Driving green helps the environment and your budget. Here are some tips from EcoDriving.com.
Read Your Owner’s Manual
Tip #1: Your glove compartment holds one of the most important sources of fuel economy information, and it is customized for your model and engine. Your owner’s manual may even have a special section on fuel economy. Typically your owner’s manual will provide a recommended service schedule to keep your vehicle operating efficiently. Today’s automobile is designed to operate for well over 120,000 miles, and many vehicles run much further with proper care.
Use the Recommended Motor Oil
Tip #2: Your vehicle’s engine was designed to use a certain oil quality and viscosity, so check your owner’s manual for the recommended type of motor oil. According to the U.S. EPA, you can improve your fuel economy by 1-2% by using the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil. Motor oil that says “Energy Conserving” contains friction-reducing additives that can provide additional benefits. Get more information from you service provider. Also, make sure you change the oil regularly according to the manufacturer’s recommendation, because degraded motor oil will degrade fuel economy.
Schedule Periodic Engine Tune-ups
Tip #3: To keep your vehicle running at peak performance, visit your auto shop on a regular schedule. Today’s automobile has been called a computer on wheels, and auto mechanics use computer diagnostics to check motor timing, fuel injection, valves, spark plugs and more. Typically, a tune up can improve gas mileage by an average of 4%, but bigger gains could be seen.
Replace Air Filters Regularly
Tip #4: On today’s automobiles, air flow sensors constantly monitor the amount of air ingested by the engine, and fuel is metered accordingly. An air filter that is clogged with dirt or debris can require more fuel to pump air through the filter. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, replacing a clogged air filter can increase your mileage by 10%. How often should you change your air filter? As a general rule, if you can see light through your air filter, you don’t need a new one. But it is always best to consult your owner’s manual to determine the replacement schedule that will produce optimum results for your model of vehicle.
Check Your Tire Pressure Monthly
Tip #5:The Department of Energy estimates that 1.2 billion gallons of fuel were wasted in 2005 as a result of driving on underinflated tires. Tires can deflate naturally, by as much as 1.5 PSI (pounds per square inch) a month. Experts estimate that 25% of automobiles are running on tires with lower than recommended pressure. Fuel efficiency is reduced by 1% for every 3 PSI that tires are under-inflated. So, keeping your tires properly inflated translates into a free tank of gas a year and reduces CO2 emissions too. Check tire pressure at least once a month. The correct tire pressure in PSI can be found on the tire label, usually found on the edge of your door, the door frame or sill. If everyone properly inflated and aligned their tires, we’d save 300 million gallons of gas a year in California alone according to the California Energy Commission.
Check the Weather, then Check Your Tires
Tip #6: Tire pressure changes an average of 1 PSI for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit change in air temperature. So, a sudden cold snap or heat wave may mean it is time to check your tires. Properly inflated tires run cooler, last longer and improve fuel economy. The U.S. EPA estimates that gas mileage can improve by about 3% by keeping tires properly inflated.
Invest in a Tire Pressure Gauge
Tip #7: New autos are now on sale with tire pressure monitoring systems, including a new warning light on your dashboard. These systems will indicate when your tires are under-inflated by 25%, but it is always advisable to check your tires with a tire pressure gauge before you see the warning light. Tire pressure increases when driving, so to get an accurate reading, check your pressure when you haven’t driven for three or more hours.
Reduce Aerodynamic Drag
Tip #8: Remember the tail fins on circa 1950 vehicles? They were beautiful but not very aerodynamic. At highway speeds, about 50% of engine power goes to overcoming aerodynamic drag, according to Consumer Reports. Wind resistance can reduce mileage, so you can maximize your mileage by removing luggage racks, roof-top carriers, and ski racks when they are not needed. Experts at Edmunds.com say that even keeping your car washed and waxed improves aerodynamics. (We recommend Express Auto for this of course!)
Tighten Your Gas Cap
Tip #9: Gasoline evaporates relatively easily, so today’s automobiles have been engineered to significantly reduce evaporative emissions compared to vehicles from the past. But a loose cap can be a quick escape route for gasoline. As much as 30 gallons of gasoline could be lost annually to evaporation when the fuel cap is not fully tightened. Loose, damaged or missing gas caps cause 147 million gallons of gas to evaporate each year, according to the Car Care Council. Your owner’s manual may have good advice because some manufacturers urge drivers to turn their gas caps until they click.
Remove Excess Weight from Your Vehicle
Tip #10: Pull those golf clubs out when not needed. Every pound of extra weight requires your automobile to work harder to move it, and that effort uses fuel. While it is convenient to leave items in your vehicle, weight affects fuel economy and CO2 emissions. An extra 100 pounds in the trunk typically reduces mileage by about 2%.
Maintain Your Air Conditioning System – Professionally
Tip #11: Air conditioning refrigerants can have high global warming potential. Insist on professional service with recovery and recycling so that refrigerant can be reused and not released to the atmosphere. As the refrigerant level decreases, so does the efficiency of the air conditioner. Similarly, too much refrigerant decreases efficiency. Having a professional maintain your air conditioner will maintain optimum performance.
More tips for saving the environment and your budget can be downloaded at www.ecodrivingusa.com, or click here for their Quick Tips.