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Monday, June 23, 2008

Driving in the Era of High Gas Prices

What if you could get an extra 5-10 miles per gallon just by changing your driving habits? Would you do it? The only drawbacks is that you might piss off a few overly-anxious drivers and it might take 5 extra minutes to get to work.

In the big scheme of things though... Who the hell cares? It's not like the over-aggressive BMW drivers of the world are going to be paying for your car if you get in an accident or subsidize your commute costs.

Becoming a safer driver makes sense in this economy especially if it can save you money at the pump and overall maintenance on your car. Here's some tips on how to get better mpg out of your existing car.

Don't Accelerate / Ease up on the Brakes
The trick to getting more out of your car is to follow the old rules. Maintain three or more cars spaces between you and the next car. This will give you the heads up to either brake or accelerate based on traffic conditions.

In rush hour, drivers are in a constant accelerate/brake cycle. That's a lot of wasted energy! Tuning your driving habits to traffic conditions can save you a lot of gas.

For example if you notice traffic is slowing down in front of you, immediately take your foot of the accelerator and coast. Sure you might grow to be about 6 cars apart, but the guy in front of you probably will have to brake to a full stop!

The 1-2 seconds that he is stopped you can coast to his position. It's even possible that you might not even have to use your brakes, because traffic will start up prior to catching up with him. Not bad, huh?

Taming the Hills
You can save a lot of gas going downhill. Take your foot of the gas and coast. Again, the distance between the car in front of you will grow temporarily, but by the end of the hill, you'll be almost on top of that son-of-a-bitch. Many drivers accelerate while on the hill and have to brake at the bottom, because they are approaching 10-15mph over the speed limit. Give your engine a break, let the hill do the work.

On the flip side, going uphill can be a drain on gas consumption. It can be kept in check if you gently ease on the accelerator. Every time your car revs up you are wasting gas. Keep it in check and you are golden.

The lights
If the light has been green for awhile then it is probably wise to not accelerate too much. There is no sense rushing to a light that you might not make.

After the light turns green, accelerate gently. It's not the grand prix after all.

Keep it Under 60
If possible try to maintain 60mph on the highways. Most car engines lose efficiency below 45mph and higher than 65mph. This rule can be painful when people are whizzing around at 75mph. Then again... How often does this happen in rush hour?

A/C versus Rolled Down Windows
Another trick is to use the A/C sparingly. Full blast mode will eat up your fuel like no tomorrow. Similarly rolled down windows will create a lot of drag on your car if you are going faster than 35mph. Put on a t-shirt and some shorts prior to driving in the summer. You won't need as much A/C to cool down if you are piratically naked.

Maintain Your Auto
Make sure your car is well maintained. Having your tires properly inflated as well as changing your oil when you should will help you get the highest mpg.

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