Safe Driving Information and Tips for Improving Your Gas Mileage


Things You Can Do Before Driving:
• Get a smaller vehicle. Do you drive an SUV that can carry a small army? Consider a vehicle that is more modest in size. Even if a compact car is too small for your family, consider a crossover vehicle (SUV built on a car platform), a mid-size car, or even smaller SUV hybrid. Even if it can fit 12 adults, unless you’re doing it every day, you’re just hauling around those couple tons of extra vehicle the rest of the time.
• Don’t fill your tank all the way. Unless you’re doing some long-distance driving, you’re hauling around an extra 50-100 pounds for no reason, though you should always keep enough fuel in your tank to make it at least 50 miles.
• Remove useless items from your car. If you have a bunch of junk you don’t need in your trunk, it’s time to clear it out. Professionals get paid to haul cargo around town, but even they eventually drop it off. You’re frittering away money for fuel to transport the items in your trunk across town and back every day.
• Remove unused bike, luggage, or ski racks. Any object protruding from your car, such as luggage, bicycle, or ski racks, will create more drag on your car. Years of scientific research has gone into the aerodynamic shape of your car’s exterior, but if you’re keeping your ski racks on in the middle of summer, you’re paying the price. Some racks alleviate this by including a flat panel at the front to direct air over the rack. While this helps, the rack as a whole still increases drag and lowers your fuel efficiency.
• Fill your tires. Your tires are your car’s only points of contact with the road. If they are improperly inflated, more rubber will be in contact with the road, causing more friction. During turns, you might notice a “mushy” feeling. That feeling is your tires rolling slightly on their sidewalls from under inflation. As your wheels heat up and are forced to flex more, they cause further friction with the road and excessive wear on the tires themselves.
• Tighten your fuel cap. Most modern vehicles have instructions on the fuel cap telling you to tighten the fuel cap until it clicks. If your fuel cap is an older type (one that is metal, and not plastic), make sure it’s tightly screwed on.
While Driving:
• Leave earlier. Even if you don’t avoid traffic this way, you won’t be in a rush to get to your destination. You can get away with lower amounts of acceleration since you won’t be racing everybody else to make it on time.
• Don’t use 4-wheel drive. If you can turn your 4-wheel drive function off, do it. The overhead of spinning the extra axle and wheels on dry pavement doesn’t normally provide more traction or control; it only uses gas much faster.
• Keep your speed down. You have probably heard this before. Not only does speeding make driving far more dangerous, it wastes fuel because you’re putting your car’s engine against wind resistance. As you further increase your speed, wind resistance increases with it.
• Use your air conditioner less. In some states, this isn’t a practical solution on most days of the summer. If you can, try to keep your windows down while you drive at lower speeds. At higher speeds, downed windows can increase the drag on your car, but at lower speeds ( • Don’t show off. When you are revving your engine and taking off from stop lights, you’re just wasting fuel. Hard acceleration will usually only get you to the next red light faster, and revving is a complete waste, as none of the increased fuel input is creating any kinetic energy output.
• Try not to idle. If you’re waiting on somebody inside a store, or leaving your car running for just a minute or two, just turn it off. There’s no point in using your engine for nothing. If you want to listen to the radio, almost all cars have an “Accessory” position which will run the car’s accessories while the engine is off.
• Stop searching for that parking spot. Many people spend almost ten minutes looking for a spot that’s three cars closer than a different, open spot they saw earlier. If your groceries are too heavy to carry 20 additional feet, use a grocery cart.