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10 ways being a smart driver saves you gas

Your bad driving habits could be costing you at the fuel pump. Following these driving tips will help you save money on gas.

Easy does it. You might enjoy flooring it at a stop light, but you're wasting gas and putting more strain on your car.

"Any sort of lead-footedness is going to give you worse mileage," says Brian Moody, road test editor at Edmunds.com.

Driving aggressively out on the highway can lower your car's gas mileage by 33 percent. Driving like a hot-headed teen around town can pull down your vehicle's fuel efficiency by 5 percent.

So drive like a grownup. Slowly accelerate after every stop sign and stop light. Go easy on the accelerator out on the highway.

Your car will thank you for it, especially if you drive an automatic. An automatic transmission runs better with gradual acceleration.

Be a smooth driver. Abrupt stops aren't great for your car or your car's fuel efficiency. So anticipate stops whenever you can. Letting your car coast to a stop is a good way to improve your gas mileage. Using cruise control out on the highway will help you maintain a smooth, constant speed and may boost your gas mileage. Becoming a smoother driver will help keep your fuel bills in check.

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Follow the speed limit. Speeding is a very expensive way to drive. Driving above the speed limit may get you where you want to go in less time, but it also means more trips to the gas pump.

"Driving at excessive speeds is going to pull down your fuel efficiency," says Jim Kliesch, research associate at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy and vehicle analyst for GreenerCars.com.

And the faster you drive, the bigger the fuel-economy hit on your car. Driving 75 mph instead of 65 mph will lower your car's fuel economy by 10 percent. Driving 70 mph instead of 55 mph will lower your car's fuel economy by 17 percent. So stop treating speed limit signs as suggestions and slow down already. Obeying the speed limit is the safest and cheapest way to drive.

Avoid rush hour. Not only is stop-and-go traffic stressful and annoying, it's bad for your car's gas mileage. So avoid driving at rush hour whenever you can. Stagger your work hours so you can time your weekday commuting at less busy times of the day.

Combine trips. You can save fuel and cut down on the wear and tear on your car by choosing the shortest route to your destination and combining short trips whenever possible. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer, multistop trip of the same distance with a warm engine.

Travel light. Remove any excess items from your car. Less weight means better mileage. Carrying an extra 100 pounds in the trunk of your car may cut your car's fuel economy by 1 percent to 2 percent.

Clear the roof. A loaded roof rack increases your car's air drag and can pull down your car's mileage by 5 percent. Avoid carrying items on your car's roof whenever possible.

Go easy on the air conditioning. Roll down your car's windows and let in the summer breeze. Using the gas-hogging air conditioning as sparingly as possible will give your car's fuel economy a real boost. Air conditioning can drag down your car's fuel economy by 10 percent to 20 percent.

On days when air conditioning is a must, first try cooling your car the old fashioned way -- rolling down the windows, opening the vents, peeling back the sunroof. You'd be amazed how much hot air you can clear out of your car just by opening up for awhile.

Flipping on the air conditioning full blast as soon as you hop into a hot car is a big waste of gas and money.

Keep in mind, though, that at highway speeds, modern cars are more fuel efficient with the air conditioning on than with the air off and windows down.

Don't be idle. When you idle your car, its fuel economy crashes down to zero miles per gallon. The larger your engine the more gas you wind up wasting while idling your car. Get with the times. Modern vehicles don't need to warm up, so don't bother trying.

Watch your foot. Avoid resting your left foot on the brake while driving. The slightest pressure could cause a drag that will require additional gas. You'll also wear out the brakes sooner.


 
-- Updated: April 20, 2005
     

 

 
 
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