Think of how much an improved mileage will save you for retirement: over 35 years, $600/year savings amounts to $21,000! (assuming no extra cost in car purchase, a 20% increase in mileage for a car with 21 mpg, with an average cost of $3.00 per gallon, and doing 20,000 miles/year)
Plus compound interests at an average of 4.5%/year that would make you close to $50,000 after 35 years!!
The Fuel Saving Tips
1. Driving Habits
Maybe one of the most important tips for gas saving: anticipate decelerations (incl. keeping distance from cars in front of you). Anticipate traffic light changes as well…
Don’t idle your car engine to warm up (or if it’s hard to get you out of your old habits, try to keep it to 20-30 seconds), it warms up best and most safely by driving immediately but without accelerating rapidly. For colder areas: use a block heater with timer, cold engines can use up to 50% more fuel for short trips.
Use cruise control as much as possible (except in hill areas) (But don’t overdo it either. Modern motors can handle better driving at lower rpm’s).
Change to a higher gear as soon as possible (& use overdrive gear when possible).
Turn engine off if not driving more than one minute.
Same if you still need to fasten seatbelts of your kids or (un)load your car, wait starting the engine till you’re ready: a couple of minutes a day turn into +10 hours of idle gas burning a year!
Keep a fuel consumption log to compare your mileage.
Have a real time mileage calculator installed
3. Car Cooling
Avoid use of AC or try to drive at cooler times.
AC vs. open windows? A good general rule might be (but depends on car type) open your windows in the city (it will also avoid your system ‘sucking’ in the exhaust gases from the car in front of you), use your AC at highways speeds starting around 50 mph or open just a little your windows.
Sunroofs can create a lot of drag depending on the model.
Park your car in shady or covered areas. You will need less AC and there will be less evaporation of gas.
If do use AC, try to put temp a bit higher, switching from very cold to warm outside will cost you your health as well.
Use a solar car cooling device while parked.
Set yourself a target each year and try to reduce 10% compared to previous year…. (well, if you can reduce 100% the first year…)
Don’t leave at the last minute, leave 5 minutes earlier and enjoy a safer and more pleasant ride with less swearing…
If you need to make a trip to a special store in some faraway place, maybe you can order it via internet/catalog?
Part of your planning: driving and filling up during cooler hours of the day (see Car Cooling and Fuel tips)
Plan to combine various trips into one, this is maybe one of the biggest gas saver?!
Avoid if possible busy hours, you’ll help decongest and will have a much better mileage as well.
Try to combine all your business places as much as possible in one location or nearby locations.
Keep tires inflated at recommended level (Research indicates that 50% of tires on the road are under inflated! They will also live longer and your driving will be safer.) Try to check your tire pressure monthly. Tire awareness campaign in Canada: BeTireSmart Just one under inflated tire can decrease your mpg by 3% and reduce your tire life by 6.000 miles!
Get your own accurate (digital) pressure gauge. They are cheap and more reliable than the ones from gas stations and are always available.
Especially influencing: rapid temperature changes can make your tire pressure drop.
Use low rolling resistance tires. They can increase your mileage by about 5%!
Get your snow tires off as soon as possible when not really needed anymore, they are mpg wasters!
6. Car Mechanics
Overall badly serviced cars can increase fuel use by 50%…
Keep car maintained and use recommended oil.
Especially faulty oxygen sensors, repairing these can improve your mileage by up to 40%!
7. Driving Education
Canada only: If you are learning how to drive: Choose a school with the Auto$mart Driver Education Kit in the program. Map of schools
Again in Canada: FleetSmart and SmartDriving training: FleetSmart
8. Car Loads
When loading heavily, try, if possible, to balance the weight more to the front to avoid lifting of the nose and increased air drag
Avoid the use of roof racks, try to load the stuff in the car and if racks are not used take them off, they can create 5-10% fuel increase.
Don’t carry around useless stuff in your trunk, all those extra pounds will reduce somehow your mpg. (Maybe a new incentive to loose some weight as well? Now, do leave the back seats in the car…)
Loose, missing or damaged gas caps (apparently 15%!) create millions of evaporated gallons of gas every year!
Lighter colors, both in and outside will reduce cooling needs! If you are not getting a new car but have a dark interior, how about adding washable light colored seat covers…?
Buying a new car: think that you can use a “roof rack box” for holidays or any use where the interior space would be too small and would compel you to buy a larger model. A roof box will decrease your mpg but will allow the purchase of a smaller car with better mpg that can be used all year long.