Fuel Efficiency the ‘Way to Go’ This Summer Driving Season
Today’s Prices Below Historic Highs, But Still a Hardship for Many
The good news: Gas prices have dropped compared to last summer's driving season. The other good news: You can still do plenty to make the fuel in your tank last longer.
Recent public opinion polls show that many Americans find gas prices burdensome, and some experts believe that worries about jobs and the economy could keep would-be vacationers at home this summer. “So even with gas prices below their historic highs of a few years ago, it’s a good time to employ fuel-efficiency tips to save at the pump,” said Alliance to Save Energy President Kateri Callahan.
The Alliance calculated that the average U.S. household will spend $3,475 to fuel its vehicles this year. As demonstrated by the Alliance’s fuel-efficiency videos, proper vehicle maintenance and smart driving can keep more money in your pocket.
Tips for Vehicle Maintenance
Fixing a car that’s out of tune or has failed an emissions test can improve its gas mileage by an average of 4%, saving about $82 a year. Fixing a serious maintenance problem, such as a faulty oxygen sensor, can improve your mileage by as much as 40%, or more than $1,300!
Inflate Your Tires
Keeping tires properly inflated can improve mileage by up to 3.3%, or about $61 a year (under-inflated tires can lower mileage by 0.3% for every 1 psi drop in pressure in all four tires). Proper inflation also improves tire longevity – and driver and passenger safety.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) cautions not to rely on the pressure setting on the tire’s sidewall, but to consult your owner’s manual or look for a sticker on the driver’s side door jamb or in the glove box.
Get the Right Oil
Use the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil or risk lowering your gas mileage by 1-2%, wasting up to $40 annually. DOE also advises looking for the phrase “Energy Conserving” on the American Petroleum Institute performance symbol to ensure that the oil contains friction-reducing additives.
Unpack & Unload
Get the junk out of the trunk! Remove unnecessary items in your vehicle’s trunk – an extra 100 pounds could reduce your mileage by up to 2%, wasting $40 a year.
Also nix a loaded roof rack, which can improve fuel economy by 5%, or $98 per year.
Tips for Smart Driving
Keep a Steady Pace
Avoid aggressive driving. Speeding, rapid acceleration and rapid braking can lower gas mileage by at highway speeds, wasting about $980/year, and 5% around town, wasting about $98/year.
Mileage usually decreases rapidly above 60 miles per hour. DOE says each five mph over 60 is like adding as much as 31 cents per gallon to the price of gas.
Idling gets 0 miles per gallon, wasting a quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour depending on engine size and air conditioner use. Yet it takes only a few seconds’ worth of fuel to restart your engine.
Use Cruise Control & Overdrive Gear
Using cruise control on the highway helps you maintain a constant speed and, in most cases, save gas and money.
And don’t forget to engage the overdrive gear to reduce engine speed, which saves gas and reduces engine wear.
Combining errands into one trip saves not only time but money, too. Taking several short trips from a cold start each time can use twice as much fuel as one multipurpose trip covering the same distance with a warm engine.
Beat the Traffic
When possible, drive and/or commute during off-peak hours to avoid stop-and-go traffic. You’ll reduce stress as well as gas costs!
Tips for Smart Commuting
If you have a choice of vehicles, use the more fuel-efficient one whenever possible.
Consider alternatives to driving solo. Take advantage of carpools and ride-share programs to cut your weekly fuel costs by as much as half – and save wear on your car. Many urban areas allow vehicles with multiple passengers to use High Occupancy Vehicle, or HOV, lanes which are typically less congested, further improving your fuel economy. Carpooling twice a week with two others can save each of you more than $150/year.
Consider telecommuting from home, if your employer permits it. Doing that just twice a week can save you more than $450/year.
Take the Train
Look into public transit options, too. The American Public Transportation Association has links to information about public transportation in each state.
- Find additional tips and resources on DOE’s fuel economy website.
- Michael Timberlake; 202-448-8758; firstname.lastname@example.org