Rising gas prices got you down? Earth911 rounded up these tips from the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Alliance to Save Energy that can improve your gas mileage, save you money and help the environment.
The average U.S. household will spend about $3,325 to fuel its vehicles in 2012, according to the Alliance. But by performing simple vehicle maintenance and changing a few driving habits, the nonprofit estimates you can save as much as $1,347 on gas this year, based on an average national gas price of $3.65 per gallon.
1. Get a tuneup
Savings from a basic tuneup: $18
Savings from an oxygen sensor repair: $1,297
Resolving both minor and major car maintenance issues could result in big gas savings. Repairing a car that is out of tune or has failed an emissions test can improve gas mileage by an average of 4 percent. Fixing a more serious problem, such as a faulty oxygen sensor, can boost your car’s gas mileage by as much as 40 percent.
2. Inflate those tires
You can improve gas mileage by up to 3.3 percent by simply keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. For every 1 psi drop in pressure in all four tires, gas mileage decreases by 0.3 percent. Maintaining proper tire pressure also extends the tire’s useful life and supports safer driving.
How do you determine the right pressure for your tires? The DOE recommends locating the proper tire pressure on the sticker on the driver’s side door jamb, on the sticker in the glove compartment or in your owner’s manual. Do not follow the maximum pressure printed on the tire’s sidewall, the DOE advises.
3. Choose the right motor oil
Not using the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil on your car? Then you could be reducing your gas mileage by 1-2 percent.
In addition to opting for the manufacturer’s recommended motor oil, the DOE suggests looking for oil labeled as “Energy Conserving” on the American Petroleum Institute performance symbol to make sure the oil contains friction-reducing additives.
4. Ease your aggression
Save money and prevent accidents by avoiding aggressive driving. Speeding, rapid acceleration and rapid braking can lower gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and 5 percent while driving in the city.
5. Slow down
In most cars, gas mileage quickly goes down when you drive above 60 mph. According to the DOE, you can expect to pay an additional $0.30 per gallon of gas for each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph.
6. Lighten your load
Clear out your back seat and trunk of all the unnecessary items you’ve been lugging around in your car – camping equipment, kids’ toys and more. Carting around an extra 100 pounds can reduce your gas mileage by up to 2 percent.