Learning Fuel Economy from the Experts

What’s a myth? What’s been tested?

Truth: Your driving habits are going to be the most significant factor getting those higher MPGs.Accelerating slower, braking slower, driving the speed limit, and using cruise control. If you normally drive like a maniac, and you start driving conservatively, you could save around 35%. Most of us don’t need to change that dramatically, but we will instantly start to see savings by slowing everything down a little while on the road (not to mention it’s safer too!).

Myth: It’s more fuel efficient to roll down the windows than use the A/C.Granted, this does vary some depending on speed (drag is more of a factor at higher speeds), but A/C compressors have become more efficient over time and it doesn’t seem to affect how easy the engine can push the car forward as much as it used to. Howstuffworks.com claims that it’s better to keep the A/C on when at freeway speeds and windows down around town. Edmunds.com tests revealed a negligible difference either way.

Truth: Keeping up on vehicle maintenance boosts fuel economy.A bad oxygen sensor can drop miles per gallon down 40%, and other maintenance items like spark plugs, wheel alignment, and engine oil, can bring it down another 4.1% on average. Going from a clogged air filter to a new one can save another 10%. Keeping your vehicle in good shape can pay off over the long run.

Myth: Tire pressure can dramatically increase or decrease mileage out of a tank. Does tire pressure affect fuel economy? Yes, it does. A noticeable amount? Not really. U.S. Department of Energy states that for every 1 psi low a tire is, it decreases fuel economy by .4%. If your tires were 8 psi low (which is fairly significant), it would net less than 1MPG loss for most of us on the road. Although low tire pressure will wear tires quicker and give you less stability on the highway. I would still recommend keeping at the manufacturer recommended psi (which can be found on a plaque in the driver’s door jam).

Again, making some small changes in how you drive, and getting maintenance items checked for wear can save you a noticeable amount in the end. It’s worth looking into!