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Saving Money - Increasing Gas Mileage - Health Insurance



Getting Better Gas Mileage


(" Now I used to think that I was cool, Running around on fossil fuel, Until I saw what I was doing, Was driving down the road to ruin.") James Taylor - "Traffic Jam"


Even though the national average for gas prices has fallen from its previous high of around $4.00 per gallon, driver’s in the United States have maintained a renewed interest in conserving energy in order to save money on the cost of fuel.


While consumers can do little about the price of gasoline, drivers can improve the miles per gallon of their gas guzzler or economy car by changing their driving habits, properly maintaining their vehicles and using a little common sense.


Improving the gas mileage of a car or truck requires a real commitment on the driver’s part. Since there is no one way to drastically decrease fuel consumption drivers need to combine several techniques if they hope to meet or exceed the EPA (Environmental Protection Agencies) mileage rating for their vehicle.


Excess weight – every 100 pounds of additional weight a car carries can decrease gas mileage by 1 to 2% and even more in smaller vehicles. The easiest way to reduce your vehicles unnecessary weight is to clean out your trunk but you may want to consider driving with less fuel in your gas tank. Recently commercial airlines have been accused of forcing pilots to fly with less fuel to reduce weight in order to decrease fuel consumption. If this practice can save the airlines money it can work for you. 


Gasoline is less dense than water and weighs between 5.8 and 6.5 lbs depending on air temperature. Rather than filling your gas tank at the pump keep your tank half full and lose 45 to 65 pounds of excess weight. Never run your gas tank to low on fuel. The electric submersible fuel pump in your gas tank is cooled by the gas in your tank and driving with low fuel can shorten the lifespan of the fuel pump.


Tire pressure – Barack Obama and John McCain have recently debated the importance of tire pressures affect on gas mileage. Keep your tires inflated at the amount specified by the manufacturer. This information is generally provided on the driver side door pillar, inside the glove box or in your vehicles service manual. 


Don’t assume that tires require 30-32 psi. In many cases modern tire technology has increased these numbers significantly and don’t rely on auto manufactures tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS), most of which only inform you if one tire has lost more than 20% of the recommended air pressure.


Purchase a digital tire gauge. Air pumps at service stations are often calibrated incorrectly and may not put the amount of air into your tire that you specified. To get the most accurate reading for tire pressure, check your tires in the morning when they are “cold”.


Check tire pressure at least once a month. If you live in an area that experiences drastic seasonal temperature changes or wide daily temperature ranges check you tires more frequently. For every 10 degree drop in temperature most tires lose 1 pound of air pressure. If all 4 of your tires are 5 lbs low your gas mileage can decrease by approximately 2%


According to the Department of Energy, underinflated tires cost the country more than 1.25 billion gallons. of gasoline annually or roughly 1 percent of the total consumption of 142 billion gal.


Over inflating your tire pressure will NOT improve gas mileage and can be dangerous. Too much air pressure in tires can increase tire wear, increase the likelihood of a tire blow out, affect braking/handling, increase the risk of hydroplaning and increase the possibility of a tire related accident.


Cruise control – if you are driving for extended periods on an even road surface using cruise control can increase gas mileage by 2 to 5%. If you are driving up or down hills cruise control can actually decrease gas mileage. For safety purposes cruise control should not be used in city or congested highway driving.


Aerodynamics – opening your windows or sunroof while driving at speeds over 40 mph can reduce gas mileage by 2-4%. When not in use remove roof carriers, bike racks or any other object that increases drag on your vehicle.


Transmission gear selection – getting your vehicle into the highest gear you can at the lowest possible speed can significantly reduce gasoline consumption. An engine turning at slower speeds (rpm) means fewer explosions per cylinder. Fewer explosions per cylinder = less gas consumed.


Anticipate stops and traffic delays – your vehicle gets 0 mpg when stopped or at idle. An auto idling for 10 seconds uses more fuel than starting a car.


Air conditioning – running your vehicle with the a/c on can reduce gas mileage by 2-4 miles per gallon regardless of the temperature setting. When driving at highway speeds or over 40 miles per hour turn your air conditioner on rather than rolling down your window. The aerodynamic drag created by open windows/moonroof is worse than the drag created on the engine by the air conditioning compressor.


Drive at lower speeds and less aggressively – rapid acceleration can increase fuel consumption considerably. When driving on the highway maintaining a speed of 55 to 60 mph will result in optimum miles per gallon.


Types of gasoline – use the grade of gas specified by your vehicles manufacturer. Putting premium high octane gas in a non high performance engine will not increase gas mileage. While knock sensors may protect high performance engines if you use regular gas your engine performance will suffer considerably. This loss of performance may result in the driver stepping on the gas pedal more and negate any saving gained by using regular rather than premium gas.


Fuel additives – if you want to save money don’t waste it by purchasing additives that claim to increase gas mileage. If your car has fuel injection and more than 30,000 miles using a factory recommended fuel injector cleaner may slightly improve your gas mileage.


Paying for gas – unless you have a zero interest credit card or pay your monthly credit card balance in full always purchase gas with cash. Credit card interest can increase your fuel cost by up to 25 percent.


Other common sense ways to save gas include cutting down the amount of driving you do by planning your errands, changing your air filter regularly and stopping to ask for directions if you are lost.


Individually none of these tips will significantly reduce your fuel costs but collectively you may be surprised at how much you can increase your gas mileage and how much money you can save.


Find out the EPA gas mileage estimate for your 2005 through 2009 car or truck


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