Nine easy steps to holding down fuel costs

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By Bob Difley

In an article in the Financial Edge newsletter from Investopedia.com, Jean Folger points out these nine effective ways to increase your gas mileage by driving more efficiently.

This can be even more timely and important as projections for fuel prices appear to be on the rise. And as events from 2017 remind us, unexpected “outside” events and forces of nature can dramatically alter the fuel price landscape overnight. 

1. Go easy on the pedals
Speeding, braking and rapid acceleration waste gas. Depending on the type of vehicle, these driving habits can negatively affect fuel economy from between 5% and 33%. Based on current prices for gasoline, conservative use of the pedals can lead to gas savings of between 16 cents and $1.03 per gallon.


2. Slow down
Above 60 mph, gas efficiency decreases. According to fueleconomy.gov, for every five miles per hour that exceeds 60 mph, drivers pay an equivalent of about 24 cents more for each gallon of gas. While each vehicle has its own optimal speed, speeding can result in 7% to 23% reduced fuel economy. Driving at slower speeds can save 21 to 71 cents per gallon.

3. Leave extras at home
How many of us drive overloaded motorhomes or pull crammed trailers and fivers? Get rid of the extra bulk and save fuel.

4. Use cruise control (when appropriate)
According to Edmunds.com, using cruise control under appropriate conditions (avoid it during especially hilly terrain) can improve fuel economy by up to 14%. That’s a savings of about 43 cents per gallon.

5. Turn off the car
Idling gets zero mph and collectively consumes several billion gallons of fuel per year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The California Energy Commission (CEC) advises that vehicles should be turned off if the expected wait will be longer than 10 seconds, since an idling vehicle can burn as much as one gallon of gas each hour. Turning the car off can save about 5 cents per minute.

6. Check tire pressure
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 1.25 billion gallons of gasoline – approximately 1% of total consumption – are wasted each year on underinflated tires. Tires can lose about 2 pounds per square inch (psi) per month. Each tire that is underinflated by 10 psi reduces fuel economy by about 3.3%. Four tires that are underinflated by 10 psi, then, would reduce a vehicle’s fuel economy by a substantial 10% at an added cost of 31 cents per gallon.

7. Replace spark plugs
The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence indicates that bad spark plugs can decrease fuel economy by up to 30%, and can cost drivers up to about 94 cents per gallon at today’s prices. If a car’s gas mileage suddenly drops, there’s a good chance it’s because of misfiring spark plugs.

8. Check alignment
Misaligned tires drag instead of roll freely. Improper alignment can reduce fuel efficiency by as much as 10% – about 31 cents per gallon and can wear out more quickly. Tires that are out of balance (symptom: vibration in the steering wheel) can cause uneven tire wear, which can result in lower gas mileage.

9. Fill your tank early in the morning or late at night
Fuel is dispensed by volume. If you fill your tank when it is coolest outside – early in the morning or late at night, and avoid the heat of the day, the fuel will be more dense. As a result, you will get more gas for the same amount of money.

You can find Bob Difley’s RVing e-books on Amazon Kindle.

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Alex
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Alex

I was in the US Air Force for my first tour in the military. The aircraft I worked on were fueled at night and by midday the next day vent lines on the planes would spill out 1 or two gallons where we had to hose the area down daily. I used that info for filling my car during the night instead of during the day to save money.

Shirley
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Shirley

I looked up the last point #9 on Snopes. Below is their posting on the matter: MIXTURE Example:   [Collected via e-mail, October 2007] I’ve been in petroleum pipeline business for about 31 years, currently working for the Kinder-Morgan Pipeline here in San Jose, CA. We deliver about 4 million gallons in a 24-hour period from the pipe line; one day it’s diesel, the next day it’s jet fuel and gasoline. We have 34 storage tanks here with a total capacity of 16,800,000 gallons. Here are some tricks to help you get your money’s worth: 1. Fill up your car… Read more »

Tommy Molnar
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Tommy Molnar

“The California Energy Commission (CEC) advises that vehicles should be turned off if the expected wait will be longer than 10 seconds”.

No way in Hell am I turning off the engine at a stop light! Road construction, yes. Almost anything coming out of CA is nuts. Just sayin’.

Rory
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Rory

I agree with not turning your engine off for 10 second delays, but for a different reason. It seems logical, that it will take more fuel to start up after a 10 sec delay then you will save. If you are in traffic delayed for say an accident and you will not be moving for some time, then turn it off. But for for a traffic signal, that seems a little ridiculous……..

JRW
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JRW

Would $4 gas and $5 diesel slow RV purchases and filling of campsites? Would that slowdown increase QC?

Rory
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Rory

Slowing down the production has nothing to do wit whether or not a manufacturer is willing to allocate the resources for for better Quality control. If they are not doing it now, with maximzed profits, what makes you think that decreased profits will encourage them to build better rigs. They will simply take their profits and run.

Robert Pulliam
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Robert Pulliam

I agree with all the gas saving points but the last one, that used to be true when underground tanks were simply steel tanks buried underground. Today tanks are made with double wall insulated material the will not rust out and being double wall construction they are somewhat immune to temperature swings so the fuel will remain constantly the same temperature. A larger concern should be hot fuel as the fuel delivered to the filling station is generally hotter than ambient temperature which makes the fuel expand and after its inside you tank it cools then you have significantly less… Read more »