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April 29, 2009

Earth Month Tips to Help Improve Your Vehicle's Fuel Economy

Gas_Station_by_Alvimann_at_morguefile  Just a year ago, the price for premium fuel in the Los Angeles area was over $4. This month, it's not quite half that, loitering around $2.25. That doesn't mean we're not still concerned about getting the maximum possible fuel economy from our cars.

AP_be_greenAt, we recognize our responsibility to the world around us and are already striving to reduce our environmental impact. As one of our last posts of Earth Month, in addition to encouraging the Three Green R's (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) of daily life, we encourage the following automotive tips, which are useful whether you're trying to make a difference by helping the environment, or you're just aiming to save a few more dollars at the pump each month.

Speed-limit_55 Observe the speed limit.
As a general rule, assume that each one mph over 50 mph reduces your fuel mileage by 0.1 miles per gallon. Some say that can be as much as one to four miles per gallon less for every 10 mph over the speed limit you drive. Depending on your driving style and how fast you drive, you could waste 20 to 70 cents per gallon. Use your cruise control whenever possible to help prevent you from creeping up in speed without realizing it.

Avoid hard or "jackrabbit" starts and stops. Aggressive driving can reduce your gas mileage by 33 percent on the highway and 5 percent in the city.

Reduce excess vehicle weight.
Avoid keeping unnecessary items in your car or trunk. The heavier your car is, the harder it has to work to propel itself forward. Empty out your trunk and backseat of ice chests, beach chairs, cases of waterbottles, and other items that you're not using to lighten the load. Each 100 pounds can reduce your economy by 2%.

Keep your car properly tuned.
A well-tuned car can run 4% more efficiently than one that is out or tune or has failed its emissions test.

Check and replace air filters regularly.
Replacing a clogged air filter can improve your fuel economy by as much as 10%.

Tire_Check_by_Alvimann_at_morguefile Keep your tires properly inflated.
Driving with your tires at the proper inflation can improve your efficiency by up to 3%. That's a savings of $30 to $70 depending on how much you drive. Underinflated tires alone cost the country more than $3.5 million gallons of gasoline each day.

Don't idle.
Idling for just 10 minutes per day can waste as much as 22 gallons per year. At $3.00 a gallon, that's $66 in your pocket. At $4.00 a gallon, that's $88 bucks.

Coast instead of braking.
When you see a stop sign up ahead or a traffic light turning yellow, take your foot off the gas and let your vehicle slow down by itself.  What's the point of wasting fuel to propel you to the impending stop?

These are easy tips anybody can implement to save fuel. However, there are some hard-core drivers out there known as "Hypermilers" who can recommend more extreme ways to squeeze a few more miles out of every tank. Those who modify their driving habits to extract every possible mile out of your gasoline use such techniques as drafting, ridge-riding, and power-gliding, and others to attain ultimate fuel economy that sometimes nearly doubles what is expected from their vehicles. You can read more about hypermiling here:

Regardless of which techniques you choose to employ, our Mother Earth thanks you for doing whatever you can to make a difference to be green, and treat her planet with kind respect. And so do I.

Creative Commons tire check and gas station images tire courtesy of alvimann at morguefile,

Jody-devere_president_askpatty Jody DeVere
President and CEO

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