The term “eco-driving” refers to the energy-efficient use of automobiles. In fact, due to driver demand, car manufacturers are providing drivers with easy-to-use tools that measure driving efficiency. Drivers and manufacturers are both embracing the eco-friendly tools because they help lower C02 emissions and achieve better gas mileage.
However, none of these tools will help drivers that intentionally or unintentionally sabotage their own fuel economy. Examples of driving habits that decrease fuel economy include poor vehicle maintenance and terrible driving habits.
Proven Tips to Increase Gas Mileage
To begin driving your car in a manner that saves fuel, you will need to make a few minor adjustments to your driving habits. Below you will find surefire ways to improve gas mileage.
The less you idle, the better gas mileage you will receive. To make this tip work for you, and your wallet, turn off the engine if you are going to be stopped for more than one minute. Idling can guzzle a 1/4 tank of gas an hour. For vehicles with exceptionally beefy engines, or in vehicles that are blasting the AC while idling, this figure can soar to a 1/2 tank of wasted gas. By turning the engine off, you can save 1 to 4 cents per minute. Keep in mind that there are some moments while driving that you may not want to turn off your engine. For instance, don’t turn off your vehicle at a very long red light, but when you are waiting for your child to get off school, you can certainly turn off the engine safely.
According to Edmunds, forty-six 2012 models are equipped with start/stop systems to help increase fuel economy. By 2016, that figure is estimated to surge to 40 percent of all new vehicles manufactured in the US. Johnson Controls Inc., a company that manufactures the start/stop systems claims these systems will increase fuel economy by 5 to 12 percent.
Anticipate The Road Ahead
When you are driving, stay concentrated on the road. Make sure to listen for engine accelerations, maintaining an appropriate speed and watching how hard you break. Paying attention to these small details will help you naturally correct poor driving habits.
Keep Your Distance
To anticipate changes in traffic flow, make sure to stay at least 3 seconds behind the vehicle directly in front of you. This safe distance will give you plenty of opportunity to react if you need to and enables you to drive at a steady pace.
Observe The Speed Limit
Remember speed limits are put in place for a reason, so it is crucial to follow these posted safety guidelines. Besides being safe, not speeding can help you save money on fuel as well. If you drive 5 mph over sixty mph, you can be wasting up to 31 cents of gasoline. According to fueleconomy.gov, changing this bad driving habit can help you save 27-89 cents a gallon.
When drivers are in a rush, they tend to drive with a combination of harsh braking, speeding and rapid acceleration. This combination can lower gas mileage by 33 percent on the highway and 5 percent in town. By just slowing down and smoothing out your braking and accelerating, you could save anywhere from 20 cents to $1.30. An easy way to make sure you stay calm behind the wheel, even when you are in a rush, is to use your vehicle’s cruise control.
Even if you are driving a car with a manual transmission, you can save gas by shifting sooner. When you drive at a high rpm, or even a moderate rpm, you are using more gas than if you were driving at a low rpm. To help save fuel, get up to your speed faster. Believe it or not, you can even skip a gear or two once in a while to maintain your speed. As a general rule, shift to a higher gear as soon as your vehicle hits 2,000 rpm.
Maintaining Your Car Properly
The most basic thing you can do to improve your fuel economy is to maintain the vehicle. Basic maintenance that will improve your gas mileage include:
Maintaining Optimal Tire Pressure
Checking tire pressure at least once a month. Tire pressure should also be checked before long trips or before the vehicle is driven at high speeds. For the best gas mileage, your tires need to be inflated to the correct pressure. An improperly inflated tire creates rolling resistance, which wastes fuel.
Regular Scheduled Oil Changes
Change your oil on a regular basis. Doing this will help maintain energy efficiency. It is necessary to note that you must use the proper engine oil when adding or changing the oil.
Consider Aerodynamics And Weight
Take the time to prepare for road trips. Don’t drive around with roof racks and boxes on your vehicle if you don’t need them. While they are handy on a long trip, they waste an incredible amount of fuel when not in use. In addition to removing empty luggage carriers, you should also empty your trunk. According to fueleconomy.gov, an extra 100 pounds or so in your vehicle can quickly reduce your fuel economy by 2 percent. To avoid this loss, simply empty your vehicle of everything you do not need.
Applying the above tips to your driving behavior will give you a smoother ride, and allow you to be more eco-friendly to the environment as well.
So, are there changes you can make to drive greener? What are they?
Guest Post Author Bio: T. Brown is an avid car enthusiast and the founder of AutoFoundry, a fast-growing destination site for automotive enthusiasts. He’s currently in the process of restoring a 1986 BMW 325e (E30) to its former glory – with a few modern twists, of course.
