Acknowledging that gas is more expensive than it used to be, and that some people are kinda freaked out by it, these 10 simple gas-saving tips have been shared by the folks at Ford as part of their push for “eco-driving.” But while the tips are easy-to-follow for most people in everyday driving situations, some of us need to make exceptions. We’ve amended each of Ford’s tips with some damn good reasons why you should ignore them. Hit the jump for more.
1. Slow down and watch speed – Drive 55 miles per hour instead of 65 to save fuel. The EPA estimates a 10-15 percent improvement in fuel economy by following this tip. Also, aim for a constant speed. Pumping the accelerator sends more fuel into the engine. Using cruise control whenever possible on the highway helps maintain speeds and conserve fuel.
Exception: You’re in a hurry because you have places to be and better things to do than drone along in the slow lane, not to mention the speed limit on the highway is 70 MPH and if you did drive 55, you’d likely be paying more to have your rear bumper replaced than you would ever save in fuel costs. [image]
2. Accelerate and brake smoothly – Accelerating smoothly from a stop and braking softly conserves fuel. Fast starts, weaving in and out of traffic and hard braking wastes fuel and wears out some of the car components, such as brakes and tires, more quickly. Maintain a safe distance between vehicles and anticipate traffic conditions to allow for more time to brake and accelerate gradually.
Exception: The idiots on the road during your commute cut you off for no reason, and when you do finally get off the expressway of death, the pedestrians and cyclists in the city are all suicidal maniacs. You’d like to go easy on the brakes and just ram into them, but manslaughter doesn’t appeal to you.
3. No idling – Today’s engines don’t need a warm up. Start the car immediately and gently drive away. Don’t leave your car idling. Prolonged idling increases emissions and wastes fuel. Turn the engine off in non-traffic situations, such as at bank and fast food drive-up windows, when idling more than 30 seconds.
Exception: You car doesn’t have one of these magical “today’s engines.” If you don’t warm it up, you leave a cloud of blue smoke in front of your house so thick that the vegetation in your front lawn dies off.
4. Check your tires – Keep tires properly inflated to the recommended tire pressure. This alone can reduce the average amount of fuel use by 3-4 percent. Under-inflated tires increase rolling resistance and reduce fuel economy. They also wear more rapidly. Check the vehicle’s door-post sticker for minimum cold tire inflation pressure.
Exception: You’re drag racing your muscle car, so you take some pressure out of the rears. Perhaps you’re rock-crawling or sand dune-climbing in your Jeep, so you need to let pressure out of all fours. Maybe your junky old beater won’t go down the road straight unless you’ve got the front left tire 5 PSI lower than the right side.
5. Be kind to your vehicle – Maintain proper engine tune-up to keep vehicles running efficiently. Keep the wheels aligned. Wheels that are fighting each other waste fuel. Replace air filters as recommended. Use a fuel with good detergent additives to keep the vehicle engine clean and performing efficiently. Always consult the Owner’s Manual for proper maintenance.
Exception: Your car is a $500 lump of metal held together by zip-ties and drunken welding. Your idea of proper maintenance is opening up the distributor and taking a blow-dryer to the points on humid days. Your suspension is falling apart, so the alignment varies based on how hard you took that last corner. Your air filter is a piece of wire mesh. It’s not worth it to be nice to this beast.
6. Travel light – Avoid piling a lot of luggage on the roof rack. The added frontal area reduces aerodynamics and will hurt fuel economy, reducing it by as much as 5 percent. Remove excess weight from the vehicle. Unnecessary weight, such as unneeded items in the trunk, makes the engine work harder and consumes more fuel.
Exception: You have 5 people going on a cross-country vacation in your midsize car. On top of that, you’ve decided to go tent camping each night rather than staying in hotels.
7. Minimize use of heater and air conditioning – Use heating and air conditioning selectively to reduce the load on the engine. Decreasing your usage of the air conditioner when temperatures are above 80 degrees can help you save 10-15 percent of fuel. Use the vent setting as much as possible. Park in the shade to keep car cool and reduce the need for air conditioning.
Exception: It’s swelteringly scorching outside and you really don’t want to have your entire back drenched with perspiration, so you need the air conditioning on. Or perhaps it’s numbingly frigid outside and you really don’t want to experience what frostbite is like, so you need the heater on. [image]
8. Close windows at high speeds – Don’t drive with the windows open unless you keep your speed under 50 mph. Driving with the windows open at highways speeds increases aerodynamic drag on the vehicle and lowers fuel economy.
Exception: The air conditioning in your beater has long been broken. The two remaining settings on your climate control are “hot air screaming out of the vents” and “hot air seeping out from the dashboard.” If you don’t open the window, it is only a matter of time before you die of heat stroke. Not to mention that you can’t holla’ at the ladies through a sheet of glass. [image]
9. Choose the right oil – Use good quality, energy-conserving EC oils with the viscosity grade recommended in the Owner’s Manual. Look for cans marked with the symbol ECII, which is the American Society of Testing Materials logo for fuel-efficient oils.
Exception: Your car self-changes its oil by leaking and burning so much that you just pour in a quart of fresh oil every week or so. You save money by buying the cheapest generic oil you can find. Not to mention your car has so many miles that if you use anything thinner than 15W-50, you can practically hear the piston rings grinding, so the viscosity recommended in the manual just won’t cut it.
10. Consolidate trips – Plan ahead to consolidate your trips. This will enable you to bypass congested routes, lead to less idling, fewer start-ups and less stop-and-go traffic. Whenever feasible, share a ride and/or carpool.
Exception: Your hectic schedule is constantly varying from day to day. You have no idea where you’ll be or what you’ll be doing 5 hours from now. You like driving alone by yourself because you need some time each day to regain some sanity. For that matter, sometimes you go out driving for no reason at all, because — gasp — you derive tremendous pleasure from the act of driving.