Your Mileage May Vary (But It'll Rise If You Read This!) | Seventh Generation
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Your Mileage May Vary (But It'll Rise If You Read This!)

Author: the Inkslinger

Here in the far northern boondocks, my wallet now shrieks in horror every time it sees a gas pump. But what if we could save that cash and more every time we hit the accelerator?

It's a question that ought to be on everyone's mind in an era of lower petroleum supplies and higher costs. In addition to economy, there are also questions of ecology to consider as in, has anybody seen the Arctic ice sheet lately? Neither have scientists, who found that climate change is shrinking it to down to size of a freezer pack.

It's time to get serious about gas mileage, and the Obama administration have introduced rules that will raise the average fuel economy of new cars and trucks to 54.5 mpg by 2025, roughly double today's anemic 29 mpg. The standards will save 12 billion barrels of oil and an average of more than $8,000 per vehicle when implemented.(1)  That's the equivalent of lowering gas prices by $1 per gallon.(2)

But here's the thing: we can lower our gas bills on our own right now by wringing every possible mile out of every gallon we buy. Here's how:

  • Keep your tires inflated to the recommended pressure. You'll boost fuel economy by more than 3 percent.(3)
  • Consult your car's manual and use its recommended grade of motor oil to improve your gas mileage by 1–2 percent. Brands with "Energy Conserving" on the API performance symbol, contain friction-reducing additives that further enhance engine performance.(4)
  • Keep your engine properly tuned-up. Fixing a faulty oxygen sensor, for example, can improve gas mileage up to 40 percent.(5)
  • Check your air filter. Replacing a dirty air filter on a carbureted engine will improve gas mileage by as much as 14 percent.(6)
  • Don't rush. Each 5 mph increase above 60 mph is equal to paying about 28 cents more per gallon at today's prices.(7)
  • Mellow out. Aggressive driving lowers fuel economy by 33 percent at highway speeds and 5 percent in town. Replace jack-rabbit starts with slow, steady acceleration.(8)
  • Avoid carrying items on your vehicle's roof. The increased aerodynamic drag cuts mileage by up to 5 percent.(9)
  • Travel light. An extra 100 pounds in the trunk can add as much as 8 cents per gallon to your fuel costs.(10)
  • Every two minutes spent idling wastes enough gas to drive a mile. Since most cars use less gas to start up than they do idling for 10 seconds, kill your ignition when you're stuck in traffic or a queue.(11)
  • If you have cruise control, use it on highways to maintain a constant speed, but not on secondary roads where all those ups and downs cause engines to waste gas maintaining speed.
  • Combine multiple errands into a single trip and plan out the shortest itinerary. Several short trips taken from a cold start will use twice as much fuel as a longer multi-stop trip of the same distance taken with a warm engine.(12)

These strategies can help us use less gas and conserve more money. But the best way to save is not to use any gasoline at all! So take public transportation, carpool, bike, or walk whenever you can. Every gallon of fuel you leave in the ground stops about 20 pounds of carbon dioxide from being emitted.(13)   And it cuts at least a month off the second mortgage you had get to buy the stuff in the first place!


Photo: Anita Gould


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Rosie  picture
Thank you very much this was very helpful =) =)
BradVT picture
And buy a Prius.
Robert P. picture
Robert P.
I use my bicycle for errands. Not only do I save gasoline, I also avoid short trips that are bad for the car. I have a very large pack and can carry quite a few things home.
Polly  picture
All suggestions excellent! I particularly like to turn my little Scion off at signals, particularly ones which I know have a long cycle! Also love the cruise control on the highway! Thanks!
Gypsy Girl picture
Gypsy Girl
For AB2, the answer is YES, electric and hybrid cars are far more economical and environmentally friendly as several studies have shown, and are likely to get even better as gas prices rise. We have "put our money where are mouths are" and have both solar and an electric car (Nissan Leaf) and both those purchases have been worth more than we expected. A big extra with the car is that it is really great, and fun, to drive. (And FAST, so be careful not to speed.)
Michael F. Kolassa picture
Michael F. Kolassa
jmenandme picture
There is a bio-based, biodegradable motor oil called G-OIL that helps save MPG too. API certified, made in america, renewable resources. Pretty cool stuff.
53hers picture
you bet. the prius i have it is not the plug in, the electric comes from the brakes, every time i hit the brakes the batteries are re charged. best car i have ever bought.
AB2 picture
Car manufacturers have talked about improving the gas mileage of vehicles for 40 or 50 years now and the funny thing is that I really haven't seen much improvement over cars from 40 years ago with the exception of the hybrids. But then you are paying to charge them up regularly which also uses fuel to create the electrical power. Are they REALLY more economical and/or environmentally friendly?
53hers picture
to help the planet and help with savings at the pump, i recently took delivery of a 2012 prius. we used to pay on an average of $500.00 every month at the pump with a 2008 corolla. now with the prius it is a whopping $65.00 per month at the gas station. boy oh boy that prius has us relearning how to drive all over again. like above we have implimented alot of the iseas and now average 78.6 m.p.g. in town and that is on the low side, with over 65 m.p.g. on highway. what is nice when you turn off the car it will tell you your m.p.g. for the trip. that will be a constant reminder if i start driving aggressive again.