In keeping with our focus on finding ways to reduce fuel costs, here are my list of top 6 gas savings tips for the summer:
- CHECK TIRE PRESSURE: Make sure your tires have the right amount of air in them. Check them at least once a month. You can improve your gas mileage by 0.6% on average—up to 3% in some cases—by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by about 0.2% for every 1 psi drop in the average pressure of all tires. Properly inflated tires are safer and last longer. To put this into perspective, surveys show that nearly 60% of vehicles on the road have tires that are underinflated by at least 30%. That’s at least 9 psi below the manufacturer’s recommended pressure. That can cost you almost 7% in wasted fuel (Or roughly $245 per year, or 6.34 cents per liter). Plus, low air pressure causes premature tire wear, and that can cost almost $300 over the life of the tires. For best results, check your tire’s air pressure with a digital pressure gauge (about $10 at any auto parts store) and fill to the recommended pressure shown on the decal inside the driver’s door or on the driver’s door pillar.
- REPLACE SPARK PLUGS EARLY: Vehicle manufacturers make much of the fact that their products come equipped with extended-life spark plugs that can maintain a precise gap for 150,000 km. That being said, if you’re 150,000-km spark plugs have 100,000 km on them, they’re 66% worn. Misfires and incomplete combustion occur more frequently during that last 30,000 km, costing you almost $562.50 in wasted fuel. You have to replace your spark plugs anyway, so do it early and pocket the savings. Even if you have to replace the plugs one extra time over the life of your car, you’ll still come out way ahead. So don’t automatically assume your manufacturers plugs are good for 150,000 km, although many state they are. Many four-cylinder engines require new spark plugs at either 50,000 or 100,000-km intervals. On average, standard copper plugs are said to last anywhere from 16,000 to 32,000 km, while more expensive iridium or platinum spark plugs can last 95,000 km or sometimes more.
- MEASURE YOUR TIRE TREAD DEPTH: An easy way to make sure your car is in alignment is to check tires for wear.If your tires are bowed out of alignment by just .017 in., it’s the equivalent of dragging your tire sideways for 102 miles for every 20,000 you drive. That’ll cost you $187.50 a year in wasted gas. It will wear your tires faster, costing you $70 more a year. Here’s an easy way to check your alignment without taking your car in to the shop. Buy a tread depth gauge ($2) and measure the tread depth on both edges of each tire (rear tires too). If one side of the tire is worn more than the other, your car needs to be aligned. An alignment costs about $80, so you’ll still save $177.50 the first year alone.
- SPEEDING: Don’t speed. Generally speaking gas mileage normally peaks at a speed of 65 to 80 km/hour while using your cars top gear.
Keep your speed on average between 50 to 80 km/h whenever possible and is possible avoid driving faster than 80 km/h because every 10 to 15 km over 80 km/hour can results in a fuel loss of 10% or more. More simply put, from 80 to 95 km/hour fuel economy drops by 12%, from 95 to 115 km/hour it drops by 25%, and from 115 to 130 km/hour it falls by 36%.
- AIR CONDITIONING WHILE DRIVING: When driving at speeds of more than 80 km/hour with the windows down, there’s a decrease in fuel efficiency of 20% or more because of the aerodynamic drag the open windows create. Although using the air conditioner decreases fuel efficiency as well, cooling the air through the compressor only decreases the fuel efficiency by about 10%. So, if you’re driving under 80 km/h or so, using your windows is better.
- IDLING: Avoid idling for more than a minute. During start-up, your engine burns a little extra gasoline. However, letting your engine idle for more than a minute burns more fuel than turning off the engine and restarting it. You can make it easy on yourself by purchasing a vehicle with “stop-start” technology that will automatically shut off the engine and restart it when you take your foot off the brake pedal. This technology, once only found on hybrid vehicles, is beginning to enter the marketplace on conventional gas-powered cars and can cut fuel consumption by around 5%. In general idling can consume nearly 2 liters of gas per hour, so you’re 10 minute idle could end up costing you 40 cents, not to mention it’s harmful for the environment. Stop idling for 20-30 minutes a day and you could end up saving yourself $5-10 a week in gas.