Getting the most out of your
tank of gas
Story by Jon Yim
Editor, The HOIST
By now, a lot of us are feeling the pinch at the pump. Regardless of where you are, it's costing more and more to keep the ol' set of wheels filled-up and on the road.
But you don't have to think about buying a hybrid or an alternative fuel vehicle. You can save gas between fill ups with just a few simple tips. According to San Diego auto expert Dave Stall, you can ease the petroleum pinch to your wallet with these simple suggestions:
- Accelerate gradually, drive smoothly and with care and you could see as much as a 20 percent gain in fuel economy compared with what you'd get with an aggressive driving style.
- Skip those jackrabbit starts, sudden pedal-to-the-metal maneuvers if you want to save gas. In other words, "Lose the lead-foot!"
- Keep your speed CONSTANT at 65MPH or lower. Even driving at 55MPH will save you gas.
- If your car is equipped with a cruise control, use it as much as you can.
- Check your tire pressure. When drivers do check them, it's all too infrequent. Keep your tires inflated to the specs molded on the sidewalls. It's all about rolling properly that saves you gas.
- Unless you're actually toting motorbikes, surfboards, bicycles or skis, get the racks off your vehicle if you're not using them -- they add wind resistance!
- Check your car's owner's manual -- make sure you're getting your vehicle serviced at the manufacturer's suggested intervals.
- Don't top off your tank when you fill up. When the delivery nozzle clicks off, stop fueling. The more you click it to top it off, most of the gas you thought was going in YOUR tank is streaming back to the GAS STATION's tank!
- A washed and waxed car isn't just a show of vanity -- a clean, shiny car moves through the air smoother than a dirty, grubby one. It's all about aerodynamics.
- CHEAP GAS isn't necessarily GOOD GAS. If you can afford to buy mid-grade on-occasion, get it!
- Ditch the junk in your trunk and rear cargo area! Get the golf clubs, toolbox and beach umbrella OUT! Shave weight whenever you can INSIDE your vehicle.
- Don't idle your car for long periods. Unless you're made of cash, you waste fuel by sitting in that drive-thru lane at McDonald's or Taco Bell. Park and go inside instead. Don't let your vehicle idle as you wait outside the school to pick up your kids. Idling uses more fuel than turning the engine off, waiting for your youngsters and then restarting the engine.
- When you're in slow city traffic, keep the air conditioner off, if possible. That air conditioner puts a strain on the engine and uses fuel.
- Look at alternative transportation options - even if it's just for one or two days a week. Walk, bicycle, carpool or take public transportation and leave your vehicle at home, whenever possible.
Most Common Fuel Wasters:
- Loose or missing gas caps. 17 percent of US vehicles have a loose or missing gas cap. This allows an estimated 147,000,000 gallons of gas per year to evaporate into thin air.
- Under-inflated tires
- Faulty thermostats
- Worn spark plugs
- Malfunctioning engine controls
- Poor wheel alignment
With a little driving discipline, some minor maintenance and common sense, you can save yourself a little grief before your next stop at the gas station.