As gas prices remain unstable and hover around $4 a gallon, many Bay Area residents are seeking to cut down on their fuel costs.
The easiest, and by far the most effective, way to save money on gas is to leave your car in the garage and walk or bike. If your destination is too far for either of these methods, carpooling cuts fuel costs in half and saves wear and tear on your car. Public transportation saves money as well as eliminates the hassle of looking for a parking spot or paying for parking.
Knowing what kind of gas mileage your car gets is vital toward cutting costs and ensuring that each full gas tank is used to its full potential. There are two ways to obtain the ever-important miles per gallon statistic.
The first (and easiest) method is to visit www.fueleconomy.gov to find out the average city and highway miles per gallon of your car model.
The second method is a bit more involved: The next time you fill up your tank, record the odometer reading and reset your trip gauge to zero. Then record the number of miles you drove between fill-ups and divide that number by the quantity of gas you last purchased.
If you don’t like what you’re getting or just want to make each trip to the gas station count, there are many ways you can save fuel.
• Slow down. According to the Car Care Council, there is an aerodynamic drag on every car at 70 mph that equates to double the drag on a car driving at 50 mph. Slowing down can increase gas mileage, as each increasing mile per hour over 60 costs an additional 10 cents per gallon.
• Drive patiently. Tailgating or attempting to pass everyone on the road tends to cause you to brake hard and accelerate quickly. The habit is dangerous and rude – and it can lower gas mileage by 33 percent on the highway and 5 percent in the city, which could cost anywhere between 7 and 49 cents per gallon.
• Avoid idling. You get zero miles per gallon out of your car if it’s just sitting there. Idling burns more gas than restarting the engine, puts additional wear and tear on it and contributes to toxic and carbon emissions.
• Minimize use of air conditioning. Keeping the air conditioner low – or off – reduces fuel consumption 20 percent. Use the air conditioner to cool off the car, then turn it off and use the car’s air vents to circulate the cool air.
• Travel smart. Use trunk space whenever possible. Roof racks, carriers and trailers increase wind resistance and lower fuel economy. Carrying any item weighing more than 100 pounds also reduces the vehicle’s fuel efficiency by 2 percent per item.
• Properly inflate tires. Properly inflated tires will last longer and improve gas mileage by 4 percent. Check tire pressure (including the spare) every month.
• Park efficiently. Parking in a location central to your errands and walking between destinations can halve your fuel consumption when compared to short stop-and-go trips.
• Check gas caps and air filters. Loose, damaged or missing gas caps nationwide cause 147 gallons of gas to vaporize every year. Replacing a dirty air filter improves gas mileage by 5-10 percent.
• Get it serviced. Failed sensors, damaged spark plugs and dirty engines can be major contributors when it comes to increasing fuel costs. Ensuring that your vehicle is in good condition is an easy way to save money in the long run.
• Don’t top off at the pump. When the gas pump turns off, don’t try to add more gas to even the dollar amount. The majority of newer cars simply don’t have room for more gas, so whatever you pump will likely end up on the ground. During warm weather, fuel can also expand and overflow, so be especially conscious during the summer months.
The Town Crier adapted this article from information provided by Marty’s Motors, 10929 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. For more information, call (510) 235-6000.