Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Get more mileage from your gas

Drive a fuel efficient vehicle – A while back, we discussed hybrid and electric cars. If you're in the market for one, go ahead and feel smug, but if not, there's still plenty of gas to be saved by driving a compact car during your daily commute instead of an SUV.

Check your tires – underinflated tires actually use 25% more gas. That doesn't mean you should overinflate either though, because that comes at its own cost: wearing your tires out more quickly. Get a gauge and check your tire pressure to make sure you're at the right pressure level. How do you know what the right tire pressure is? Especially when your car door says one thing and your tires say another? Rule of thumb is: go by what the car door says.

Lighten up – That massive shopping you did at Costco the other day? Don't delay in unloading it! Bring in those club packs of canned beans and those industrial sized bags of rice and sugar. Why should they get a free ride?

Cool! - Here's a “cool” (pun intended) fact: fuel is densest at the coolest time of day. So if you fill up when it's cooler outside, you'll actually be packing more fuel into your tank than if you fill up at high noon.

Put a lid on it – check your cap to make sure it's tightened properly. It's very common for people to lose gas in vapours that escape through caps that aren't properly tightened. If you haven't heard it click yet, keep turning.

Drive the limit – limits aren't just safe; they're economical too! Driving over 100 km an hour can actually reduce your fuel efficiency by as much as 33%. In fact, every 8 km over the limit that you drive is like paying an extra $0.08 per litre of gas.

Use cruise control – For long distance driving, when you are in charge of acceleration, you are going to fluctuate. This is because you are not a machine. If you let your cruise control do the accelerating and decelerating for you, you know it will be using only exactly the amount of gas it needs to precisely maintain the limit.

Stop and start gradually – driving at high speeds in spite of impending stops, only to screech to a halt is actually a pretty good way to waste gas. So is flooring the pedal as soon as it's your turn to go. By taking the starts and stops gradually, you waste less gas on unnecessary acceleration.

Maintain your vehicle well – An engine that is properly tuned can actually save 4% in gas costs. That's substantial! It's worth visiting a mechanic for this one. As with most efficiency related strategies, there may be a cost upfront (taking your vehicle to the auto shop) but there will be continuous payoff thereafter. Don't forget the spark plugs either—if they're not in shape, you could be losing as much as 12% in your mileage. Another gas waster is a dirty air filter. An air filter that needs changing can reduce your mileage by 20%. 

Don't sweat it – contrary to popular belief, driving with the air conditioner on doesn't actually waste much gas at all, so if that comfort will help you drive more smartly, you can turn it on without feeling guilty about it.

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