Driving Habits and Gas Mileage

Save Gas by Changing your Driving Habits

Speedometer revving.Many of us are aware of ways to reduce gas consumption by driving energy efficient vehicles, maintaining our cars, choosing the right tires and keeping them properly inflated and balanced.  However, that is only half the picture. If you are still engaging in bad driving habits, you will end up wasting a lot fuel. Let’s take a look at some of the most common driving habits that end up reducing your gas efficiency.

The 7 Habits of Highly Gas Efficient Drivers

  1. Don’t Speed –Observe the Speed Limit – In the 1970’s experts told us that driving 55 mph or less will save gas.  40 years later the same advice applies.  Cars have become more efficient and 60 mph is the top speed experts recommend for optimal fuel economy.  According to the US Department of Energy every 5 miles per hour above 60 mph will cost you on average $0.24 per gallon.[i] If you drive at 80 mph you will end up paying about $1.00 more per gallon.
  2. Use Cruise Control on Long Drives on Flat Surfaces – Using cruise control can have significant affect on gas efficiency for highway driving.  It can save you up to 14% in fuel savings.  Remember to observe the speed limit for even better results.  NOTE – turn off your cruise control when you are on mountainous highways.  Cruise control is not “smart” when descending steep roads.  I found several manufacturer recommending taking vehicles off cruise control when driving steep roads to maximize gas mileage.
  3. Avoid Aggressive Driving – There have been several ‘friendly driving’ campaigns to improve highway safety.  Now we can add fuel efficiency as a second reason to avoid aggressive driving.  When you weave in and out of traffic with rapid acceleration and frequent breaking you can lower your mileage by as much as 33%.[ii]   (It’s not good for your blood pressure either.)  If you find it difficult to break you aggressive driving habits, try less congested routes, car pooling, and driving before or after rush hour. 
  4. Don’t ride the break – Beginning drivers are often heavy footed and ride the break, but as they become more comfortable driving they should break less often.  If you catch yourself pumping the break, make a note of when you do it most, and concentrate on modulating your speed in those situations.
  5. Avoid Excessive Idling – An engine only needs 30 seconds to warm up on a cold day. 10 seconds after you start the car there is absolutely no benefit in keeping the motor running to save fuel or protect the engine.  Idling wastes millions of gallons of fuel each year.  Many cities, like Denver and New York have enacted anti-idling legislation. 
  6. Revving the Engine – It not only burns extra gas, but it adds to noise pollution and can charge up your aggressive driving muscles.  
  7. Fight the Fear of Walking – As a rule of thumb, if you can walk to your destination in 5 or 10 minutes, park the car and walk.  It’s good for your health, the atmosphere and fuel economy.  You will often save time parking in a back spot as opposed to circling the lot in search of a front space.


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