How much are you really paying to drive? Download »
Bad driving isn’t just unsafe. It’s expensive. Your driving habits have a direct impact on your car’s fuel consumption. Planning your travel, following speed limits, maintaining safe following distances and paying attention to traffic, weather and road conditions will keep you safer, allow your vehicle to operate more efficiently, and ultimately, save you money.
Here are a few ways you can improve your driving to get better gas mileage:
- Accelerate gradually. Avoid jackrabbit starts.
- Anticipate your stops. When approaching a red light, let your foot off the gas as early as possible.
- In summer, drive during cooler parts of the day. Cooler, denser air can boost power and mileage.
- Avoid long warm-ups in the morning. They’re unnecessary and waste fuel.
- Use air conditioning. Today’s air conditioners create less drag on the engine than driving with the windows open.
- Maintain recommended tire pressure. Low pressure reduces fuel economy and can damage tires.
- Keep the air filter clean. Clogged filters reduce fuel economy and increase exhaust emissions.
- Drive the speed limit.
Changing driving behavior will help you use less gas. So will lifestyle changes. You can save a gallon of gas if you cut about 22 miles of driving from your week.
Here are 10 easy ways to save:
- Carpool or use public transit.
- Slow down. If you travel at 60 mph instead of 70 mph on your 20-mile highway commute, you would save about 1.3 gallons of gas in a five-day work week.
- Combine errands. If possible, park in a central spot and walk from place to place.
- Shop online and use online services for banking and paying bills.
- Choose a smaller, fuel efficient car for longer trips.
- Hike or bike. You’ll burn less gas and more calories.
- Work from home, if possible.
- Replace “dinner and a movie” dates with dinner parties. You’ll save the mileage to restaurants and theaters.
- Share school rides by carpooling with neighbors.
- Don’t use your trunk for storage. The heavier your car, the more fuel it uses.
Good maintenance can keep your vehicle on the road for years to come — and keep you safer on the road. Many drivers think maintenance equals oil changes. In fact, most people change oil more often than they need to but don’t rotate their tires as frequently as they should. Proper rotation can add as much as 10,000 miles to the life of a set of tires. There’s more you can do to keep your vehicle operating reliably:
- Keep maintenance records. They can serve as good diagnostic tools and proof you have cared for your vehicle, which can enhance its trade-in or resale value.
- Run your engine for a few minutes before powering up the heater, air conditioner, wipers and other accessories. Accelerating with a cold engine can cause premature engine failure.
- If your vehicle has fuel injection, keep the tank at least one-quarter full. Cornering with a nearly empty tank disrupts the flow to the fuel pump.
- Look for cracks or looseness in engine belts. Broken belts are a major reason for roadside breakdowns.
Use a AAA-approved repair facility for repairs and maintenance. AAA’s Approved Auto Repair network includes more than 7,800 facilities – the largest network in North America. These facilities feature certified mechanics, perform free inspections for AAA members and abide by AAA decisions in service disputes.
Your local AAA club also may be a valuable resource for maintenance help. Many clubs:
- Operate vehicle care centers.
- Offer annual inspections of brake fluid levels, battery connections, lights, belts and hoses by AAA Approved Auto Repair staff.
- Provide mobile battery services, including testing and replacement any time of day or night.
On average, cars driven in America get 22.5 miles to the gallon and are on the road for some 55 minutes and about 29 miles a day. Add the knowledge that about 19 percent of household income is spent on transportation and 65 percent of U.S. households own at least two vehicles, and it becomes clear that how you drive is critical to your financial and physical health, as well as the health of the environment. Here are some tips that can help with all three:
- If you own more than one car– especially if one of your vehicles is a less fuel-efficient truck, sport utility vehicle or van– use the more energy-efficient vehicle as often as possible.
- Consolidate trips and errands to cut down on driving time and keep needless miles off the odometer.
- Avoid quick starts and sudden stops. This wastes fuel and is harder on vehicle components.
- Fuel prices are part of the total cost of vehicle ownership, so fuel conservation should be an important factor when choosing a new car. Consider whether the car, truck or SUV you’re thinking about is bigger and heavier than necessary.
- Compare Environmental Protection Agency fuel-economy labels when shopping for a new vehicle.
AAA publishes a variety of information to help you conserve fuel and be a smart shopper when searching for a new vehicle. For more information on this topic, contact your local AAA club.