Improving Fuel Economy

Saturday, March 15, 2008
OK, you know driving isn't good for the environment, but you're going to do it anyway. Here's how to substantially increase your fuel economy without buying a new car:

1- Drive deliberately; accelerate gradually. A car uses a lot of fuel when it's accelerating rapidly.

2- Drive 55 mph on the highway. This makes a huge difference. It maximizes fuel efficiency by reducing wind resistance, which exponentially increases with speed. This reduces gas consumption by more than 20% relative to a speed of 75 mph. 60 mph is almost as good, if 55 is to slow.

3- Draft a truck. Large trucks with flat, square backs leave a massive low-pressure zone behind them, which you can exploit to save gas. At 20 feet behind a standard 18-wheeler, you will use about 27% less fuel. If that's too close, you still save 20% at 50 feet, and 11% at 100 feet. Be careful because trucks have a blind spot behind them, and some truckers do not appreciate drafting.

4- Keep your car well-maintained. Clogged filters, faulty oxygen sensors and flat tires all hurt fuel efficiency.

5- Lose the cargo. The more weight you have in your car, the more fuel is required to get it up a hill or accelerate it.

6- Turn off accessories. AC is the biggest power drain, but the fan used to circulate air also draws power.