How to Reduce Fuel Consumption

March 7, 2012

There are many different ways to reduce fuel consumption. Some are small changes in driving habits, others involve simple maintenance tips.

With the seemingly ever rising prices of diesel and gasoline, engine fuel consumption is a concern for most drivers on the road these days. Because the price at the pump is affecting more people every day, many are looking for ways to cut consumption and costs. This article will discuss tips to minimize fuel consumption.

13 Tips to Reduce Fuel Consumption

Here are 13 tips concerning how you drive, what you have in your car, and maintenance issues that let you get as much bang for every buck you spend on fuel.

  • Drive only when needed. The best way to reduce the fuel consumption is to simply drive your car less. Drive your car only when you really need to. If you only need to travel a few blocks, consider walking or even riding a bicycle. Not only will you save money at the pump, the exercise will certainly do you some good
  • Make sure the gas cap is on tight. One reason you may not be getting the mileage you expect is because there isn't as much gas in your tank as you think. 147 million gallons of gas were lost last year due to evaporation. Why did it evaporate? The gas cap was not on tight. So just make sure it is tight, and it will enable you to keep all the gas you pay for
  • Avoid idling. When you do need to drive your car, make sure you avoid idling whenever possible. When your car is running, but not moving, your gas mileage is absolute zero. So if your car will remain stationary for more than a minute or so, switch the engine off. However, only do this when it is safe to do so
  • Accelerate and break steadily. While driving, always apply steady and consistent pressure to your car's accelerator pedal. A heavy foot will always result in reduced gas mileage and poor fuel consumption
  • Drive the speed limit. Always try to drive at or near the speed limit. The optimal traveling speed for every make and model vehicle is different. However, the faster you drive, the worse your gas mileage and fuel consumption will be. Drive as fast as you need to in order to maintain a safe driving speed. But, save highway driving speeds for the highway and not around town
  • Coast when possible. Constantly accelerating and braking only wastes fuel and reduces your car's fuel consumption. So, whenever possible, coast and avoid burning excess fuel. This takes a little practice, but can be a great way to increase the fuel economy of your vehicle
  • Use cruise control on the highways. Cruise control means that your car will be going at a constant velocity, which means there is no acceleration. No acceleration reduces the amount of work your engine does, and therefore it uses less gas. You should set your cruise control at the speed limit, because 55 miles per hour is the perfect speed for maximum fuel efficiency
  • Make your car more aerodynamic. You can do so by removing the roof racks on top of the car, and also by decreasing the weight of the car by taking out unneeded items
  • Keep the windows closed. The more aerodynamic your vehicle remains, the better your car's fuel efficiency. Keeping your windows down while driving creates more drag and wind resistance for your automobile. If you are driving at speeds of less than 35 mph, it is usually okay to keep the windows down. However, at higher speeds, you should keep the windows up order to reduce drag and improve fuel consumption
  • Minimize air conditioning. There will be times, of course, when summer heat will cause you to use the air conditioning system. However, use the AC in moderation. If you need to choose between keeping your windows rolled down or using the AC at high speeds, use the air conditioning on a low setting
  • Replace dirty air filters. Dirty air filters cause your car's engine to work much harder than it has to and always results in poor fuel economy. So, make sure you follow the manufacturer's recommendation for periodically changing out the air filter. A clean air filter allows your engine to perform more efficiently and also helps you save money at the pump
  • Maintain proper tire inflation. Check your car owner's manual and always ensure your tires are inflated to the proper air pressure level. Improperly inflated tires can reduce your car's fuel economy by up to five percent in some cases. This is quite simply a complete waste of fuel and money
  • Reduce weight in the vehicle. Get rid of any unnecessary items in your car's trunk or other areas of the vehicle. For every 100 pounds of weight in the vehicle, your car's fuel economy decreases by about one or two percent. By making sure your vehicle remains as light as possible, you can improve the fuel consumption of your vehicle and save money on your fuel bill

5 Key Maintenance Issues That Cause Reduced Gas Mileage

Often times, there are some problems with your car that cause you to have reduced gas mileage. There are five key issues that you can have your mechanic look at in order to fix your mileage problem. These issues stem from:

  • Spark plugs
  • Air filters
  • Oxygen sensors
  • Fuel injection systems
  • Tires

These problems as a whole can be the biggest combined reason as to why your car is using up a lot of fuel, while not putting out a far distance. The air filters are most important because clogged air filters can reduce gas mileage by up to 20%. The tires are something easy that you can do yourself, but that will also be the lowest increase at 3-5%. If you implement a lot of these subsequent tips, these percentages add up quickly.

5 Shocking Fuel Consumption Statistics

The rate of fuel consumption currently going on throughout the world is quite alarming. Fuel consumption rates, along with carbon emissions, are off the chart. Here are a few statistics that underscore some of these alarming trends:

  • Since 1970, the world's use of fuel has more than doubled. This includes everything from cars, oil usage, factories, planes, etc.
  • Almost 100 million barrels a DAY are being produced all around the world. Oil is a nonrenewable resource, and conservative estimates show that within the next 20 years, that the production will be a third of what it is today. That is why it is important that clean fuel and alternate fuel substances are developed in this time
  • North Americans consume almost nearly three times the amount of fuel as other consumers in the world
  • The United States alone uses up about 25% of the oil every day, which is about 21 million barrels per day. China is next at 9%, but then there is a drop off. Unless renewable energy is found, this level of consumption cannot be sustained
  • Over the past 60 years, carbon emissions have gone off the chart as well. Carbon emissions have gone from 1000 million metric tons of carbon to now over 7000 million metric tons of carbon per year

Where to Find the Latest Fuel Consumption Figures

Consumers wanting to know fuel consumption figures from a factual, objective source can find reliable information at FuelEconomy.gov. The site is a joint effort between the United States Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (DOE) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The site provides consumers with pertinent information on fuel economy and up to date MPG information to help people make informed and educated choices when purchasing an automobile. Additionally, it provides resources that help car owners achieve the best possible fuel economy for their vehicles. Under the Energy Policy Act of 1992, the DOE and the EPA are charged with the task of providing this information and education to the American consumer.

Some of the benefits and useful information fueleconomy.gov provides are:

  • A downloadable fuel economy guide for MPG estimates including numbers on diesel fuel consumption, ethanol and hybrid cars
  • Information on tax breaks for alternative fuel vehicles and hybrid cars
  • Ratings for greenhouse gas and other air pollution scores
  • Energy impact scores for cars (in terms of consumption of petroleum)
  • EPA fuel economy ratings for trucks and passenger cars from 1985 to the present
  • Vehicle maintenance and driving tips for optimal vehicle fuel consumption
  • Ability to perform a search on vehicles and compare ratings side-by-side
  • Education and information about new technology, and partnership initiatives like Clean Cities

Information posted on FuelEconomy.gov is essential to making the best decisions on how to spend your hard earned dollar, whether its for a specific make or model of a vehicle to what type of fuel you purchase, to how you maintain and drive your car on the road. Today, purchasing a car isn't just about transportation and getting from point A to point B, it's a reflection of responsibility, personal choice and the tough trade-offs that consumers make every day in their spending. Consulting with a site like this is crucial, not only to informing yourself on vehicle fuel consumption, but also to what's going on in the world as it pertains to the transportation industry and the economy.

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