Q. It does not look as if the gas prices will ever fall below the $3.00 mark again. I am planning a vacation with my family and I’ll be driving a couple of hundred miles. How can I make sure that I am getting the best gas mileage possible out of my vehicle? J.W. Ottsville
A. Everyone should try to implement strategies to help improve fuel mileage. Whether you drive a company car or the family wagon, the following tips can prove effective in bettering your vehicle’s mileage.
- Keep the vehicle properly serviced and tuned. Depending on driving conditions (in-town or highway), service needs will vary accordingly. Spark plugs, air cleaners, PVC valves and proper oil viscosity are items that need regular attention.
- Proper tire inflation is critical for optimizing fuel and tire mileage. Over-inflation can adversely affect tire wear and traction and under-inflation will decrease fuel mileage and tire wear and can cause overheating and tire failure. Keep tires inflated to the manufacturer’s specifications and check tire pressure at least twice a month. Don’t forget to check that spare!
- Driving conditions can certainly adversely affect gas mileage, however, your driving techniques can help improve your mileage. Accelerate smoothly and evenly, and when possible, remove your foot from the accelerator and coast up to the next light. Both rapid acceleration and hard braking waste a large amount of fuel.
- Today’s vehicles perform best at the 55 to 60 mph range. Driving 75 mph as compared to 55mph can lower mileage by up to twenty percent.
Use cruise control whenever possible. This smooth and steady application of power can substantially increase highway mileage, especially on long trips.
- Do not let the engine idle for periods of over about one minute. Newer fuel injected engines do not require a warm-up period.
- When-ever possible, reduce air conditioner use. Typically, air conditioner use will re-duce your mileage by about ten percent. One caveat however: at highway speeds it may be more efficient to operate the air conditioner than to drive with the windows open, creating serious drag.
- Do not carry unnecessary tools, gear, etc. in the trunk or cargo area. Additional weight not only requires more fuel to move the vehicle, it also requires substantially more braking power to stop.
If you drive 15,000 miles per year, which is about average, saving 10 percent could result in a substantial bonus. Following these few guidelines will not only save you money, they can give you an added edge on safety.
*While you are traveling, you may want to take advantage of online sites that post up to the date gas prices where you are as another way to save on fuel.*