With all the time this year that you’ll likely be spending in your vehicle, K&S Car Wash explores ways to decrease the amount of gas you’ll use so that you can be friendlier to the earth and your wallet. But what can you do if you don’t have an electric or hybrid vehicle? There are still some tips that you can incorporate into your routine that will increase your fuel efficiency that any driver can do regardless of what kind of car they drive. Wash Your Car It might sound like someone is pulling your leg when you say it but having a clean car can make your car more fuel-efficient. There’s a theory floating around that a dirty car will be more aerodynamic, kind of like how the holes of a golf ball help the ball fly farther by disrupting the air. Although having dimples on a car will make a car more aerodynamic and provide better gas mileage, dirt on a car doesn’t mimic the aerodynamics of dimples on a golf ball. So, until they start manufacturing cars with dimples in the body, just keep your car clean when you want better fuel economy. Drive a Consistent Speed Stopping and starting decreases your fuel efficiency, so if you can drive at a consistent speed, that’s all the better. You still must stop for red lights and congested areas of the road, but there’s absolutely no point in speeding up to pass someone only to have to slow down behind a different car. In total, most people who try this as a way of cutting some driving time off only gain a few car lengths in town and maybe a minute or two on the highway over a long drive. Put On the Cruise Control Most people save on gas when they use cruise control because cruise control helps them keep a more consistent speed, which also translates to using less gas. This is especially true if you’re driving on long stretches of even road, uphill road, or downhill road. The amount of gas that you’ll save will depend on the model of vehicle that you have. Get Rid of the Junk If you’re going on a family camping trip, it’s understandable if you have some extra stuff in the car, but you should still be aware of the extra weight that you’re carrying and refrain from taking more stuff than necessary. In fact, the EPA estimates that for every 100 extra pounds inside the vehicle, about 1% more gasoline is used. And if you’re concerned about gasoline consumption, you’ll be really interested to know that putting extra luggage on top of the vehicle eats up even more energy. In fact, the EPA estimate that rooftop cargo boxes reduce fuel efficiency by up to 25%. In contrast, a rear-mount cargo box reduces efficiency by only about 5% because the wind resistance isn’t as high as it is when you add a rooftop cargo space. So, if you want to save on fuel, make sure that you don’t have more cargo in your vehicle than you need, put as much of your cargo inside of your vehicle as possible, and use a rear-mount cargo area over a rooftop one if you have more than you can fit inside the vehicle. Check the O2 Sensor One of the best ways to ensure that you’re getting optimal gas mileage for every mile that you drive is to ensure that the O2 sensor is working properly. Cars have been manufactured with O2 sensors for the last several decades, but they become less effective as they get older. Inflate Your Tires The level of air in your tires is crucial to safety, length of life for the tire, and fuel efficiency. When your tires are underinflated, you have more drag because you have more tire on the road. You should always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations because if they’re underinflated, you could have a variety of problems, including safety issues and uneven wearing. The extra drag from the tires can result in needing to buy gas more often, too. Low-Viscosity Engine, Transmission, and Differential Oils You still want to have oils that are adequate for your vehicle, but you don’t want to have fluids that are more viscous than what you would need. For instance, you should go with a thinner oil for your engine during the winter months, especially if you live in a very cold area. The reason is that the cold weather makes the oil thicker. The thicker your oil and other fluids, the more energy it takes for the parts to run. You still need the appropriate oil, but just don’t choose one that’s too thick. In winter weather, because the oil gets thicker from the cold, you’re better off going with an oil that’s as low in viscosity as allowed in your user manual to cut down on the amount of energy that it takes to run various parts, such as the engine and transmission. Use the Fast Pass Lane If you live in a state that has tolls, or if you must drive through one regularly, know that you could cut down on the total amount of gas that you use by using the fast pass lane. Since you don’t have to slow down, you can save yourself the time and the gas that you would spend to brake and then accelerate again. Depending on how often you must go through tolls, this could save you a fair amount of gas. Plan Your Trips If you only need to go to the other side of town once a week, why wouldn’t you take the time to think ahead a little? For instance, if your child goes to karate lessons a twenty-minute drive away and you’ve been meaning to pick up some specialty items at the Mexican grocery store on that side of town, remember to do it then. You can do your grocery shopping and other errands while you’re waiting for your child to finish their lesson. This simple planning can save you a lot of time throughout the week as you find more ways to get more done on your trip out, and you’ll save even more in gas. You can also plan the best routes that will help you spend less time on the road and require less braking, which is a great strategy whenever you’re going for a slightly longer trip. Idling consumes gasoline, so if you’re in a parking lot waiting for a friend to come out of their house or the store so that you can pick them up, you should make sure that you turn your engine off while you’re waiting. If you have a vehicle that automatically turns the engine off when you’re waiting at a red light, leave the feature on, because it will save you a lot of money over the course of a year. Whenever you’re trying to get your car to perform better or just save on gas, being mindful and using just a few tricks from K&S Car Wash, you’ll be able to get the best fuel economy out of your vehicle even if you don’t have a hybrid or all-electric car.