Gas prices have been pretty good lately, but we all know that won’t last. Can driving differently and changing a few habits really save gas money? How about the environment? MoneyTalks found out that changing a few driving habits could save up to 37% on fuel, as well as benefit the environment.
Park, Walk, Don’t Idle
Drive-throughs waste gas, so avoid them when picking up a quick bite to eat. Park and go inside. When shopping, don’t circle around the parking lot looking for the “best spot.” Park quickly and walk to your destination.
Fuel-efficiency guides recommend turning the engine off if you will be stopped for more than 30 seconds. Many people believe that it takes more gas to start the car again than to keep it idling. After 30 seconds, this is no longer the case. General Electric has even applied for a patent for “smart” traffic lights that will shut cars off and restart them at long traffic lights.
Find Your Car’s Most Efficient Speed
Discover the speed at which your car is most efficient. The majority of cars are most efficient at 50 or 55 mph. No matter what, fuel efficiency drops off quickly after 60 mph, according to Eartheasy. You can improve gas mileage by 10 to 15% just by driving 55 instead of 65 on the highway.
Service and Maintenance
Change your oil and filters when your service manual recommends it, and use the proper viscosity of oil. High viscosity oil has greater resistance for engine parts, and uses more gas. Also change your air filters regularly: a dirty air filter could use up to 10% more gas. Tune-ups make a difference, too. A poorly-tuned engine could use up to 50% more fuel than a properly maintained one.
If you do change your own oil, and in the past, we’ve recommended that you could save time and money by getting an oil change at a local shop using a coupon, be sure to dispose of the oil safely. Used oil from a single oil change dumped into a storm drain could end up ruining a million gallons of fresh water.
Easy fixes include making sure your gas cap is tight after you fill up your car. According to the Car Care Council, almost 150 million gallons of gas evaporate every year because of loose, missing or damaged gas caps. Another easy fix is removing excess weight from the car, like golf clubs, bike racks that are seldom used, and other items in the trunk. An extra 100 pounds of dead weight could add up to 2% to your fuel costs.
Make a commitment to driving less, like walking or biking to some nearby destinations where you typically drive. Avoid “jack-rabbit” starts and sudden stops, and — it should go without saying — aggressive driving and speeding.