With road trip season upon us, prices at the gas pump are heading in the wrong direction in Southwestern PA. But don’t let this keep you from enjoying the wind in your hair and sun on your face this time of year—here are some basic tips to help squeeze the most miles from your fuel dollars.
Avoid High Speeds. As your speed increases, so does your aerodynamic drag. Some experts say driving 62 mph versus 75 mph can reduce fuel consumption by about 15%!
Do Not Accelerate or Brake Hard. By anticipating the traffic and applying slow steady acceleration and braking, fuel economy may increase by as much as 20%.
Keep Tires Properly Inflated. Ensure your tires maintain a pressure level recommended by your vehicle manufacturer. A single tire under-inflated by 2 PSI can increase fuel consumption by 1%. This may not sound like a lot, but depending how many miles you drive, it could make all the difference.
Use A/C Sparingly. This may be more difficult during peak summer months, but try turning your air conditioner down. It causes your engine to work harder, which in turn uses more fuel—sometimes by about 20%. Side note: The defrost position on most vehicles also uses the air conditioner.
Close Your Windows. Windows open—especially at highway speeds—can increase drag and result in decreased fuel economy of up to 10% in some cases.
Service Vehicle Regularly. Proper maintenance avoids poor fuel economy related to dirty air filters, old spark plugs, or low fluid levels. Keeping your car in top shape will save you in the long run.
Use Cruise Control. Maintaining a constant speed over long distances often saves gas, as the engine doesn’t have to work as hard.
Avoid Heavy Loads. Remove the sand bags from your trunk in the spring and pack lightly for long trips.
Avoid Long Idles. If you anticipate being stopped for more than 1 minute, shut off the car. Restarting the car uses less fuel than letting it idle for this time.
Purchase a Fuel Efficient Vehicle. When buying a new vehicle examine the vehicle’s rated fuel efficiency. Usually choosing a small vehicle, such as the Mitsubishi Mirage, Mitsubishi Lancer, Kia Forte, Kia Optima or Kia Optima Hybrid, Kia Rio, Kia Soul, and Dodge Dart, with a manual transmission will provide you with better fuel economy than larger models.