Hopefully you’re having a wonderful summer. Gas prices have remained relatively stable, which means to say that they’ve remained at their high price but haven’t gone much higher. Many people traveling a lot this summer are doing their best to squeeze as many miles out of their fuel dollars as possible and, to that end, we have answers to a number of questions about fuel saving and summer travel in today’s blog. Enjoy.
Question: What’s the overall best way to cut down on fuel costs?
Answer: Drive slower. In test after test performed around the country, it was found that driving your vehicle slower, especially on the highway, can increase your car’s fuel efficiency between 10 and 15%, and sometimes more. One study found that when a typical vehicle increases from 55 mph to 75 mph on the highway, it’s similar in gas usage to switching from a compact car to a large SUV or truck. Even going 10 miles an hour higher, from 55 to 65 mph, can lower your fuel economy up to 8 miles per gallon. So if you want to save gas, simply drive slower.
Question: What should I do if I want to carry things on the roof of my car?
Answer: Purchase an aerodynamic container or use your trunk space. Today’s modern vehicles are aerodynamically designed to reduce drag and increase gas mileage. Even adding a roof rack with nothing on it can lower your car’s fuel efficiency by up to 5% but, if you carry a lot of stuff on your roof like bicycles, kayaks and luggage, you can see an unbelievable drop in mileage of almost 20%. Whenever possible, use the storage space inside your car instead of the roof.
Question: Which is better, using A/C or opening the windows?
Answer: The difference, unless you are traveling at a very high rate of speed, is negligible. Most studies done to determine whether air-conditioning or open windows use more gas have found that the difference between either one is negligible. The only time there was a measurable amount of difference, approximately 4%, was when a car was being driven above 65 miles an hour with the windows open, which would make using the A/C on the highway a better gas saver. In every other situation it’s pretty much the same.
Question: When my low fuel warning light flashes, how far can my vehicle still drive?
Answer: Between 25 and 40 miles depending on the vehicle. Frankly, there’s no set rule and all cars are different. Most will still have between 1 and 2 gallons of fuel left when the low fuel light starts blinking so the best thing to do is determine how far your vehicle can go on a gallon gas and figure it out from there. Even better is to never wait until your low fuel light starts to blink to begin with.
Question: Does installing a specialty air filter improve gas mileage?
Answer: In modern cars, no. Today’s modern cars use computers to automatically control their engines and maintain the correct air to fuel ratio. Installing “specialty” air filters won’t affect your mileage one way or another but, depending on their cost, might just make a dent in your pocketbook.
Question: Can debris in my fuel tank hurt my car’s engine?
Answer: Probably not. Most of today’s modern cars have a fuel filter in the gas line and the gas tank, making it unlikely that any debris that might be in your tank will ever make it to your engine. Also, unless your car is exceedingly old, any driving causes enough movement in your gasoline that debris there won’t be able to settle anyway.
Those are some of the most asked questions about fuel and fuel economy that we see on a regular basis. Hopefully the answers have enlightened you as to how you can stretch every mile out of every gallon of gas. Happy driving!