Driving tips to save on fuel now
Fuel costs are like death and taxes; they’re going to happen no matter what you do. And you have no control over them.
Case in point, in May, the average price per gallon of gasoline was $2.95 according to the Energy Information Association (EIA). And, unfortunately, gas prices are expected to stay that way over the summer driving season due to such factors as production cuts, increase in fuel use, required summer formulation, etc.
From April through September, the EIA forecasts U.S. regular gasoline prices to average $2.90 per gallon, up from an average of $2.41 per gallon last summer. With fuel accounting for 32% to 44% of a fleet vehicle’s total cost of ownership, a $.50 difference can make a huge impact on your fuel expenses.
Knowing you have no control over the price at the pump,
Here are some tips from www.fueleconomy.gov to implement and start saving today:
Don’t be aggressive – Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes gas. It can lower your gas mileage by roughly 15% to 30% at highway speeds and 10% to 40% in stop-and-go traffic. Sensible driving is also safer for you and others, so you may save more than gas money.
Fuel economy benefit: 10%–40%
Equivalent gasoline savings: $0.29–$1.15/gallon
Obey the speed limit – While each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed (or range of speeds), gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds higher than 50 mph. You can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 50 mph is like paying an additional $0.20 per gallon for gas. Added bonus: observing the speed limit is safer.
Fuel economy benefit: 7%–14%*
Equivalent gasoline savings: $0.20–$0.40/gallon* (assumes $2.87 per gallon)
Avoid heavy hauls on your roof – Hauling cargo on your roof like that 12-foot 60-pound kayak for lake weekends increases aerodynamic drag (wind resistance) and lowers fuel economy. A large, blunt roof-top cargo box, for example, can reduce fuel economy by around 2% to 8% in city driving, 6% to 17% on the highway, and 10% to 25% at Interstate speeds (65 mph to 75 mph). Rear-mount cargo boxes or trays reduce fuel economy by much less—only 1% or 2% in city driving and 1% to 5% on the highway. If you need to use an external cargo container, removing it when it’s not in use will save fuel and money.
Fuel economy benefit: 2%–17%
Equivalent gasoline savings: $0.06–$0.49/gallon
Get rid of your extra baggage – Avoid keeping unnecessary items in your vehicle, especially heavy ones (like the bowling ball for your Wednesday-night league). An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle can reduce your MPG by about 1%. The reduction is based on the percentage of extra weight relative to the vehicle’s weight and affects smaller vehicles more than larger ones.
Fuel economy benefit: 1%/100 lbs.
Equivalent gasoline savings: $0.03/gallon
Don’t sit idly by – Idling can use a quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour, depending on engine size and AC use. I feel like this is the easiest one to do. But it’s simple – turn off your engine when your vehicle is parked. When you idle, you are getting negative MPG! It only takes about 10 seconds worth of fuel to restart your vehicle.
Fuel cost savings: $0.01–$0.02/min. (AC off); $0.02–$0.03/min. (AC on)
Tune up your engine – Fixing a car that is noticeably out of tune or has failed an emissions test can improve its gas mileage by an average of 4%, though results vary based on the kind of repair and how well it is done. Fixing a serious maintenance problem can improve your mileage by as much as 40%!
Fuel economy benefit: 4%
Equivalent gasoline savings: $0.11/gallon
Keep tires inflated properly – You can improve your gas mileage by 0.6% on average—up to 3% in some cases—by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by about 0.2% for every 1 psi drop in the average pressure of all tires. And properly inflated tires are safer and last longer. Note: The proper tire pressure for your vehicle is usually found on a sticker in the driver’s side door jamb or the glove box and in your owner’s manual. Do not use the maximum pressure printed on the tire’s sidewall.
Fuel economy benefit: 0.6%
Equivalent gasoline savings: $0.02/gallon
Use the right motor oil – You can improve your gas mileage by 1% to 2% by using the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil. For example, using 10W-30 motor oil in an engine designed to use 5W-30 can lower your gas mileage by 1% to 2%. Using 5W-30 in an engine designed for 5W-20 can lower your gas mileage by 1% to 1.5%.
Fuel economy benefit: 1%–2%
Equivalent gasoline savings: $0.03–$0.06/gallon
Windows or AC? That is the question – Using windows or AC to cool your vehicle in the summer has been an ongoing argument. But the answer has finally come out: there is a time and place for each. Running your car’s AC is the main contributor to reduced fuel economy in hot weather. Its effect depends on several factors, such as the outside temperature, humidity and intensity of the sun. Under very hot conditions, AC use can reduce a vehicle’s fuel economy by more than 25%, particularly on short trips. So limit its use to highway speeds.
However, driving with your windows down can also reduce fuel economy. Open windows increase aerodynamic drag (wind resistance), making your vehicle use more energy to push through the air. So only roll the windows down at lower speeds.
Because most of these tips would need to be carried out by your drivers, why not share this tip sheet with them? And if you need help with your fuel strategy to further reduce your costs, please reach out to us.