Transportation

Minimize vehicle use

1. Bike and walk whenever you can! You’ll be healthier, save money, and reduce environmental problems caused by vehicle use. (See http://www.bikewalk.org/index.php.)

2. Plan and combine trips. Combining errands into one trip saves you time and money. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer multipurpose trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm. Trip planning ensures that traveling is done when the engine is warmed-up and efficient. With a little planning, you can avoid retracing your route and reduce the distance you travel as well. You’ll not only save fuel, but also reduce wear and tear on your car. (From http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/planning.shtml.)

3. If you can stagger your work hours to avoid peak rush hours, you’ll spend less time sitting in traffic and consume less fuel. (From http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/planning.shtml.)

4. If you own more than one vehicle, drive the one that gets the best gas mileage whenever possible. From http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/planning.shtml.)

5. Consider telecommuting (working from home) if your employer permits it. (From http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/planning.shtml.)

6. If possible, take advantage of carpools and ride-share programs. You can cut your weekly fuel costs in half and save wear on your car if you take turns driving with other commuters. Many urban areas allow vehicles with multiple passengers to use special High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes. (From http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/planning.shtml.)

7. Consider using public transit if it is available and convenient for you. The American Public Transit Transportation Association has links to information about public transportation in your state. (From http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/planning.shtml.)

8. A roof rack or carrier provides additional cargo space and may allow you to meet your needs with a smaller car. However, a loaded roof rack can decrease your fuel economy by 5 percent. Reduce aerodynamic drag and improve your fuel economy by placing items inside the trunk whenever possible. Avoid carrying unneeded items, especially heavy ones. An extra 100 lbs in the trunk reduces a typical car’s fuel economy by 1-2 percent. (From http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/planning.shtml.)

Driving practices

9. Shut off and restart your vehicle rather than leaving it running if you are waiting somewhere for more than about 10 seconds. Frequent restarting has little impact on engine components such as the battery and starter motor. Component wear caused by restarting the engine is estimated to add $10 per year to the cost of driving, money that will likely be recovered several times over in fuel savings from reduced idling. 10 seconds of idling uses more fuel than restarting the engine. (From http://www.best.bc.ca/programsAndServices/Idlefree/Myths.htm.)

10. Do not idle your car for long periods to warm it up. Idling is not an effective way to warm up your vehicle, even in colder weather. The best way to warm up your vehicle to drive. With today’s modern engines, you need no more than 30 seconds of idling on winter days before starting to drive. Excessive idling can actually damage your engine’s components, including cylinders, spark plugs and the exhaust system. That’s because an idling engine is not operating at its peak temperature, which means that fuel combustion is incomplete. This leaves fuel residues that can condense on cylinder walls, where they can contaminate oil and damage engine components. For example, fuel residues tend to deposit on spark plugs. As the amount of engine idling increases, the average plug temperature drops and plug fouling is accelerated. This can increase fuel consumption by 4 to 5 percent. Excessive idling can also allow water to condense in the vehicle’s exhaust, which can lead to corrosion and reduce the life of the exhaust system. (From http://www.best.bc.ca/programsAndServices/Idlefree/Myths.htm.)

11. Drive sensibly. Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes gas. It can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and by 5 percent around town. Sensible driving is also safer for you and others, so you may save more than gas money. (From http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/driveHabits.shtml.)

12. Observe the speed limit. While each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed (or range of speeds), gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. As a rule of thumb, you can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.20 per gallon for gas. Observing the speed limit is also safer. (From http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/driveHabits.shtml.)

13. Remove excess weight from your vehicle. Avoid keeping unnecessary items in your vehicle, especially heavy ones. An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could reduce your MPG by up to 2%. The reduction is based on the percentage of extra weight relative to the vehicle’s weight and affects smaller vehicles more than larger ones. (From http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/driveHabits.shtml.)

14. Use cruise control. Using cruise control on the highway helps you maintain a constant speed and, in most cases, will save gas. (From http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/driveHabits.shtml.)

Vehicle maintenance

15. Keep your engine properly tuned. Fixing a car that is noticeably out of tune or has failed an emissions test can improve its gas mileage by an average of 4 percent, though results vary based on the kind of repair and how well it is done. Fixing a serious maintenance problem, such as a faulty oxygen sensor, can improve your mileage by as much as 40 percent. (From http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/maintain.shtml.)

16. Check and replace air filters regularly. Replacing a clogged air filter can improve your car’s gas mileage by as much as 10 percent. Your car’s air filter keeps impurities from damaging the inside of your engine. Not only will replacing a dirty air filter save gas, it will protect your engine. (From http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/maintain.shtml.)

17. Keep tires properly inflated. You can improve your gas mileage by around 3.3 percent by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.4 percent for every 1 psi drop in pressure of all four tires. Properly inflated tires are safer and last longer. (From http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/maintain.shtml.)

18. Use the recommended grade of motor oil. You can improve your gas mileage by 1-2 percent by using the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil. For example, using 10W-30 motor oil in an engine designed to use 5W-30 can lower your gas mileage by 1-2 percent. Using 5W-30 in an engine designed for 5W-20 can lower your gas mileage by 1-1.5 percent. Also, look for motor oil that says “Energy Conserving” on the API performance symbol to be sure it contains friction-reducing additives. (From http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/maintain.shtml.)

Vehicle choice

19. When you’re in the market for a new(er) vehicle, choose the most effient model that meets your needs. Http://www.fueleconomy.gov has gas mileage estimates and more information for 1985-2007 model year cars. Selecting which vehicle to purchase is the most important fuel economy decision you’ll make. The difference between a car that gets 20 MPG and one that gets 30 MPG amounts to $663 per year (assuming 15,000 miles of driving annually and a fuel cost of $2.65). That’s $3,313 extra in fuel costs over five years! Most Fuel-Efficient 2007 Model Year Vehicles (From http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/choosing.shtml.)

20. Consider a plug-in electric vehicle for around-town use if your family needs more than one vehicle, and you don’t need long-distance range. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neighborhood_electric_vehicle for discussion and links to manufacturers.)

21. Consider purchasing a clean diesel vehicle as they come on the market. Diesel-powered models typically get 25 to 40% better mileage than comparable gasoline-powered models. For this reason, diesels make up about 50% of new passenger vehicle sales in Europe, where fuel is much more expensive. (See http://www.dieselforum.org/where-is-diesel/cars-trucks-suvs/diesels-for-sale-in-the-us/.)