EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

June 9, 2013

Reduce fuel use to save cash and help the planet

Metro News
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Reducing fuel costs is foremost on the minds of many drivers. Myriad costs are associated with owning an automobile, many of which are within a driver’s control. For instance, safe drivers are likely to spend less on auto insurance than drivers with a history of traffic violations or accidents, while drivers who purchase a vehicle with a high safety rating will likely spend less to insure that vehicle than they would a sports car.

One of the costs associated with driving that some drivers may mistakenly feel is beyond their control is the cost of fuel. Drivers might not be able to control the price at the pump, but there are many ways drivers can spend less on fuel, helping them save money and helping the environment along the way.

Emphasizing efficiency

Making a vehicle more efficient is a great way to save money at the pump. But drivers don’t need to get under the hood or have a mechanic’s understanding of automobiles to make their cars more efficient. In fact, a few minor adjustments is all it takes to make a car more efficient and save drivers, regardless of their mechanical inclinations, money at the filling station.

Adequately inflate tires.

Tires that are not properly inflated increase drag on a vehicle, which then consumes more fuel to operate at full capacity. Check the driver’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure, and check the tire pressure frequently to ensure your car isn’t working harder than it needs to be.

Clear out the trunk.

A car filled with clutter is carrying unnecessary weight, making it harder for the car to accelerate and consuming more fuel than it should be. Clear out the trunk and anything inside the vehicle that you don’t need.

Open the windows at lower speeds.

Air conditioning consumes lots of fuel, and many auto experts suggest rolling down the windows when driving at lower speeds. When you begin driving a little faster, roll the windows up and turn on the air conditioning to reduce drag.

Spend wisely

How you’re spending at the pump can also help you reduce fuel consumption and save you money.

* Fill ‘er up! Many drivers avoid filling up their tank when visiting the gas station for fear that filling up the tank makes the car heavier, decreasing the vehicle’s fuel efficiency as a result. While that may be true, drivers who don’t fill up make more trips to the filling station, and those trips can waste fuel. In addition, when the gas cap is removed from your vehicle, vaporized gas escapes from the tank, so opening the cap more frequently allows more vaporized gas to escape.

* Pay for gas with a card that rewards you with cash for making purchases. While using a cash-back credit card won’t reduce your fuel consumption, it will earn you some money back on your fuel purchases.

* Don’t pay more for fuel your car won’t utilize. Some drivers might feel as though putting a high-octane fuel in their vehicles will improve the vehicle’s performance. But that’s not the case. A high-octane fuel in a car that’s built for a low-octane fuel won’t improve the car’s performance or its gas mileage. Only purchase the fuel the owner’s manual recommends. For many new vehicles, that means 87-octane, or “regular,” fuel, which is typically the most affordable.

Drive wisely

Driving habits can also impact how much fuel you’re consuming. Driving habits can be hard to change, but drivers who start driving with a mind toward safety and reducing fuel consumption can take steps to do just that.

* Don’t accelerate too quickly. Rapid acceleration consumes more fuel. When accelerating, do so gradually. You’ll still get to the same place, but you’ll get there with a lot more fuel.

* Don’t speed. Highway speeds more than 60 miles per hour significantly reduce fuel efficiency. Estimates suggest a car traveling at 60 miles per hour uses 20 percent less fuel than a vehicle traveling at 75 miles per hour. Toxic emissions, including carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides, also increase when vehicles travel more than 60 miles per hour.

Reducing fuel consumption is a goal for environmentalists and drivers alike. There are several ways drivers can help their vehicle consume less fuel and benefit the planet at the same time. SC133961