Our customers often ask us how they can save money driving, especially as traffic around Tyler seems to be getting more congested. Not only in Tyler, but throughout Texas, there are lots of roads with long stretches, and beautiful hills and jaw-dropping views. But with gas prices steadily creeping up, the cost to fill a car’s gas tank is typically on the mind of today’s drivers. More than ever, drivers are looking for ways to save money when it comes to driving. Fuel efficiency has become crucial to the sanity of those seeking to spend as little as possible at the gas pump. However, taking advantage of regular car maintenance can also save you and your wallet from stressful and very costly car repairs.
Here are several important tips to help you save money while driving:
1. Routine Auto Care
The easiest way to maintain your car and keep it running at maximum efficiency is to routinely make sure everything is running smoothly. Make sure you have an honest and trusted car mechanic who will take a look at several key components that will keep you car in tip-top shape.
Make sure you are changing your oil as recommended by your car’s manufacturer. Running your car’s engine with old, sludgy oil will degrade key components and will harm the overall life of your engine. Using the correct type of engine oil is also very important. Your mechanic should perform a comprehensive check of the oil system when changing the oil.
Another crucial component you should always keep in mind are your car’s tires. Keeping them inflated at the correct pressure, as well as keeping them balanced and aligned should not only yield a longer life for your tires (which are notoriously expensive), but help you with fuel efficiency. Also keep in mind that having healthy tires could literally save you from the expenses of a costly and dangerous accident on the road.
Your auto mechanic should also perform a complete check on your brakes. Faulty or worn-down brakes, rotors, or brake pads can turn into a costly repair.
2. Slow Down and Relax
Driving shouldn’t be an activity that stresses you out. Driving aggressively is not only dangerous, but can lead to poor fuel efficiency. According to fueleconomy.gov, “Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes gas. It can lower your gas mileage by roughly 15% to 30% at highway speeds and 10% to 40% in stop-and-go traffic.”
The easiest way to cut down on these dangerous habits is to relax, and leave for your destination earlier. It is better to leave for work 15 minutes earlier and save money on gas while cutting down on the possibility of a wreck.
Staying under the speed limit also helps, but know that typically, around 50 miles per hour is the point in most cars where fuel economy begins decreasing. It is estimated that every 5 mph over 50 mph is like paying an additional 16 cents per gallon of gas. Your cruise control is a very useful tool that will help you save money while driving. It can help with the unintentional, gas guzzling accelerations.
3. Go Easy On the AC
Texas gets hot. Crazy hot. Unfortunately, overuse of your car’s air conditioner can lead to a drop in your fuel efficiency. You should also keep in mind, that rolling down your windows can also be detrimental to gas mileage, as it increases “drag” and resistance.
A good tip is to simply roll the windows down at lower speeds, but use your AC at higher ones. This is because rolling your windows down at highway speeds can create wind drag, affecting aerodynamics, making your car use more fuel to reach those highway speeds.
When possible, try to park in the shade, or buy a sunshade to keep your cabin cooler when parked for long periods under the unforgiving Texas sun. It will also help to roll your windows down to let the heat out as you begin driving, so that you don’t have to blast your AC after you first get in your car. As a matter of fact, you should never “blast” your AC. Using your AC sensibly will help you get more bang for your buck.
4. Stop Idling
Many of us are guilty of this. Whether it’s keeping the car on as we wait at a slow-moving, drive-thru fast food line, or keeping the car on as we wait on our spouse or kids to finally leave the house. Idling your car destroys your fuel economy, especially when done for long periods, and, of course, when you’re also blasting your AC.
Fueleconomy.gov says idling your car can waste anywhere from a quarter to half of your gas tank per hour, depending on your car’s size and your AC usage. If you expect your wait time to be more than a minute, it’s a good decision to go ahead and turn your car off.
5. Plan Ahead
Doing a little planning ahead of time can definitely save you some money when it comes to gas. Whether pulling out an old-school map, or charting your route on your trusted GPS, finding the shortest route is a good practice. In addition to finding the shortest route, a modern-day GPS can show you how to avoid high-traffic areas, as well as construction zones. This should help you avoid stop-and-go traffic, which is a killer when it comes to fuel efficiency.
Another way planning can help your fuel costs go down is by packing your car as light as possible. Storing unnecessary and/or bulky items can cut down on the weight of your car’s load, which will certainly help your mileage. You should try to avoid packing, placing, or storing things on top of your car, as objects will create air drag and decrease fuel economy.
6. Technology Is Your Friend
In addition to using your phone’s or your car’s GPS to plan your routes efficiently, keep in mind that there are now phone apps that will direct you toward the cheapest available gas station area. Apps like GasBuddy, Gas Guru and Waze will point out prices at your local gas stations in real time, saving you money at the pump.
7. Combine Short Trips.
Your car’s engine works more efficiently when it’s warm. When you have multiple errands in one day, it’s best for your fuel economy to knock them all out in the same day around the same time.
So, there you have it. 7 Smart Tips for Saving Money While Driving. At Stewart’s Automotive on Donnybrook, we care about our customers, their cars, and helping them save money with good driving habits. Give us call or stop in today, and we will be happy to discuss more tips specific to your driving habits and vehicle that can help you save money.