Guide to Green Living



Friday, May 12, 2006

Tips to Improve Your Gas Mileage

These tips on how to drive more effectively will help you increase your gas mileage, and save money on fuel.

Drive passively – Do not accelerate too quickly, as doing so keeps your car in lower gears for longer, keeping your engine working harder for longer, using more gas. Also, when coming to a stop, start slowing down earlier, so you are not on the gas until the last minute, and then slamming on the brakes. Try coasting into stops instead. This way, you can reduce the number of times you have to accelerate from a complete stop due to changing traffic lights, increasing your gas mileage.

Anticipate – Look ahead at the road, and see things that are going to happen before they happen, such as looking ahead to the pedestrian signals to see if a traffic light is going to be changing shortly. This will give you a longer reaction time, letting you ease on and off the pedals, making for a smoother ride and less gas used.


Don’t speed – Studies have shown that your car reaches peak fuel efficiency at around 80km/h (50mph). That means that for every km/h over 80, your fuel efficiency suffers. So, going that extra 10 or 15km/h on highways actually hurts your mileage. See chart.
Source: United States Department of Energy

Use cruise control – You can also use cruise control to save gas; using it allows for much smoother acceleration than not using it, which would mean more impulsive use of the gas and brake pedals, and more gas. However, take note: cruise control should not be used in hilly areas, as the car will try to overcompensate while going uphill, and not do enough to slow you down while going downhill.

Build up speed before hills – Instead of accelerating up a hill, get your speed up beforehand and use your momentum to help get you over, because your engine has to work harder trying to get you up the hill than it does building up your speed on flat road.

Don’t idle – A good rule of thumb is if your car is going to be sitting idle for longer than a minute, shut it off. Generally, more fuel is used by a car idling for a minute than is used to start a car. Also, it is a good idea to make your adjustments (seat, mirror, etc.) before starting your car. This will reduce your idling time. Remember, idling gets you zero miles per gallon.

Keep your windows up at high speeds – At highway speeds, open windows can cause added drag to your car, forcing it to use more gas to reach the same speed.

Links:
Video (wmv format) from the US Department of Energy that shows how driving style can affect mileage
Edmunds.com tests out five of the most common fuel economy tips
DriveFar, a site dedicated to ‘going further on less'
Natural Resources Canada’s feature on idling, with facts on why idling is bad for your health, your engine, or your wallet

Have any tips of your own? Add them in the comments!


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