Small business owners look for every cent of savings they can find. So, as we watch the price of gas float perilously between $3 and $4 this summer, you’ll find it beneficial to heed these Car Care Council fuel-saving tips:
- Check your cap. About 17 percent of vehicles on the road have gas caps that are either damaged, loose or missing altogether, causing 147 million gallons of gas to vaporize every year.
- Check the tires, too. When tires aren’t inflated properly it’s like driving with the parking brake on and can cost a mile or two per gallon.
- And the spark plugs. A vehicle can have either four, six or eight spark plugs, which fire as many as three million times every 1,000 miles, resulting in a lot of heat, electrical and chemical erosion. A dirty spark plug causes misfiring, which wastes fuel. So replace spark plugs regularly.
- And air filter. An air filter clogged with dirt, dust and bugs chokes off the air and creates a “rich” mixture – too much gas being burned for the amount of air, which wastes gas and causes the engine to lose power. Replacing a clogged air filter can improve gas mileage by as much as 10 percent.
- Lighten up. Leave what you won’t use at home to maximize mileage, especially anything on the roof. Bike, luggage roof racks, and poorly packed tools and equipment create drag too. Carry everything inside the vehicle if possible. A loaded roof rack lowers gas mileage more than the same weight carried inside.
Not to mention such common-sense tips as:
- Easy, partner! Aggressive driving is rough on mileage; the council estimates as much as 33 percent on the highway and 5 percent city is lost.
- Avoid excessive idling. Sitting idle yields precisely zero miles per gallon.
- Be a smart shopper. You price everything else, why not gas? www.fueleconomy.gov, Gas Buddy www.gasbuddy.com and Gas Price Watch www.gaspricewatch.com are good guides to the cheapest gas nearest you. If you have business in a county with cheaper prices, fill up there. Look for clusters when refueling, too, and avoid highway exits with just one or two stations. Competition helps drive down prices.
- Easy on the AC. Does the air conditioning really need to be blasting when it’s 70 degrees? Air conditioning can drop mileage by 2 mpg; rolling down the windows also decreases fuel efficiency slightly, so use the air vent.
- Fill it up with regular. Most of today’s cars and trucks (approximately 80 percent) run exactly the same on regular gasoline, which generally costs less than mid-grade or premium.
- Shun the sun. It’s best to fill up in the early morning or late evening. Gasoline is most dense during cool weather and is charged by volume, not density.
- Ditch the car. Biking, walking, skateboarding, taking the bus are the best ways to reduce your gas bill. Let’s face it, driving can be stressful, and you don’t have to be a neurophysiologist to know stress isn’t good for you.