The Consumer Federation of America’s 2010 survey says that if we had a 50 mile-per-gallon car fleet today, we’d save more oil than the entire proven reserves in the entire Gulf of Mexico. While most people care about fuel economy, they’re often misinformed about how to actually achieve it.
A few misconceptions
It takes more fuel to start a vehicle than it does to let it idle.
Wrong. Idling uses a quarter to a half gallon of fuel in an hour (costing you one to two cents each minute). Unless you’re stalled in traffic, turn off the car when stopped for more than a few minutes.
Vehicles need to be warmed up before they’re driven.
Wrong. Today’s modern vehicles are fine being driven seconds after they’re started.
Wrong. As long as it’s properly maintained, a 10- or 15-year-old car should retain its original fuel economy. The key variable is maintenance: An out-of-tune car’s mileage will definitely start to decline.
Utilizing premium fuel improves fuel economy.
Wrong. Unless your vehicle requires (as opposed to recommends) premium fuel, you can opt for lower octane fuel without impacting fuel economy or hurting your engine. Edmunds explains this misconception and has compiled lists of 2008-’12 model years that tells you whether your car requires or only recommends premium fuel.
Tips to save money at the pump
Straighten up, tune up, and pump ‘em up.
Poor alignment not only causes tires to wear more rapidly, but also forces your engine to work harder and reduces fuel economy. A properly maintained engine can improve mileage and prolong its life. Also, keep tires properly inflated to optimize fuel efficiency. Did you know that more than 25% of vehicles are driving on under-inflated tires? Check yours today.
Check your gas cap.
Improve your fuel mileage and avoid air pollution by replacing a bad gas cap.
Drive more smoothly and slow down.
Avoiding jack-rabbit starts and stops will improve fuel economy. Also, don’t ride your brake pedal. Reduce your highway speed – for every 5 mph reduced, you can reduce fuel consumption by up to 7%.
Shed the weight.
For every 100 extra pounds carried around, your vehicle loses 1 to 2% in fuel efficiency.