Tips for Being a Green Driver with a Gasoline-Powered Vehicle

green driving tips

Let’s face it – the days of paying $2.00 or less per gallon of gas are long gone and probably will never return!  But the fact remains that for most Americans, having a vehicle is essential to their way of life. Between the commute to work, weekend trips and running regular errands, the cost of a fill-up can be pretty painful to the wallet.

Although many auto manufacturers are continuing to perfect cars that use alternate fuel sources, not everyone can afford to buy a new hybrid or electric vehicle.  The good news for most of us is that the automakers are also continuing to increase fuel efficiency in those vehicles that are gasoline powered.  So, by following some (or all) of the tips in this article, you can help to increase your fuel economy and savings by up to 47%.  Cutting back on the amount of gas your vehicle is using can help in two major ways:  it will save money and it is also beneficial to the environment.

These “green” driving tips will not only help to cut back on the pollution emitted by your car, but can also help to keep a little more “green” in your wallet!

1. Remove Unnecessary Items from Your Car

Much like the human body, extra or unnecessary weight in your car requires more energy (fuel) to get from point A to point B.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated that for every 100 extra pounds your car carries, it loses 2% of its fuel economy. By removing any unnecessary items from the trunk and back seat, you can help to keep that loss to a minimum.

2. Keep Tires Properly Inflated

We’ve mentioned this suggestion in prior blog posts, but it can’t be stressed enough. Properly-inflated tires have less contact with the road and, therefore, encounter less friction. By reducing the amount of friction your tires have to overcome, your engine doesn’t have to work as hard to move the vehicle. According to the EPA, properly-inflated tires can increase your fuel economy by up to 3%.

Another option is to switch to low rolling-resistance tires, which are harder than regular tires so they encounter even less friction. There is a down side to this option–harder tires will affect the way your car handles the road.

3. Reduce The Need for Speed

Speeding, hard-braking and jack-rabbit acceleration are a bad combination when it comes to fuel economy. When starting, stopping, and accelerating, your vehicle must overcome inertia (the resistance force an object meets when changing its state of motion). Overcoming this force requires energy and in the case of a car, that means gas. Speeding, accelerating quickly, and braking hard can deplete efficiency by 33%, according to the EPA.1  On the other hand, slow acceleration, coasting, and gradual stopping will have the opposite effect and will help to preserve the gas in your tank.

4. Car Pooling and Ride Sharing

Car pooling and ride sharing are great ways to cut down on fuel consumption. Both options offer drivers a way to split the driving and fuel costs, while collectively reducing the amount of gas being used, damage to the environment from pollution, and the miles put on each vehicle. In addition, many areas with heavy congestion offer High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes for car poolers to use. Since most people drive by themselves, HOV lanes typically have fewer cars and less traffic, benefiting drivers by saving time as well.

5. The Wheels on the Bus – Taking Public Transportation

Public transportation is a great alternative to getting behind the wheel of your own vehicle. Aside from the fact that it is a fraction of the cost of driving yourself around town, it is also a much more environmentally-friendly way to get around. Most public transportation systems run on clean-burning natural gas or electricity depending on the mode of transportation, and in the case of rail line transport, have virtually no traffic to compete with. The main down side of public transportation is the added time needed to get where you’re going due the frequent stops made and the time needed for passengers to embark/disembark.

6. Other Alternatives

In addition to the items listed above, there are some other things that can be done to be more “green” with your car.  Some of them are not for everyone, but other options include converting your vehicle to a bio-diesel engine, down-grading from an SUV (if you drive one) to a more fuel-efficient vehicle, and looking into four-day work weeks or telecommuting at your place of employment.

With the cost of fuel continually on the rise, conserving fuel, improving fuel economy, and helping to reduce excess fuel consumption is essential. Hopefully, these tips can help you to find ways to improve on all of those things and save some money in the process.

Do you have any tips for cutting down on fuel consumption, fuel cost, or just about going more “green” in your vehicle? Let us know in the comments section below – we value your opinion!

*image courtesy of StockMonkeys.com

The Importance of Choosing the Right Octane Fuel for Your Vehicle

right octane fuel

For the day-to-day rigors and routine operations of your vehicle, few things are as important as choosing the proper grade of octane for the unleaded fuel you put in your gas tank. Although the prices at the pump may make many consumers balk at choosing a high-grade, more-expensive octane, the truth of the matter is having the proper octane in your gas tank can actually improve vehicle performance.

First, let’s start with explaining what an “octane rating” is and how it’s determined. According to Mac Allen of PubArticles.com, “the amount of additives in the fuel determines its octane rating. The octane rating is a measure of the gasoline’s ability to resist engine knock. This is the pinging or rattling sound that is the result of premature ignition of the compressed fuel and air mixture found in one or more cylinders. Fuel octane is typically rated at regular, 87 octane, mid-grade, 89 octane, or premium, 91-93 octanes. Most gas stations will offer all three grades of octane.”

How do you determine what the proper octane is for your car? The best place to look is in the owner’s manual of your vehicle. Auto manufacturers determine the proper compression levels needed for the fuel/air mixture to combust when the spark plugs fire. For most vehicles, the recommended level of octane is 87, but some models with turbo-charged or higher-compression engines require 89, 91 or 93.