I remember that I experimented with doing many of these suggestions just to see how much of a difference it actually made. Doing the same trip each week my gas costs are pretty consistent, but the week I went out of my way to limit my usage we saved about 10% on gas.
I might repeat the experiment this week as I have to fill up tomorrow.
10% is a fair bit to save each week. I would stick with the experiment.
We have a Prius and it has a screen that displays the mpg as we are driving. So we are always trying new techniques or seeing how long we can coast to get optimal mpg!
@Holly: just last week I drove a Toyota Corolla rental car that had a similar mpg display. I loved it! It’s actually fun to try different techniques to keep the mpg figure as high as possible. I think it’s a really great feedback mechanism for promoting “eco-driving.”
@Glen: let us know how the new experiement goes!
Sorry: *experiment 🙂
Carpool! Hubby and I drive together to the train station every day. Mind you, we only have one car, so we don’t really have a choice. 🙂
We carpool too and I love it. Besides the economics it is nice to get that extra time together each day.
My husband is really good at “hyper-miling” the car. I try and follow some of these tips, but I have trouble anticipating lights and knowing when to coast or speed up. I’ll stick with my bike, I think!
We haven’t tried hyper miling yet but I think I want to give it a try. The problem where live is that is seems like there is no pattern or reason to the timing of the lights. Synchronization would make things much easier.
Great tips! My wife and I work from home many days, so there’s not much more we can do to improve gas mileage. 🙂 We have an Altima that does get pretty good gas mileage when we do have to drive.
Ahh, the perks of working at home. Hopefully we will get to that point some day too.
Though I’ve been accused of driving “like an old man,” I follow most of these great tips, and it does save gas. I did an experiment once when my wife (aka ‘leadfoot’) was out of town. We owned two cars, and we each drive one of them. My wife tracks her mileage. While she was away, I drove her car exclusively and carefully tracked my mileage. The result: Driving the same car, I got 22% better gas mileage! Most of the difference had to be due to simple driving habits. They really make a difference!
My hubby calls me the same thing. I am not saying he is right but I probably do have some things to tweak. .lol.
Supposedly, driving at 55mph gives you the best MPG. We wouldn’t mind driving this speed if everyone else in California didn’t drive 70-90 all the time.
lol. That is the trouble…everyone else. We have the same issue you. You can cause an accident if you go to slow.
Another great one is… leave 5 minutes earlier so that you can follow all of the above rules 😀
Here’s another one, pick your road carefully because avoiding traffic helps as well.
Very true. We have our routes to work planned perfectly.
Driving smoothly is the key. Harsh acceleration, braking, cornering (which is acceleration of course as your physics class will have taught you) are all causes of poor fuel consumption. In addition, keeping the windows closed, no excess weight, correct tyre pressures and keeping the car polished can have an effect.
There used to be fuel economy rallys sponsored by Esso ISTR. I don’t think I’ve seen anything about them recently but expert drivers can really squeeze quite a lot more mpg. The most recent stunt was on Top Gear where Clarkson took an Audi A8 diesel from London to Edinburgh return on a single tank of fuel.
The big problem is of course that driving at 40 mph is boring as hell! I’m sure that’s where my fuel economy suffers – the motorway at 80mph (legal limit is 70 in the UK). Ummm……:-)
Well said. I know for us winter makes a difference. We seem to waste so much driving in a grind when the roads get bad. You can’t go fast though or you slide on ice and cause an accident. Haven’t figured out a solution to this.
Lots of great tips here and most I’ve talked about in a post I wrote and do myself. I see so many people in the winter starting their vehicle and letting it sit so the snow will melt and to get it warmed up whilst having a single or double garage. It really gets me going when I see them filled to the top with junk instead of parking their vehicles inside as intended. Those without garages still do the same, idle their cars. It doesn’t only happen at home but at work or when people are out and about. They are not gaining anything it’s actually costing them $$$$. Maintaining our vehicles is crucial and sticking to the speed limit. I have a minute to live! Great Post. Mr.CBB
Well said. I have to admit, I used to be one of those people who let the car warm up and the snow melt. I have broken that habit now though so you would be proud.
My Dad used to tell me if I wanted to increase mpg to use the gas pedal as if there was an egg between your foot and the pedal. I try to keep a safe distance between myself and the car in front of me and maintain my speed. I find I brake less and probably use less fuel.
Interesting analogy your Dad used. I like it. It makes a lot of sense. I try to leave a fair bit of space between cars too, especially in winter when I can slide.