"No matter how paranoid or conspiracy-minded you are, what the government is actually doing is worse than you imagine." - - - William Blum

May 29, 2008

As the gas price keeps rising, everything you do to conserve fuel amplifies the savings for your wallet. The Union of Concerned Scientists has some tips for maximizing your mpg:

How you drive and take care of your vehicle affects its fuel economy and emissions levels. Follow these simple tips to reduce the environmental impact of your vehicle today.

Drive less. Driving as little as possible is the best way to reduce the environmental impact of your transportation needs. Link errands, carpool, walk, bike, or use mass transit whenever possible. Choose a place to live that reduces your need to drive. If your family already has one vehicle, consider trying to meet your travel needs without buying a second one.

Drive moderately. High-speed driving and jack-rabbit starts increase both fuel use and emissions.

Keep your vehicle well tuned. Simple maintenance—such as regular oil changes, air-filter changes, and spark plug replacements—will lengthen the life of your vehicle as well as improve fuel economy and minimize emissions.

Check your tires. Keeping your tires properly inflated and aligned saves fuel by reducing the amount of drag your engine must overcome. Also, when it’s time to replace your tires, consider getting a set of low rolling resistance (LRR) tires. Although LRR tires cost slightly more than traditional tire replacements, tires that reduce rolling resistance by 10 percent can improve gas mileage by one to two percent for most passenger vehicles.¹

Keep track of your fuel economy. A drop in your vehicle's fuel economy can be a sign of engine trouble. Keep track of your fuel economy by noting the odometer reading and the number of gallons purchased each time you fill up. To calculate your gas mileage, divide the number of miles traveled between fill-ups by the number of gallons purchased.

Be weight-conscious. Don’t carry around items you don’t need. For every 100 pounds of weight in your vehicle, fuel economy decreases by one to two percent. Also, reduce drag by putting bulky items inside the vehicle or trunk instead of on a roof rack.

Don't let your vehicle idle for more than a minute. During start-up, your engine burns extra gasoline. However, letting your engine idle for more than a minute burns more fuel than turning off the engine and restarting it.

Limit air conditioning, which consumes fuel. At lower speeds, open the windows or sunroof to stay cool. At higher speeds, use your vehicle’s fan as open windows create drag that reduces mileage.

Park in the shade. Minimize evaporation of fuel and keep your vehicle cooler in the summer by parking in the shade.

1. Transportation Research Board (TRB). 2006. Tires and Passenger Vehicle Fuel Economy: Informing Consumers, Improving Performance, TRB Special Report 286. Washington, DC: National Academies. Online at http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/sr/sr286.pdf

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