Most newer-model vehicles contain engines with computer-controlled or variable valve timing and sensors that monitor engine knock. For these advanced engines, higher octane fuels (some with booster additives) will often be required to maintain engine power and performance. However, for older-model vehicles without computer-controlled timing or variable valve timing, there may be little to no point in using a higher-than-recommended octane fuel with stock timing settings. So, for older-model vehicles, using the lowest octane your vehicle can support will not harm the engine performance and will only save you money at the pump.

It is important to note that using an octane fuel that is too high for your vehicle will adversely affect its fuel efficiency. Higher octane fuel requires more heat and more precision to ignite correctly. For example, if a car is designed to use 87 octane, burning 93 octane can cause the engine to produce less power, thus making it require more fuel to perform at the same level. So you will want to be prudent and use the lower octane.

The fuel that you put into your vehicle is important, so we recommend that you always follow the guidelines set by the manufacturer. For more information on fuel octane and other information about gasoline, visit Exxon’s FAQ page.

As always, we would love to hear your feedback on fuel octane and on your experiences with engine knock. Leave us a comment below!

*image courtesy of moto@Club4AG on Flickr

How to Reduce Fuel Costs and Keep More Money in your Pocket!
Just in time for the holidays!

Saving Gas

With a gallon of gas approaching $4.00 or more, depending upon where you live and what your usual brand is, it’s time to think about some small changes you can make to reduce your over all fuel costs!

Most people don’t realize that one of the biggest drains on your gas mileage is a dirty air filter! At Tischer, we recommend that our clients maintain their vehicles per the optimum maintenance schedule included in your owner’s manual. Part of these periodic maintenance procedures includes replacement of this vital filter.

Did you know that (according to Jorgen Wouters, of daily finance.com) a clean air filter can improve your gas mileage by as much as 10%, and that nearly 25% of cars on the road could use a new air filter? This means that if you have a clean air filter in your vehicle, you could save about $0.35 per gallon of gas or your vehicle could take you an additional 23 miles on a typical tank of gas. And this is just ONE way to maximize your gas mileage!

Some other tips we have discovered over the years include*:

  • Make sure your wheels are properly aligned. Poor wheel alignment makes tires wear out more quickly and forces the engine to work harder, which can reduce gas mileage by 10%.  So anything you gained by having a clean air filter will be lost by having poor alignment.
  • Get you car tuned up frequently. A properly-tuned engine can improve gas mileage by 4%.
  • Make sure your tires are properly inflated. If tires are properly inflated as per your owner’s manual, you’ll save about $0.11 per gallon of gas.
  • Check your gas cap frequently to be sure that it is functioning correctly.  17% of vehicles on the road have broken or missing gas caps!
  • Lose any extra weight you might be hauling. Keep your trunk and back seat empty of unnecessary items, as every 100 lbs. you carry in the vehicle costs you about 2% in fuel efficiency.
  • Slow down!  For every 5 mph you knock off your highway speed, fuel consumption is improved by 7%.  So if you typically drive 65 mph on the highway, driving 60 mph will save you about $0.27 per gallon!
  • Keep your driving consistent and smooth. Smooth driving will save you about 33% on highway mileage and 5% around town.  We are talking about smoother transitions between accelerating and decelerating – so no drag racing!
  • Let off the brake! Driving with your foot on the brake will reduce gas consumption by as much as 35% and wear out your brakes.  If you drive like this and stop, you’ll save about $1.35 per gallon!
  • Watch your idling time. Idling more than 30 seconds not only costs you, but there is also a cost to the environment.  Some convenience stores have signs posted about huge fines you will have to pay if ticketed for idling in front of their store.  So, if you are stopping for longer than a traffic light, turn your car off.  Also, there is no need to “warm up” your car before driving anymore.

We found a few more great tips when researching online. About.com guides Christine and Scott Gable, say that using cruise control will stop you from checking your speed every second and will maintain that smooth driving that Gillis was talking about. They also recommend turning off the climate control when you can and getting fresh air through open windows (even if only a crack) and the sunroof, if you have one. This will not only contribute to your health, but your engine will not work so hard to run the A/C compressor. One last tip they have is to try to condense trips around town instead of hopping in the car and taking a bunch of little trips.  This saves gas, time and about twenty pounds of carbon dioxide being spewed into the atmosphere.

If you try to follow even a few of the suggestions above, it will have a profound impact on your vehicle’s performance and fuel economy. Most of the these tips can be taken care of by following the comprehensive maintenance plan detailed in your owner’s manual and which can be done here at Tischer Auto.

Make your appointment today to have your vehicle in tip-top shape and end up keeping more money in your pocket!

As always, we welcome your feedback! If you have been using ways to maximize your fuel economy, carbon footprint, or anything else you’d like to share about your vehicle, please send us comments!

*Thanks to Jack Gillis, author of The Car Book, for creating a valuable resource for car owners. We have learned a lot from reading his book and suggest that you check it out.