A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article about an easy way for you to increase your car’s gas mileage without having to alter any of your driving habits. To jog your memory, the tip was to simply turn your car off if you were going to sit at a stop light for more than ten seconds.
While I thought the tip made sense, it seemed to cause a bit of a backlash because it went against the common misperception that it takes more gas to start your car than it does to let it sit in idle for extended amounts of time.
Based on many of the comments I received due to this tip – in which some people stated that even idling for up to 15 minutes uses less gas than starting a car – I thought it would be a good idea to share how much I have increased my gas mileage by simply turning my car off at stop lights when I know I’m going to sit there for an extended period of time.
Before I start my “analysis” I’d just like to point out that my comparison will be based on the month prior to and the month following when I started turning off my car at long stop lights. While I know that this isn’t a complete apples to apples comparison due to all of the different variables, it’s as close as I’m going to come to putting together a “true” test.
In the month leading up to my decision to turn off my car at long stop lights, my car averaged about 31.25 miles per gallon, based on 1,406.4 miles traveled and 45.05 gallons of gasoline consumed. In the month following my decision, my car averaged about 33.05 mpg, based on 1,559.9 miles traveled and 47.2 gallons of gasoline consumed.
Because I didn’t take any long trips during either of the two months and almost all of the miles were piled up commuting to work, driving to the golf course or running various odds and ends, I can say without reservation that the main reason behind my 5.75% jump in fuel economy.
Granted, on a hot summer’s day, turning your car off at a stop light may not be the best thing in the world to do, but I would imagine that even if you were to do this just during your morning commute and later in the evening, you would probably add another 3% to your car’s gas mileage.
And as I’m sure you’re well aware by now, if each of us were to increase our fuel economy by 3%, we would save billions of gallons of gas (and billions of dollars) over the course of a year.