Remember when gas was under two dollars a gallon? Prices plummeted two years ago as the world came to a halt. And ever since, they’ve been rising steadily upward. Will they hit four dollars? Five? Only time will tell.
You feel it every time you pull into a gas station. Depending on the car you drive, you may have even reached a pump limit of $100. Now what? How do you make your car more efficient with gas prices continually rising? Or will you have to cut back in other areas of your life to meet this new reality?
Understanding fuel efficiency
Want a gallon of gas today? The national average is just over $4.24 a gallon. Compare that to $2.88 just a year ago, and you can easily see where your hard-earned money is going, especially if you’re back to driving to work every day.
It might lead you to wish for a more fuel efficient vehicle. What is fuel efficiency anyway?
Fuel efficiency measures effort to convert energy from the fuel into kinetic energy your car needs to move. It’s the measure of how far a vehicle can travel on one gallon of gas.
A lot of variables control how fuel efficient a car will be: tires, design of the car, weather conditions, driving conditions, just to name a few. While you may hear the terms fuel economy and fuel efficiency used interchangeably, they aren’t the same thing. Fuel efficiency is broader and includes how a vehicle uses the fuel. And that’s where you have some control.
While your car may have come with fuel efficiency guidelines, there are things you can do to save on gas. Fine-tuning your driving strategies can help you save at the pump, and make your car last longer too.
Car efficiency tips
Want to know how to make your car more efficient? It might be easier than you think. We have a few tips for you that don’t cost a lot and take little time to implement. Being aware of what impacts fuel efficiency is often enough to help you drive differently, depending on the conditions.
Clean out your car
Today’s vehicles are bigger than ever. We also weigh them down with many different things. Walk around your car and take a look at the extras. Do you have ski racks and cargo bins on top? Do you have bike racks tacked to the back? Do you carry workout items, sports equipment, and extra tools in the back? All of that adds unnecessary weight to your vehicle. Studies show you can lose 8 to 10 mpg with these extras in place. And at today’s gas prices, that can really add up. If you’re not using the extras, consider taking them off for your daily commute. You can always add them back when heading away for the weekend.
Improve your driving
Take a good look at the way you drive. Are you offensive or defensive in your daily driving patterns? Do you drive aggressively in traffic? Hard acceleration and braking can decrease your fuel efficiency by several miles per gallon. Instead, practice smooth driving. Leave space between you and the car in front of you. Leave early, so you have a few minutes to spare. Anticipate what’s coming up so you can smoothly transition as you drive. Not only will this help with fuel economy, but it will also help make your drive safer in the process.
While there’s evidence that higher speed limits increase the risk of accidents, there’s also sufficient evidence that higher speeds also consume more gasoline. As you reach 45-50 mph, your car starts to lose efficiency. The faster you go, the more the numbers drop. Driving fast may get you there in a shorter period of time. But when fuel efficiency matters and you’re trying to conserve how much you pay at the pump, slowing down will help you conserve.
Check your tire pressure
When your tires are underinflated, it lowers your fuel economy. It also puts you at risk. Tire pressure controls how well connected your vehicle is to the road. If they aren’t inflated properly, they can’t do their job efficiently. While many of today’s vehicles have sensors telling you of a pending problem, it’s worth checking your tire pressure regularly to ensure they are properly inflated.
Buy quality gas
One of the easiest ways to make your car more efficient is to pay attention to where you purchase your gasoline. Top-tier gas stations are held to higher standards with additives. By filling up at a reputable station, you are ensured you’re getting good quality gas that will keep your engine working well. Also pay attention to what type of gasoline your vehicle needs to drive well. Stick with premium if the manufacturer suggests it, as it keeps your car running well. We also recommend keeping your tank at least half. This reduces the risk of running out, and protects you in case of inclement weather or gas shortages.
Perform regular maintenance
A well maintained vehicle will always perform better than one with potential problems. Dirty air filters, faulty spark plugs, or outdated oil changes all impact performance. Sticking with a regular maintenance schedule ensures your vehicle performs at its best ability, and helps catch potential problems before they escalate. That keeps you safer while driving on the road, and can save on repair bills over time.
How can you make your car more efficient now that gas prices are rising once again? It doesn’t take much. Just a few proactive tips can make a difference each time you pull in to fill up.