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According to the Automobile Association of America’s latest report, the national average price of a gallon of regular gas is now $3.88. That’s an increase of more than 27% in the last twelve months! Reminiscing about $1.00 gas won’t roll back the price, but there are a lot of things you can do to stretch every gallon of gas a little farther. Here are a few easy tips that you can use right away…
1. What’s harder: running wind-sprints or casually strolling from one side of the gymnasium to the other? You can practically double your gas mileage by simply changing the way you accelerate and stop. Try to smoothly accelerate and coast to a stop. Even better, try to reduce how often you have to accelerate and stop; you will burn less gas by taking a slightly longer route that doesn’t require you to constantly speed up and slow down.
2. What’s harder: sitting in a chair or jogging in place? Modern cars start very efficiently and research has proven that 30 seconds is a reasonable ‘break even’ estimate for evaluating the cost of sitting still with the engine running (think drive-throughs or train-crossings) versus shutting off your engine and restarting when you’re ready to move.
3. If you’ve ever run on a treadmill, you know that it’s a lot harder to run 7 MPH than it is to run 5 MPH. A typical car will burn 25% more gas at 70 MPH than it will at 50 MPH. Aerodynamic drag increases with the square of the speed. For all of you who (like me!) didn’t major in physics, if you double your speed from 30 MPH to 60 MPH, it takes eight times more power to overcome the air resistance.
4. Ok, now that you’re rolling along at a reasonable speed, what else can you do to help your car slip through the air with less effort? Minimize the fuel-wasting drag on your vehicle. Roll up the windows and turn on the air conditioning any time you’re going more than about 30 MPH because the strain of running the AC is less than the added drag from having the windows down. While you’re at it, take a look at all of the other things that are poking out into the wind. Bike racks, roof-top luggage carriers, and even that cute little flag flapping on the top of your antennae all contribute.
5. Going back to my treadmill analogy, how much harder do you think it will be to run with a 50-pound backpack on? After air resistance, rolling resistance is the next biggest gas thief in your car. Give your car a break by removing all of the unnecessary weight it’s hauling around. Next, keep an eye on your car’s shoes. Properly inflated tires will significantly reduce the energy required to roll down the highway. Instead of checking your tire pressure every morning (who has time for that?) consider filling your tires with nitrogen. It usually costs about $20 and because nitrogen molecules are a lot larger than air, the nitrogen won’t leak out nearly as fast. We’ve gone six months between tire fill-ups since we switched to nitro.
You don’t have to be a physicist or an engineer to figure out how to improve your gas mileage; you just have to think like a car. Picture your car on a treadmill and try to imagine all of the ways you can keep it from getting out of breath. Your car, and your wallet, will thank you!
write by ramirez