By Kris McDowell
With gas prices at record levels it’s a good idea to take steps to increase your gas mileage. For over 100 years, AAA has been helping travelers and their website (aaa.com) reminds drivers that, “The way you drive directly affects your fuel economy. Follow these tips to get better gas mileage. You just may make fewer gas station stops and save money too.”
Plan your trips
Map a route before you go to minimize unnecessary turnarounds and backtracking. Avoid peak traffic times. Combine errands and go to “one stop shops” where you can do multiple tasks (banking, shopping, etc.).
Watch your speed
Fuel economy peaks at around 50 mph on most cars, then drops off as speeds increase. Reducing highway speeds by 5-10 mph can increase fuel economy 7-14 percent.
Avoid “jack rabbit” starts, rapid acceleration and hard braking, which can lower fuel economy by 15-30 percent at highway speeds and 10-40 percent in stop-and-go traffic.
Avoid excessive idling
A car engine consumes one quarter to one half gallon of fuel per hour when idling, but a warm engine only takes around 10 seconds worth of fuel to restart. Where safe to do so, shut off your engine if you will be stopped for more than a minute.
Avoid rush hour
Take advantage of flex work hours to avoid commuting during peak traffic times.
Anticipate road conditions
Watch the traffic ahead and “time” stoplights to maintain momentum and avoid unnecessary stop and go.
Use cruise control
Driving at a consistent speed on the highway saves gas. However, never use cruise control on slippery roads as it could cause a loss of vehicle control.
Shift gears efficiently
If your car has a manual transmission, upshift as soon as practical. When coming to a stop, use the brakes. Do not downshift to slow the car.
Drive to warm the engine
In cold temperatures, start the engine and then drive the car normally to warm the engine. Driving brings the engine to operating temperature more rapidly and thus, saves gas.