Maintain More; Brake Less

By Teresa Iqbal

April 3, 2015 5 min read

If you're struggling with the price of gasoline and feel as if you fill up your tank much too often, it may be time to look at the fuel economy of your vehicle. Realizing that you aren't entirely helpless in the fate of the fuel economy of your car is a wonderful way to begin making changes for the better. There are several different initiatives that you can take to conserve fuel, some easier than others.

*Maintain Your Vehicle to Save

Keeping your vehicle in tiptop shape has the ability to drastically improve your fuel economy. Most vehicles on the road have their tires inflated to the wrong tire pressure. By inflating tires to their proper pressure, one is easily able to improve the fuel efficiency of their vehicle. Check your tire pressure at least once a month to ensure proper inflation.

There are also several vehicle parts that can be replaced to ensure better gas mileage. Spark plugs are one such part. Spark plugs will need to be changed a few times over the lifespan of your vehicle. However, it may be wise to change out your spark plugs in advance of when they're set to require a change. The Family Handyman explains the tendency for worn-out spark plugs to become less fuel efficient over time, "If your 100,000-mile spark plugs have 80,000 miles on them, they're 80 percent worn. Misfires and incomplete combustion occur more frequently during that last 20,000 miles, costing you almost $562.50 in wasted fuel."

The type of oil that you choose to use in your vehicle isn't only important where your engine is concerned. In fact, the grade of oil that is used in your vehicle has a direct effect on the fuel economy of the vehicle, which is why it's important to only use the grade of oil that is listed in your car's manual. There are also specific brands of oil that advertise advanced fuel economy, which may be worth a shot as they often contain "friction-reducing" additives.

*Use Your Brakes Less for More Efficiency

Less time spent pushing the brakes equates to less fuel that is being wasted by your vehicle. This is partly due to the fact that accelerating right after braking is much less fuel efficient because the fuel that it took to get up to the speed before you braked is wasted. Your vehicle also requires more fuel to accelerate back up to a higher speed. Using cruise control while driving on the highway helps to conserve fuel because maintaining a constant speed means less braking. In the city, paying careful attention to lights and signs can allow you to coast into a stop, rather than needing to brake suddenly. Also, it's important to not trail cars too closely. Other cars may brake suddenly, which will require you to do so, too, costing you gasoline in the process.

*Other Wise Habits to Adopt

Observing the speed limit is one habit to adopt that can have a lasting positive effect on your fuel usage. Fuel experts from Fuel Economy explain the importance of not driving too fast: "While each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed (or range of speeds), gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 50 mph."

Keeping the weight of your vehicle as low as possible is another way to save fuel. Some fuel experts recommend removing unused seats in a vehicle, but you need not go to such extremes to save a few bucks. Simply try not to make a habit of carrying unnecessary cargo in your vehicle, especially on your roof, as it can reduce your fuel economy due to an increase in wind resistance, which means it takes more energy to get your car moving.

Where you park your vehicle is important, too. Keep your vehicle cool by parking it either in the garage or in the shade. This prevents the evaporation of fuel from your gas tank, which occurs when a car gets too hot.

Though you may not feel as if you have the ability or the energy to apply every one of these gas-saving tips, each fuel-saving habit that you do adopt will positively impact your vehicle's fuel economy. Whether you find it easier to invest money in the maintenance of your vehicle or time in developing healthier driving habits is up to you!

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