How to Counter Rising Fuel Prices Both Conventional and Unconventional Methods
The battle against rising gas prices
Gas prices are hitting our pockets harder every day as they rise beyond reason. With the current economy where cash is a rare thing, high gas prices aren't helping out. The worst is that while maybe 20 years ago cars were a luxury for those with the money, nowadays it's a necessity as we commute daily to our jobs, schools or anywhere else. Those prices keep steadily rising and cutting into your day to day budget, and you can't avoid it, at least completely. Here are some strategies to save gas and money, while still enjoying your ride.
The usual ways
Generally when gas starts hitting your pockets, everybody has some advice, and while they are mostly true, some of them should be given a second thought. This is the "usual" list:
- Drive less - Use the bike, the bus or train. Don't go if you don't have to.
- Reduce weight - Weight is your biggest opponent, don't carry anything not necessary in your car.
- Drive slower - No need to go 100 mph but 50-60 mph is totally fine, in fact most cars and their gears are set up to perform best on speeds 30-60 mph depending on type and model.
- Turn the car off - Yeah, the car eats up more fuel when you start it up then when it's idling but that idling advantage lasts only for 20 to 30 seconds because idling uses a fixed amount of fuel over time. If you're stuck in a traffic jam or waiting for somebody in front of a store (and you're not robbing a bank) then turning of your engine is a good way to save money.
- Inflate the tires - Unless driving off road regularly, well inflated tires increase fuel economy by 2-3%.
- Maintain your car - Both in general and service. A clean car spends less because it weighs less and is more aerodynamic. Clean air filters help the fuel to burn better and deliver more bang for the buck.
Not so often mentioned tips
There has been a lot of debate around some of these techniques of fuel saving but most of them are by now shown whether they work or not. Some are more intuitive than others but here's the list so you can decide on your own:
- Don't brake - At least not as much as you do, use the engine to slow you down, release the throttle and if you can manually shift down. Use the brakes only to fully stop and to avoid dangerous situations. Plan ahead and adjust your speed so that you won't have to stop for as much red lights as you usually do. Braking is pure wasting of your gas that you spent to accelerate to your desired speed.
- Turn off your air condition - The air condition can put real stress on the engine and significantly reduce your mpg. Roll down the windows and use the natural breeze to cool down. It's also better for your health.
- Turn on your air condition - You hear right, roll up those windows and turn the AC on at higher speeds because the wind turbulence of open windows at higher speeds (50+ mph) produce enough drag to slow you down and impact the performance more than the AC.
- Use the shift stick - If you have one of course, drive in the highest gear possible without overloading the engine. Over drive is your friend, it's meant to be used for those longer less throttle active rides.
- Draft - Drive behind another vehicle, possibly larger at some safe distance to reduce wind drag and improve your mpg.
- Reduce drag - Take those extra attachments off of your car. If you won't use the bike rack on your roof, take it off.
- Tank less fuel - The more fuel in your tank the more weight you're putting on your car. Half tank is generally more then enough for day to day activity.
- Use proper oil - Too thick and it will just slow you down, too thin and your engine will heat up faster and waste more fuel.
- Eco tuning - These days tuning the chip of a car is a short and painless process which can greatly improve fuel economy.
The most fun advice
Most advice require you to either spend some money to save in the long run or advise you to drive slowly. Here is my and probably every pertolheads favorite piece of advice.
Accelerate sharply - The faster you get to cruising speeds the less fuel your save. Fuel combustion is most efficient at mid RPM's. Too low and you're over loading the engine and wasting fuel, too high and you're throwing in more than it requires. Don't push the engine to the red line but let it do what it's built for, to get you moving. Just watch out not to hit anything or anybody. Drive safe but efficient.
I hope you save up for a great vacation with these tips.