It seems like every other day the price of gas goes up and there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason for it. In the past, prices fluctuated based on supply and demand. You expected to pay slightly higher prices during the summer driving season and on major holiday weekends. However, current prices seem to go up when demand is down and go down (only slightly) when demand is up or can go in any direction whenever the stock market has a bad day. The only recourse we have to combat the overall higher oil and gas prices is to change the way we get around. Public service commercials used to focus on defensive driving as a point of interest, now they tell us to save gas. By following some of the techniques used by "hypermilers", (those individuals that have made a sport out of maximizing fuel efficiency by driving in the most fuel efficient manner possible) we can change the way we drive and save some significant cash.
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Plan your trips. Make a list of the places you need to go not only for the day but for the week as well. If you need to go to the grocery store, pharmacy, cleaners, pet store or any other place, try to make all the stops on the same trip. Map out the most efficient route to follow. This can significantly save on the number of miles you drive and lower your fuel usage and therefore save money and also wear and tear on your car.
By following the steps listed below you can also significantly increase your gas mileage and reduce the number of trips to the pump.
- Maintain your vehicle: Changing the engine fluids when recommend, (as oil, transmission fluid and coolant get dirty they become thicker and your engine has to work harder to move them through the engine). Also, keeping the engine tuned properly can dramatically increase vehicle mileage.
- Drive the speed limit: Use your cruise control whenever possible and lower your speed. You could also save money by not getting a speeding ticket by driving slower.
- Avoid jack rabbit starts and stops. The faster you accelerate, the more fuel the engine burns.
- Keep your tires properly inflated. A properly inflated tire generates less resistance making it easier to roll and thus the car burns less fuel. Try using nitrogen instead of air to inflate your tires.
- Turn the A/C off when driving at lower speeds. That is if you can stand the outside temperature. If driving at highway speeds, roll the windows up because it creates less drag.
- Turn your engine off whenever you will be stopped longer than 15 to 20 seconds. You burn more gas idling than restarting your car.
- Reduce the weight of your vehicle. Do not carry excess weight in the trunk or interior.
Check out public transportation. According to the American Public Transportation Association, people that live near public transit drive 27 percent less than people that don't. This can provide a savings of approximately 223 gallons per year.
Investigate whether renting a more fuel efficient vehicle for your summer vacation makes financial sense. Crunch the numbers to see if the cost of the rental is less than the extra amount you would spend on fuel if you used your own vehicle. This can be especially useful for individuals that own SUV's. Hertz, Avis, Enterprise and Budget all rent hybrids and the mileage savings could more than pay for the rental costs and you would not be putting wear and tear on your own vehicle. You could also be helping to save the planet at the same time.
By following some of the techniques used by "hypermilers", we can change the way we drive and save some significant cash in the process.