It’s a shame that it took $4-a-gallon gasoline for most people to finally start thinking seriously about conserving fuel. Not surprisingly, the New Stratosphere of Gas Prices has led to more and more tips about ways to save fuel. Walt’s Auto Care Centers, based in the Pacific Northwest, recently offered some fairly obvious, but still highly valuable, tips that I’ll list below …
Personally, though, I’ve been practicing what I feel are two of the best—and easiest—ways to cut down on your vehicle’s fuel usage.
1. Turn off your car once you’ve parked it.
Don’t just sit there with the car idling for two minutes until “Stairway to Heaven” reaches its denouement, you manage to wrap up your phone call, or your wife reemerges from her favorite department store. If you want to stay in the car for a few more minutes, switch off the engine.
2. Time your approach to traffic lights.
Minimize excess accelerating and braking when you’re going to have to stop in a few hundred feet anyway. You should be watching far ahead already, so it should be fairly easy to pay attention to the cycles of upcoming traffic lights. As soon as you know that you’re going to have to wait at a light, lift off the gas pedal and start coasting toward the intersection. Too many drivers (at least here in suburban Detroit) continue to rush forward at the speed limit until there’s barely enough space remaining to jam on the brakes without rear-ending somebody.
If you time it properly, you won’t have to stop at the light at all, thereby maintaining some of your vehicle’s gasoline-fueled momentum, so your engine won’t have to work as hard to get you back up to the speed limit.
As a nice side-effect, this approach saves wear on your brakes and your tires, and you’re a bit less likely to run a red light and broadside a school bus. What could be better?
(Of course, if the traffic lights themselves are timed to aid in the continuous, regular flow of traffic, this becomes more or less automatic because traffic is already more closely in sync.)
Oh yeah, I promised a list … Without further ado, here’s Walt’s Auto Care Center’s list of fuel-saving tips, just in time for the Fourth of July holiday:
1. Replace the air filter. Replacing a dirty or clogged filter can improve fuel efficiency by as much as 10 percent, or about $.41 per gallon. Most car manuals recommend replacing the air filter every 9,000 to 12,000 miles.
2. Change engine oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. Dirty oil can cause vehicles to lose as much as 1 to 2 percent, or $.04 to $.08 per gallon.
3. Perform a fuel system tune-up. A tune-up can improve fuel-efficiency as much as 4 percent.
4. Lighten your load. Get rid of excess weight in your trunk or luggage racks on top of your vehicle.
5. Perform a transmission flush. A transmission not performing at its peak can cost extra miles per gallon. Symptoms of a transmission in need of service include erratic or rough shifting, gear slippage and stalling.
6. Check the tire pressure. Under-inflated tires can significantly reduce fuel efficiency. Check tire pressure each time the car is fueled up to ensure proper inflation and save an extra 3 percent or about $0.12 per gallon.
Source: Walt’s Wrench