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High Fuel Costs

Summary: Practice driving tips and maintenance practices that can increase your fuel efficiency while you get the last miles out of that gas guzzler and say good bye to it forever - then experience the wonderful world of electric cars.

Don't Let High Fuel Costs Drive You Nuts

Whether you drive an economy car or an SUV, there are plenty of ways to improve your gas mileage.

Avoid aggressive driving and observe the speed limit. Speeding, fast acceleration, and hard braking wastes gas.

Lighten your load by clearing your car of extra weight, and remove roof racks or carriers if not used frequently.

Keep current with car maintenance—clean air filters can improve gas mileage by as much as 10%. Properly inflated and aligned tires will improve gas mileage by 3%. Using the wrong grade of oil can reduce mileage by 1% to 2%.

For longer-term savings, consider a high-mileage vehicle for your next purchase.

See http://www.fueleconomy.gov/ for more on buying a fuel-efficient car or truck.

Check out Driving and Car Maintenance for more tips.

Driving Tips

Transportation accounts for 66% of U.S. oil use — mainly in the form of gasoline. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to improve gas mileage.

  • Idling gets you 0 miles per gallon. The best way to warm up a vehicle is to drive it. No more than 30 seconds of idling on winter days is needed. Anything more simply wastes fuel and increases emissions.
  • Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration, and hard braking) wastes gas. It can lower your highway gas mileage 33% and city mileage 5%.

  • Avoid high speeds. Above 60 mph, gas mileage drops rapidly. The fueleconomy.gov Web site shows how driving speed affects gas mileage.

  • When you use overdrive gearing, your car's engine speed goes down. This saves gas and reduces wear.

  • Using cruise control on the highway helps you maintain a constant speed and, in most cases, will save gas.

  • Use air conditioning only when necessary.

  • Clear out your car; extra weight decreases gas mileage.

  • Reduce drag by placing items inside the car or trunk rather than on roof racks. A roof rack or carrier provides additional cargo space and may allow you to buy a smaller car. However, a loaded roof rack can decrease your fuel economy by 5%.

  • Check into telecommuting, carpooling and public transit to cut mileage and car maintenance costs.

Car Maintenance Tips

  • Use the grade of motor oil recommended by your car's manufacturer. Using a different motor oil can lower your gasoline mileage by 1%-2%.

  • Keep tires properly inflated and aligned to improve your gasoline mileage by around 3.3%.

  • Get regular engine tune-ups and car maintenance checks to avoid fuel economy problems due to worn spark plugs, dragging brakes, low transmission fluid, or transmission problems.

  • Replace clogged air filters to improve gas mileage by as much as 10% and protect your engine.

  • Combine errands into one trip. Several short trips, each one taken from a cold start, can use twice as much fuel as one trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm.

  • $ Long-Term Savings Tip: Consider buying a highly fuel-efficient vehicle. A fuel-efficient vehicle, a hybrid vehicle, or an alternative fuel vehicle could save you a lot at the gas pump and help the environment. See the Fuel Economy Guide for more on buying a new fuel-efficient car or truck.


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