Improve Your Gas Mileage and Fuel Efficiency with These Cost-Saving Tips
Owning and maintaining a vehicle can come with some overwhelming and unexpected costs. With these easy-to-adopt car maintenance habits, you can help manage those expenses by improving your fuel economy.
Saving Starts With Your Tires
Rolling resistance: A tire's rolling resistance is the amount of energy needed to keep them rolling at a steady pace. The lower the resistance, the more miles you'll get out of each gallon of gas.
Different tires have different amounts of rolling resistance. Narrower tires have less rubber on the road, which means that there's less friction and less rolling resistance. Softer rubber compounds also contribute to higher rolling resistance. It's definitely something to keep in mind if you are in the market for a new set of tires. Many tire manufacturers are making tires that feature low rolling resistance as a selling point, which could lead to measurable fuel savings and a lower cost of ownership compared with conventional tires.
Proper tire inflation: The correct tire pressure can have a significant impact on fuel economy and can save money on fuel. For example, a tire that is underinflated by 20 percent can increase a vehicle's fuel consumption by 10 percent.
You can find the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle on a sticker inside the driver's side doorjamb, in the glove compartment or in the owner's manual. Do not use the maximum pressure printed on the tire's sidewall because it can compromise your car's handling and decrease the life of your tires.
Even tread = even wear: The tread patterns on all tires should match how you intend to drive. For example, when looking at high-performance summer tires, you might notice an asymmetric tread pattern. This helps the car perform at a high level for extended periods, including taking corners at high speeds. Passenger car and truck tires typically feature symmetrical tread patterns, which lead to longer, more even wear.
When shopping for tires, pay close attention to each manufacturer's tread warranty because it can give you a general idea about how long your tires should last. Keep in mind that many factors may decrease or extend the life of tires, including the type and weight of a vehicle, road types and surfaces, altitude, weather and overall driving style.
Buying tires with a longer tread warranty makes it possible to stretch your tire-buying dollars by a few thousand miles. That can add up to quite a bit of money over the life of a vehicle.
Performance in all seasons: All-season tires are designed to provide traction and performance in most types of weather. They can be a good choice in everything from wet to dry weather and occasional light snow. If you encounter a variety of mild to moderate weather conditions year-round, all-season tires may be your best tire option.
If your winters regularly bring periods of freezing temperatures, ice, heavy snow and slush, a set of snow tires may be a worthwhile investment. They can help keep you moving forward in wintry conditions and will also help reduce wear and tear on your all-season tires.
If you drive a four-wheel drive vehicle that sees more trail and rough terrain driving, you may be better off looking for tires that can handle off-road driving conditions.
By switching out your tires for specific seasonal driving needs, you could extend the life of both sets of tires by several seasons, which will save you money in the long run.
Driving Tips to Fit Every Budget
Keep it slow and steady — Gas isn't cheap. Squeeze every last drop out of your gas tank by sticking to the speed limit, forgoing quick acceleration and easing onto your brakes. Your miles per gallon will plummet if you accelerate quickly and brake abruptly as you drive.
Tread lightly — Don't carry around items in or on your vehicle unless they are completely necessary. This goes especially for heavy and non-aerodynamic items, such as large cargo boxes and oversized roof racks. The heavier your load, the harder your vehicle has to work to reach and maintain your desired speed. And roof cargo adds wind resistance, making your vehicle burn fuel to keep pace.
Use cruise — If you're driving at a consistent speed on the freeway and it's not raining, set your cruise control. Using it will help you get the most miles out of each tank of gas. Using cruise in the rain is dangerous because wet road conditions could cause your tires to lose contact with the pavement, or hydroplane, and the cruise control's attempt to remain at a constant speed can make the hydroplaning even worse.
Don't sit idle — If you're parked or stuck in a huge traffic jam, simply turn off your engine. Idling burns unnecessary fuel and can cause undue engine wear.
Before you begin your daily commute or pack up the car for your next road trip, keep these tips in mind to save more at the pump and enjoy a more comfortable ride along the way.