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Save Gas by Changing your Driving Style

January 21, 2007

Do you think that your fuel mileage is only a product of the type of car you drive? Well, think again. Of course, a Sports Utility Vehicle will eat up more gasoline than a small economy car or even a hybrid. That is just simple Physics. But even if you do drive a large gas-guzzler, there are numerous things you can do to your driving style in order to improve your fuel economy. In the short term, the savings may not seem like a lot, but over a year, you can save hundreds of dollars on gas by following the simple driving tips mentioned in this article.

The basic principle behind saving fuel is to use the engine as little as possible, obviously. In other words, you want to keep the engine revolutions as low as possible while maintaining a normal driving speed for the particular road that you are on. Using the engine as little as possible also involves taking advantage of common traffic situations and road conditions in order to let your car coast instead of using the engine.

Let's look at some specific examples. If you are driving a car with an automatic transmission, you can't really do much to save fuel while cruising on the freeway since the transmission selects gears by itself. If you drive a manual, you should keep the car in top gear when cruising on the freeway. You probably learned that when you first started driving a manual transmission car. Another important tip is to get into the top gear as soon as possible. That is, try shifting up earlier than you usually do so that you do not rev the engine as high before shifts. This doesn't seem like it would make much of a difference, but over many up shifts, you will save an appreciable amount of fuel.

Another neat trick that saves fuel on the freeway is tucking in behind another vehicle (preferably larger than yours) in order to let the car in front of you "break" the air for you. That way, your car does not have to fight as hard against the air resistance, and you save fuel since your engine is not being stressed as much as usual. Of course, be careful when you're using this technique! Maintain a safe driving distance between you and the car directly in front of you. This technique is most effective at 70 mph or greater.

Arguably the most important aspect of saving gas is the way that you accelerate and decelerate. When you accelerate, try to give your car plenty of room to come up to speed so you don't find yourself pushing the gas pedal to the floor when you're getting onto a freeway or coming out of a parking lot onto a busy street. In essence, try to make all of your motions very slow and gradual, not jerky. Pretend that there is an egg lying under your gas pedal. If you press down too fast, the egg will crack, but if you press down slowly, the egg will roll out from under the pedal.

Being gradual also applies to steering in addition to acceleration and deceleration. When you steer in a fast or jerky way, you scrub off speed because the tires are fighting to maintain grip with the road. By making smooth, gradual turns, you maintain the momentum of the car and do not have to use the engine as much to make up for speed losses.

Finally, one of the easiest tips to learn and get used to is coasting. I see people all the time accelerating when there is a red light in front of them and then getting on the brakes when they are right in front of the light. There's no reason to race up to a red light when you know you're going to come to a stop anyway. Simply let your car coast, and then use the brakes when you are close to the red light. This will save you fuel as well as protect your brakes from abuse. With these easy-to-follow tips, you should get great fuel savings from any type of car.