As the increasing prices of gas show no sign of slowing down, and now more motorists are looking for driving techniques that will save their gas. Some go the extreme and make a sport out of covering the most distance using the least amount of gas possible. The best hypermilers manage to eke out every last bit from each drop of gas and reach hybrid-like figures using ordinary cars. Hypermiling techniques – like drafting big rigs on the freeway – however, are seen by many as dangerous. Not only that, but getting good at them and doing them regularly are far more trouble than what they are worth. Without resorting to drastic measures, the following driving techniques are meant to give you more value for your gas money.
Driving Techniques – Drive Smoothly
Avoid aggressive acceleration, especially when coming from a full stop. It takes much more energy to get a car up to speed than to keep it cruising. Your engine burns more gas as you demand more power. There’s no going around that fact. Those driving diesels should know that these engines hate it when you mash the throttle. That cloud of black smoke you leave behind when doing jackrabbit starts is all unburned diesel. Take a lesson from truck drivers and pull away slowly. By altering your driving habits, you stand to save anywhere from 31 to 37 percent, according to a test done by Edmunds.com. You can drive a whole lot smoother when you learn to anticipate what’s ahead. Toll plaza coming up? Step on the gas just enough to reach it. Traffic building up ahead? No sense in accelerating and braking just a few meters later.
Use Cruise Control
As this feature becomes more and more common, even on entry-level cars, you should get into the habit of using it. Remember the first driving technique in saving gas? By engaging cruise control, your car smoothes out the speed you are traveling in. This eliminates unnecessary cycles of acceleration and deceleration. By not playing with the gas pedal all the time, you travel at the most efficient pace. Just don’t commit the mistake of using it on hilly stretches of roads. Using cruise control on uphills will cause your car to downshift and rev higher, all in an effort to maintain its current speed. And make sure to only use cruise control when safe and legal.
Drive Under the Speed Limit
As you go faster, you subject your car to more air resistance. It’s just the way air works. As you force an object faster through it, it pushes back harder. Those driving boxy family vans and tall SUVs should alter their driving habits to account for this phenomenon. Plus, there’s a practical side to keeping below the speed limit – the law. The cost of just one speeding ticket will undermine all the effort you put into saving gas using other techniques. So stay safe and leave earlier so that you can drive a little slower. This is one of those common driving techniques that people know is a gas guzzler.
Plan Your Trips
Plan your trips and combine a couple of little errands whenever possible. A car is at its most inefficient when just warming up. Frequent short trips not only waste gas, they subject your car to unnecessary wear and tear too. You see, during cold starts, all the oil that is supposed to protect your engine’s internal parts from friction drain to the bottom of the oil pan. For a few seconds, engine parts operate without lubrication and this is bad. Repeat this several times a day and you drastically decrease the life of your car. But also try to avoid excessive idling when doing errands back-to-back. It also wastes a lot of gas. Remember that you get zero mileage when you are not moving – and nothing can be worse than that.
Russell Clause is a contributing writer at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison website. When looking to save money on gas, consider gasoline credit cards that let you earn extra cash back on your next visit to the fuel pump. Remember, when you use the techniques above repeatedly, you hopefully break bad habits. By altering your driving style just a little bit, you get to give your maxed out credit card a rest. And by driving in a more relaxed manner, you get to your destination a little later, but you arrive more refreshed and less stressed-out.
Do you have any driving techniques to save you gas?