Things You Didn't Learn in Driver's Ed: Fuel Saving Tips
While driver’s education provides a decent foundation, there are many other topics that we feel deserve attention. In our new series “Things You Didn’t Learn in Driver’s Ed” we’ll be focusing on some obscure but equally important concepts for drivers of all experience levels. If there’s a question or concept that you’d like clarification on, feel free to reach out to us and we’ll try to include it in a future post.
THIS WEEK WE'RE TALKING ABOUT FUEL SAVING TIPS
Back in the day, I remember fuel costs being minimal; under a buck. Even then my parents would gripe about how expensive it was. Now that I’m a parent tasked with keeping the tank full, I understand their frustration. As the owner of a driving school, it may come as a surprise, but there aren’t any secrets to saving money at the pump. In fact, aside from the increase in gas prices, not much else has changed. The same tried and true methods from back in the day remain current. Here are 5 classic tips to squeeze a few extra pennies at the pump.
Fuel Saving Tip: Tire Pressure
Under-inflated tires increase friction between the tire and the road surface. This reduces fuel economy and even becomes a safety concern. Heat is the nasty little byproduct of friction. If you consistently drive on under-inflated tires, the increased friction can overheat your tires potentially causing tire failure. We recommend checking your tire pressure each week but at a minimum of once per month.
There are quite a few arguments over proper tire pressure and where the rating is found. Tire pressure ratings can be found in the vehicle owner’s manual, the sticker on the driver’s side door jamb, or on the tire sidewall. Unfortunately, the biggest discrepancy is between vehicle and tire manufacturers.
We recommend using the psi rating on the tire sidewall. This is both for fuel savings and safety reasons. We’ll go into further detail in a future post, but for now, inflate your tires to the max PSI on the tire sidewall.
Fuel Saving Tip: Feather Feet
Throttle input is a huge fuel suck. If you currently drive around Fast and Furious style, you may want to back it down a notch before breaking the bank. Every time you press your throttle, you’re asking the car for more energy. This energy comes in the form of air and fuel. The more energy you ask for, the more fuel will be burned to create it. Think of the throttle as your wallet. The faster you open it, the faster the money flies out.
While throttle technique is a great starting point to reduce fuel consumption, it’s also a good idea to work on braking technique. The goal is to remain smooth on both pedals as opposed to hard on/off. Feather feet.
Fuel Saving Tip: Heat Sucks
While some suggest driving around without A/C, here in northeast Florida, that’s crazy talk. Instead, use the A/C on recirculate. The recirculate feature will keep the already cooled air in the cabin lessening the strain on the A/C compressor. Without it, your car will have to expend quite a bit of energy cooling down the hot outside air and as we’ve learned, energy equals cash.
Fuel Saving Tip: Cruise Not
While some think of cruise control as a useful tool, we recommend never using it. There are severe safety issues when it comes to cruise control, but the fuel inefficiencies are almost as severe. If you live in an area with elevation changes, that cruise control is robbing you of hard-earned money. With cruise on, your car will accelerate inefficiently uphill to maintain the set speed. Cruise control is nothing more than a heavy foot with its hand in your wallet.
If cruise control is a must, say, on a road trip. Use it sparingly and on flat, dry surfaces.
Fuel Saving Tip: Be Regular
Don’t take premium at its word. Believe it or not, the common fuel grades are not suggesting which fuel is best. They are merely letting you know how much compression the fuel can withstand before igniting. Sports cars for instance, generally have higher compression engines that require higher octane fuel. You common commuter cars won't benefit from these ratings so spending the extra on mid or premium grade fuel is wasteful.
We recommend checking your owners manual to see what fuel grade is recommended for your car. While 87 is most common, there are circumstances where a manufacturer will recommend 89 or 93.
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