Posted by: fiddlehead | April 5, 2008

Gas saving tips for driving your car or truck.

Tips for saving gas in your car.

Ok, I’ve been noticing a few articles online about saving gas.
None of them have been very complete in my opinion.

I guess I was lucky back when I was in the Navy around 1969 or 70 being stationed in Norfolk, Va and having a girlfriend back home in PA and wanting to see her every chance I could.
I got involved in a carpool of sorts as 3 of us from our ship were heading north every weekend we had off and were in port.

After a few weeks, I got yelled at for driving sporadically and wasting fuel. The owner of the car said to stop pounding the gas pedal and then letting off it everytime I wanted to change speed. He showed me how he conserved fuel by driving with a steady pressure on the pedal and I guess that’s when I started practicing conserving fuel. We eventually started a contest and each person drove from gas station to gas station. Someone kept records and I could see my numbers improving.

Ever since that time, I started looking for ways to improve. I’ve found many. Here are the top 10 that I’ve found important:

1/ Probably the most important is your speed. 50 mph is probably close to the best although that is unsafe on certain highways. But faster than 65 is a definite gas guzzler! This makes back roads sometimes more advantageous than beltways or interstates where the average car is going 70.

2/ Next is probably red lights and stop signs. I hate red lights. Especially the ones that seem to be put up for no reason and go red when there is nobody around. I call them “stupid lights” We are not idiots. We have the technology to put up “smart lights” (the ones that have sensors to tell them when someone is coming the other way or waiting and then set off a timer to change the lights)
I find myself going out of my way to stay away from stupid lights. And I must confess, if I’m at a stupid light and there’s nobody around at all, I go through it. Luckily I haven’t been caught yet but even if I am, I don’t think I’m doing anything unsafe. Yes, there’s stupid stop signs out there too, although these can be more dangerous to run.

If I find myself at a long light, and expect to be there longer than a minute, I shut off the engine. I don’t use my gas pedal when starting my engine and believe that more than a minute is enough to justify shutting it off. Also, what’s with all these people leaving their engine running without even being in their car or truck? Shut it off. And truck stops? How much fuel are they wasting. More than half seem to be left running. I never really understood this concept. Ok, when it’s freezing outside and they are sleeping. I can understand it but wouldn’t do it myself. I have a good sleeping bag and it would probably pay itself off in a few months of shutting down that engine overnight.

3/ Planning ahead! Ok, you’ve got to go pick up your kid from his music lesson or baseball practice. What else can you get done on this trip? Pick up some groceries? Drop off some mail? Stop in and see Mom? THINK! Not only all you can get accomplished but in what order? Make a list in the order that makes the most sense.

4/ Number 3 might cause you to want to fill up at the gas station before you need to. Not a good idea. Weight is another thing that takes away from good gas mileage. And gasoline weighs almost as much as water (8 lbs per gallon). So, don’t top off the tank. Let it run down. Learn your vehicle and when it is going to run out of gas. I once had a van that had 2 gas tanks. I found out that one of them would go 95-100 miles after it hit E (empty) and the other would go about 55-60 miles! This means I was carrying about 4-6 gallons of fuel around when I thought my tank was empty. Of course we don’t like to run out of gas and I’m not suggesting that. Just find out what your gas gauge really means. Maybe take along a gallon and go for a ride someday. Or use your cellphone and have someone help you. Whatever, you might be surprised at what you find.

Also, don’t carry around extra stuff in your car that you don’t need. Extra weight matters!

5/ Streamlined cars and trucks are more efficient. Don’t add a bunch of extra lights, roof racks, ornaments, etc to look cool. Don’t go for the huge mudflaps, they will slow you down also. And, keep your windows closed when you can. Now, I often think about whether I’m being more efficient by running the air-con or opening the windows. Here’s what I’ve decided: If it’s really hot, and you are driving around town, ask yourself if you really need the aircon. Perhaps opening the windows is ok, especially at low speeds (when streamlining isn’t as important) Then, when you get up to speed on the highway, (when streamlining is more important) close the window and put the air-con on low. You can drive more efficiently if you close the window but less efficient with the air-con on, so try to decide which is better at the time.

And keep your car clean. It makes a difference although a small one.

Now, if you are driving a pickup truck and don’t have a cap on the back and are empty, put the tailgate down. I’m sure you’ve seen pickups like this. It works. It saves fuel and is a good habit to get into.

6/ Keep your engine running smooth. A lot of this is from my mechanic but I’ve found that keeping a clean air filter makes a pretty big difference. If they are too expensive to justify a new one every 6 months or so, at least take it out and blow it clean with an air hose. And then replace it every year. Also, spark plugs. I found out that many people never change your spark plugs. At least look at them or have a mechanic check them out from time to time. You may find out that one is bad, or they are brown colored which can mean the mixture is too rich or too lean. Maybe that means a PCV valve needs replacing or something simple. Or they are not gapped correctly. If they are wearing down, they are fairly easy to replace and inexpensive. They can save you a lot in fuel economy! Also, a good set of spark plug wires is important.

There are other mechanical fuel wasting things that could be happening. Have him check your fuel filter, if this is clogged it could slow down efficiency.

So, find a mechanic that you really trust and ask him what other tricks of the trade he knows. I’ve heard of some that use magnets around the coil. Even ice (race cars) around the fuel filter. Hey, some of these things may work. Nowadays most cars are computerized and it’s not easy to change things. But, that doesn’t mean things like switches don’t leak or wear out. If your “check engine” light comes on, have it checked! Oftentimes it’s something that will effect your mileage.

