Driving green helps the environment and your budget. Here are some tips from EcoDriving.com.
Read Your Owner’s Manual
Tip #1: Your glove compartment contains one of the most important sources of fuel economy information, and it is specialized for your vehicle model and engine. Your owner’s manual may even have a section specifically on fuel economy. Typically your owner’s manual will list a recommended service schedule designed to keep your vehicle operating efficiently. Automobiles today are designed to operate well over 120,000 miles and most vehicles run much further with proper care.
Use the Recommended Motor Oil
Tip #2: Your vehicle’s engine was designed for a specific oil viscosity and quality, so be sure to check your owner’s manual for the recommended type of motor oil. According to U.S. EPA, fuel economy can be can be improved by 1-2% by using the manufacturer’s recommended type of motor oil. Motor oils that say “Energy Conserving” contain friction-reducing additives that can provide additional benefits. You can get more information from your service provider. Also, ensure that you change the oil regularly according to the manufacturer’s recommendation, because degraded motor oil will decrease fuel economy.
Schedule Periodic Engine Tune-ups
Tip #3: To keep your vehicle’s performance at its peak, visit your auto shop on a regular schedule. Today’s automobile is basically a computer on wheels, and auto technicians use computer diagnostics to check engine timing, fuel injection, valves, spark plugs and more. Typically a tune-up can improve fuel mileage by an average of 4%, but larger gains have been seen.
Replace Air Filters Regularly
Tip #4: Automobiles today have air flow sensors that constantly monitor the air intake of the engine and fuel is metered accordingly. An air filter that is plugged with dirt and debris can require more fuel to pump air through the filter. According to the U.S. Dept. of Energy, replacing a plugged air filter can increase your fuel mileage by 10%. How often should the air filter be changed? As a general rule, if you can see light through the filter, you don’t need a new one. But it is always best to check your owner’s manual to determine the replacement interval that will produce optimum results for your model of vehicle.
Check Your Tire Pressure Monthly
Tip #5: The Department of Energy estimates that 1.2 billion gallons of fuel were wasted in 2005 as a result of driving on under-inflated tires. Tires can lose air naturally, by as much as 1.5 PSI (pounds per square inch) a month. It has been estimated by experts that 25% of automobiles are running on tires with less than the recommended inflation pressure. Fuel efficiency is reduced by 1% for every 3 PSI that tires are under-inflated. So, ensuring your tires are properly inflated translates into a free tank of gas per year and CO2 emissions are reduced also. Tire pressures should be checked at least once monthly. The correct tire pressure in PSI can be found on the tire label, usually located on the edge of the driver’s door or the door frame. If everyone had their tires aligned and filled to proper pressure, we would save 300 million gallons of gas a year in California alone according to the California Energy Commission.
Check the Weather, then Check Your Tires
Tip #6: Tire pressures vary an average of 1 PSI for every 10 degree Fahrenheit change in air temperature. So, a heat wave or sudden cold front usually means it is time to check your tires. Correctly inflated tires run cooler, last longer and improve fuel economy. The U.S. EPA estimates that fuel mileage can improve by about 3% by keeping tires inflated to recommended pressures.
Invest in a Tire Pressure Gauge
Tip #7: New vehicles now come with tire pressure monitoring systems, including a warning light on your dashboard. These systems will turn this light on in your dash when a tire is under inflated by 25%, but it’s always advisable to check your tires with a tire pressure gauge periodically before you see the warning light. Tire pressures increase when driving, so to obtain an accurate reading, check the pressures when you haven’t driven for three or more hours.
Reduce Aerodynamic Drag
Tip #8: Remember the tail fins on 1950’s era vehicles? They were eye catching but not very aerodynamic. At highway speeds, roughly 50% of engine power goes to overcoming aerodynamic drag, according to Consumer Reports. Wind resistance can cause mileage to suffer, so you can increase your mileage by removing luggage racks and roof-top carriers when they aren’t needed. Experts at Edmunds.com say that even keeping your car washed and waxed improves aerodynamics. (We recommend Express Auto for this of course!)
Tighten Your Gas Cap
Tip #9: Gasoline evaporates easily, so today’s vehicles have been designed to specifically reduce evaporative emissions compared to cars from the past. A loose gas cap can be a quick escape route for gasoline. Up to 30 gallons of gas could be lost annually to evaporation when the cap is not fully tightened. Damaged, missing or loose gas caps cause 147 million gallons of gasoline to evaporate each year, according to the Car Care Council. Your owner’s manual contains good advice because some manufacturers urge drivers to tighten gas caps until they click.
Remove Excess Weight from Your Vehicle
Tip #10: Take those golf clubs out of your car when you aren’t using them. Every extra pound of weight requires your car to work harder to move it, and that extra effort uses fuel. Though it’s convenient to leave items in your automobile, extra weight affects fuel economy and CO2 emissions. An extra 100 lbs. in the trunk typically reduces mileage by 2%.
More tips for saving the environment and your budget can be downloaded at www.ecodrivingusa.com