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Drive Smart: How to Increase Fuel-Efficiency

Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Photo courtesy of Flickr
Many drivers are interested in purchasing a vehicle that is more fuel-efficient than their current personal vehicle but are not prepared to take on the expense of a new car. Even if a new car isn't in your near future, you can change the way you drive to boost your fuel efficiency.

- Maintenance Tips
• Tires that are not properly inflated can cut down fuel efficiency by as much as 3 percent. Having your air pressure regularly tested and air added or let out of your tires accordingly will save you money at the pump.
• Get your vehicle regularly tuned up. Taking care of issues before they become serious problems not only gives you peace of mind on the road but increases fuel efficiency by as much as 4 percent.

- Drive Smarter
• Having a lead foot, along with quickly braking and accelerating, can cost you a fortune at the pump. Every five miles per hour you drive above 60 will cost you the equivalent of 30 cents per gallon more because of wasted fuel.
• Idling is a waste of gas, as you're essentially getting zero miles per gallon while idling. It should be completely avoided if possible.

- Product Recommendations
• Low quality gasoline tends to leave a build-up in your engine that reduces fuel efficiency over time. Stick with high quality gasoline to avoid this degradation in fuel economy.
• Research whether gas stations near your home or office have loyalty cards that save you cents off each gallon of gas. If you have a membership for a warehouse club, check the current price of gasoline at the club online before going out to fill your tank. Often, these clubs offer between 5 and 10 cents off per gallon as compared to traditional gas stations.

- Myths about Fuel Efficiency
• There are companies out there that sell devices that they claim will boost your fuel efficiency. The EPA has found that none of these devices does what they claim, so save your money and avoid this scam.
• You've probably heard that changing your air filter will boost your fuel efficiency; however, this is only true if you're driving an older vehicle. Technology used in newer vehicles means a dirty air filter affects engine performance but not fuel efficiency.
• While using the air conditioner in your vehicle is better than opening the windows, you should just use the fan as the air conditioner uses fuel to operate.