7/ Tire pressure. This is another big one. Driving around on tires that are low, will cause you gas mileage. If you don’t believe that one, go for a ride on a bicycle and take some air out of the tires. Then go put 70 lbs in (if you’re tire will take that much) and go see the difference. Some bikes take over 100 psi! Putting in too much air though is bad for the tires so, look at what’s posted on the tire and keep them checked an inline with recommendations. Also having the proper sized tires is important for your particular car. You can check your book or go online to find out.

8/ Drive smart! Ok, here’s something that I have learned to do that saves gas: Look ahead, and I mean far ahead. Is the light coming up red or green? How far away is it? Can you tell which color it will be by the time you get there? Perhaps laying off the gas now will make no difference in your catching the red light or not, so, why race to the light just to hit your brakes?

I try not to use my brakes unless I have to. That means always looking ahead and slowing down before the 3 cars in front of you slow down. Now I’m not saying take this to extremes and drive unsafe, I’m just saying don’t speed up unnecessarily.

Also, use sense on hills. Watch truckers and learn from them. Do you know why they speed up before a hill? They know that if you have more speed going into the hill, and take the bottom of the hill faster, you will not have to use as much fuel to get over it. Get some momentum when you can.   This means turn off the cruise control on hills.    It will try to maintain a constant speed and that is not what is best here.

Again, don’t break the speed limit, that is both unsafe AND wasteful, but get your speed before the hill. Once you are near the top, then it’s time to slow down and coast if you can. I’ve mastered this technique over the years as I said, we used to have contests and keep score and this is one that helps.

I sure hope that someday cars will be made that can take advantage of the energy being held back when going down a hill, to be used to go up the next one. It must be possible. Probably one of those things that for some reason the car companies have bought the patent and shelved it. Well, time to bring it off the shelf.

I remember a few years ago, I was driving to a show and almost out of gas and realized that there wasn’t any gas stations for a long time. Time to super-conserve! There was one of the biggest hills in our county coming up and I coasted down that hill as much as possible (there were no other cars around) that the cop clocked me at over 100 mph. I knew I was in big trouble but, I couldn’t believe it, when I told him why, he let me off. Drive hills smartly (but stay safe of course)

9/ Do you really need the car to go to the store to pick up that quart of milk? I notice my neighbors getting in their huge diesel pickup to go a block to get the newspaper! Now, I can’t imagine doing that myself but I think it happens a lot. Not only will you save fuel buy you can look at it as a way of dieting if you so desire, or getting back to nature in a way. Even enjoying the scenery. You won’t have road rage when you walk to the grocery store and you won’t have to worry about a parking spot either.

A bicycle is another good idea. Or a small motorbike depending on where you live and the climate. I have a Honda 100 cc motorbike and in the past 2 years, I’ve put about equal mileage on the bike and my car. Also, I jog so can pick up bread and things like that on my way home.

10/ Shop online. Ok postage rates are going up all the time too. But at least online shopping saves you from running around comparing prices, or picking up things across town that might make more sense to either buy closer or online. Again, just be smart. Are you justified in driving 20 minutes and dealing with heavy traffic to save 2.00 on that lb of coffee or can you just pick up coffee close by and get it next week when you will be over there anyway. Or, can you get that long underwear you so desperately need online rather than drive to walmart in the next town to find out that they are out of your size? Just be smart!

Ok, that’s 10 things. I’ve probably forgot some. Maybe you have more suggestions. I’m open to them. And here’s hoping that someone soon is going to come out with the car that can get us all 100 mpg or maybe even not any gas. I’m open-minded to all of the possibilities and am tired of giving my money to oil companies. How about you?

Advertisements

Responses

  1. That’s one of the most complete lists I’ve seen. Thanks for posting it. However, I have a question about number 2 – I have been told that the act of starting the engine uses more petrol than letting the car run idle for a minute or so – so it is better not to keep switching off and starting up if you don’t have to. Is this true?

  2. […] fiddlehead wrote this today. I think it is worth reading. Here is a little snippet:A lot of this is from my mechanic but I’ve found that keeping a clean air filter makes a pretty big difference. If they are too expensive to justify a new one every 6 months or so, at least take it out and blow it clean with an air hose … […]

  3. […] Fiddlehead’s Warmstuff Travels and Pictures wrote an interesting post today on Gas saving tips for driving your car or truck.Here’s a quick excerptOk, you’ve got to go pick up your kid from his music lesson or baseball practice. What else can you get done on this trip? Pick up some groceries? Drop off some mail? Stop in and see Mom? THINK!… […]

  4. My mechanic told me one minute.
    I would imagine it would count on the car.
    I know for mine, i don’t hit the gas pedal but just a quick hit on the ignition key starts my car.

  5. Good Post… In a time when gas prices have eclipsed the $3 mark and continue to climb, fuel-efficient vehicles have seen their stocks rise. With U.S. consumers finally moving away from gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs, smart car , a division of Mercedes Benz, has decided to debut the smart fortwo – a two-person car that measures only 8.8 feet long – in the United States.

  6. Count yourself lucky. Gas prices in the UK today are £1.07 per LITER! That’s equivalent to $9.70 per gallon. We really need to watch what we use!

  7. […] 2 months ago, i posted a blog entry for: Tips for Driving your Car or Truck Check it out for more […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: