car is a necessary and unavoidable expense. However, keeping a car is not precisely cheap. Besides purchase, maintenance, and insurance, a car is expensive due to the high cost of fuel. Financially savvy people already know that there are ways to diminish the costs of owning a car and that it is possible to pay for less fuel and save money. These are some easy tips to help you consume less fuel, save money, and still enjoy your car.
1. Be a patient driver.
Things such as speeding, braking, or accelerating too fast are the reasons why you waste gas. Aggressive driving is responsible for lowering gas mileage by 10% to 40% in busy traffic and 15% to 30% at highway speeds. These percentages are quite alarming for someone who wants to save money on gas. A good trick to improve your driving and your gas mileage is to use driver feedback devices. However, just paying attention to the traffic and travelling steadily at a slow speed instead of braking and accelerating is enough to save fuel.
2. Stick to the speed limit.
Not all cars reach their optimal fuel economy at the same speed, but usually gas mileage decreases quickly when you go over 50mph. An estimation suggests that for each 5 extra mph over 50 mph you pay more per each gallon of gas. Speeding is false economy because you may save some time by going 10 mph faster, but you will pay more for fuel since the car consumes more at higher speeds.
3. Avoid excessive weight on the roof.
Carrying cargo on the roof of your car increases fuel consumption because of the greater wind resistance. Even when the roof rack is empty, it still increases drag. According to studies, a cargo container on the rooftop can affect fuel economy by 10% to 25% at speeds of 65 to 75 mph, and 6% to 17% at highway speed. However, rear-mount cargo boxes are significantly less detrimental as they only reduce fuel economy by a meager 1% to 5% at highway speeds. If you want to save fuel and money, detach external cargo containers when you don’t need them.
4. Don’t keep heavy items in your vehicle.
A car needs more fuel to move around as its weight increases, just like your body. If you’re concerned with reducing your fuel consumption, make sure you avoid storing unnecessary heavy items in your vehicle. The heavier the things you keep in your car, the greater is the effect on your fuel consumption. Smaller vehicles are especially affected by extra weight.
5. Avoid rush hour.
Being stuck in a traffic jam is far from pleasant, but most people ignore that it is also expensive. Since you stop repeatedly in traffic, your car needs first gear and will consume a huge amount of fuel just to get moving again. Second gear is also detrimental to fuel economy. You should to try to avoid driving during the rush hour, but if you cannot really change your schedule, buy a hybrid car which does not need so much fuel in town as petrol or diesel. Just check the traffic reports before heading out, since the less time you waste in traffic, the less fuel you will need to reach your destination. Without exceptions, idling is a big waste of your time and your gas.
6. Limit the number of your trips.
Whenever your car stays parked for a while, the engine gets cold and then it takes a lot of fuel to warm up. To fight this, try not do separate outings whenever possible but run all your daily errands in one longer trip. If you have to stop several times, hit the farthest destination first and make your way back from there. A warm engine means better fuel economy.
7. Monitor tire pressure regularly.
Your car needs more fuel to move if the tires pressure is low. At least once a week, take a few moments to check the tires and make sure to keep them properly inflated. Low pressure tires increase rolling resistance which means your car will need more fuel to move. Read your car’s manual to check the recommended tire pressure for your car.
8. Turn off the AC.
Even those who live in colder climate may feel tempted to leave the air conditioning on the whole year round, since it can stop the windows from misting up in the winter. However, this comes at a cost because AC uses quite a lot of fuel. To increase fuel economy, turn off the AC whenever it’s not absolutely necessary. If you make sure to park always in the shade, your car will stay cool.
9. Tighten that gas cap.
Fuel can easily evaporate from your car if the gas cap is loose. While tightening the cap may seem an obvious need, not everyone is patient enough to wait until they hear it click three times. However, only then you fuel is safe.
10. Don’t leave the windows or sunroof open.
While this doesn’t mean much when driving in town, whenever you’re on the motorway or in an area where you move more quickly, your car has to fight wind resistance, also known as drag. Aerodynamics is a huge element in car design and you want your car to be as sleek as possible. Open windows or an open sunroof make wind noise as your car moves which means that they demand your car to put out a bigger force and thus consume more fuel. Whenever your windows are open, your car becomes more expensive to run.
11. Know where you’re going.
Taking many wrong turns and having to move around unnecessarily to find the right direction is not fun, especially since it is a useless consumption of fuel. Either use your GPS whenever you’re unsure about the route or stop a moment to ask for directions. Knowing your routes beforehand gives you the option to choose the shortest way and thus save some fuel by driving less.
12. Forget about tailgating or lane hopping.
Most drivers tailgate compulsively, not realizing that whenever they travel too close to the vehicle in front of them, they may be forced to brake frequently and this way, they consume more fuel. Getting ahead of other cars is not cost-effective so forget also about lane hopping. Whenever you change the lane, you have to push the accelerator and brake more often and it ruins your fuel economy.