Nine Ways to Spend Less Time
at the Pump This Summer
With summer quickly approaching and gas prices
nearing $3.00 a gallon, conserving fuel can benefit everyone. Here are
some simple tips that Janet Ricker, Greeneville High School ecology
teacher, gives that can save you money at the pump this summer.
excess idling & fast starts
When your car
is idling, it’s burning fuel and getting zero-miles per gallon in return.
So, if you’re stopped in traffic because of a wreck, turn off the engine.
Likewise, if the drive-thru at McDonalds is more than 2 or 3 cars long,
park the car and go inside to order.
Buddy Kinser, a mechanic for many years, also adds
that while it was once the case that starting the car used more gas than
leaving it running for 2 or 3 minutes, it is no longer the case due to the
increased fuel efficiency of modern cars. “This idea that it’s actually
better to leave the car running when it’s only going to be idle a few
minutes as opposed to turning it off and restarting the engine is nothing
more than a myth. It is far better, in regards to conserving fuel, to turn
the car off. A car can’t burn gas if it’s not turned on,” Kinser
Also, avoid speeding up aggressively after a stop light or when passing
air-conditioning as little as possible
the air-conditioning detracts from the overall gas mileage of the vehicle.
Rolling down the windows instead of running the AC will work to conserve
fuel. However, Kinser adds that when driving on the interstate the gas
mileage is actually better served by running the AC as opposed to rolling
the windows down. He explains that the wind resistance is so great when
traveling at speeds of 65 mph and higher that having the windows down
would actually decrease gas mileage more than running the air
conditioning. He also points out that the gas burned by running the AC is
not contingent on how high the AC runs. If running the AC is absolutely
necessary, it is far more fuel efficient to run it on high for a couple
minutes at a time then by running it on low for an entire trip.
Cars are most fuel efficient at 60-65
mph and every mph above that begins to reduce overall miles per gallon.
Using cruise-control at high
speeds keeps helps prevent inadvertent changes of speed. A steady pace is
more easily maintained, and thus, is more fuel efficient.
Five: Cut wind
The more aerodynamic a car is, the
less energy it has to use to move forward. Things like flags, car-top
carriers, and roof racks all create unnecessary wind resistance and
detract from gas mileage. Also, Kinser points out, that on pick-up trucks
the tailgate creates significant wind resistance and by removing it when
it’s not needed the gas mileage can be improved by up to 30%.
Don’t use wider tires than necessary and keep tires
Wide tires, such as off-road
tires, reduce gas mileage by creating more rolling resistance. It is
better to stick with stock tires unless conditions call for special tires.
Also, it tires aren't aligned properly or have too little pressure it
creates a drag and reduces gas mileage.
Seven: Have car
Proper maintenance of an
engine is vital to its fuel efficiency. According to the U.S. Department
of Energy, replacing clogged air filters and having a car serviced
regularly (every 3,000 miles) can improve its gas mileage by 15%. Also,
regular maintenance will help catch major maintenance problems, such as a
defective oxygen sensor, which could decrease fuel efficiency by as much
By consolidating errands into one trip
and carpooling or taking public transit when possible it is easy to
conserve fuel. Other obvious means of conserving gas are by walking or
riding a bicycle as opposed to hopping in the car just to drive a block or
environmentally conscious when choosing a car
Ricker points out that, “Higher gas prices seem to be a true catalyst for
environmentalism. Modern developments such as flex-fuel and hybrid cars
are becoming increasingly more affordable means of alleviating gas
technology is also becoming a solution to the gas