With gas prices gorging our pocket books it's no surprise that many of us are canceling our spring break road trips and opting instead to spend "quality" time relaxing at home instead. Thing is, there are several steps you could be taking to actually save gas and money and still get out of town! Save green and be green by test-driving these tips:
What? TUNE UP YOUR CAR
Why? Keeping your car properly tuned up to improve gas mileage by about 4 percent. Keeping a mileage record will tell you when your gas mileage is slipping, which is a signal for a tune-up.
What? SLOW DOWN!
Why? Speeding, rapid acceleration, and rapid braking all waste gas and cut down your mileage potential by as much as 33 percent at highway speeds, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Stop sudden jack-rabbit starts, opting instead for slow acceleration. Keep in mind that speeding wastes gas and money. Each mile per hour you drive over 60 mph is like paying an extra 10 cents per gallon according to DOE.
3. USE CRUISE CONTROL
Why? When driving along long stretches of open road, cruise control can be a very valuable asset, maintaining your speed within the least gas-guzzling gear, plus keeping your chances of accidental speeding (and getting pulled over and ticketed) to a minimum. BUT, where cruise control can take a bite into your gas mileage potential is on hills where it tends to coast up the hill until it realizes that it is losing speed and quickly attempts to make up for it by pushing the throttle, increasing your speed and your gas use.
What? EMPTY YOUR TRUNK OF UNNECESSARY DAILY BAGGAGE
Why? Carrying as few as 100 extra pounds can decrease the average car's fuel economy by 1-2 percent. Unless you golf on a daily basis, your clubs don't need to travel with you. Always carry a bag packed in your trunk "just in case?" Lighten it up. That load is dragging you down.
ROLL DOWN THE WINDOWS
Why? No, not to air out a foul scent, but to let the fresh breeze in instead of cranking up that air conditioner. Using the air conditioning can up fuel use by as much as 10 percent. Imagine saving 10 percent of the money you save on gas by just rolling down the window!
DON'T SLAM ON YOUR BREAKS
Why? See a stop sign or red light up ahead? Instead of slamming on your breaks just before the line, slowly ease off the gas ahead of time, coasting to a stop. When the light changes green, forget that pedal to the metal mindset and, again, ease into. You will experience a more enjoyable and relaxing ride, save money, and minimize brake pad wear out- saving money on both gear and gas.
What? CHECK AND REPLACE AIR FILTERS REGULARLY
Why? A clean air filter keeps impurities from damaging the inside of your engine. How does that help you on a daily basis? Replacing a clogged or dirty air filter can improve your car's gas mileage by as much as 10 percent. A clogged air filter leaves your engine gasping for breath, in other words you are probably running with a "rich" mixture that is more gas and less air. Many auto stores carry air filters, and thankfully they are simple to change. Not sure if your filter needs changing? Take it out and hold it up to the light. If you can't see any light coming through, it's too dirty. If you don't trust yourself to replace it, ask a car expert to help you out. It's worth it.
USE SMART ROAD MAPS THAT SHOW TRAFFIC
Why? The iphone's map not only shows you the best and fastest route from A to B, but also has the option of showing you hoe trafficked that route is at that moment. By choosing routes with less traffic you not only will arrive to your destination faster, but you will also minimize the excessive stop and go gas use.
AVOID THE DRIVE-THRU
Why? Idling is one of the best ways to burn through lots of gas and get absolutely nothing out of it. And where do we spend idle time the most? The Drive-thru. Instead of polluting the planet and wasting gas, park your car, walk inside and order your food (if, that is, you must eat fast food in the first place). Getting up and stretching your legs will also do your body good, and maybe even the interior of your car- catching spills on the food tray instead of your seat.
CHECK YOUR TIRE PRESSURE
Why? If your tires are low on air you could be consuming as much as 3 percent more gas. Why? Low tire pressure creates a slight drag on the pavement as your tires ease into the road with each rotation. Keep your tires properly inflated (but not overly inflated- which can be dangerous) and they will roll more easily, smoothly, and economically.
Now get out of town!