Driving habits major influence on fuel costs

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

While our friends in the oil industry are enjoying prices above $100 a barrel, the rest of us, especially those of us with long commutes, are feeling the pinch of fueling up at nearly $4 a gallon.

Whether we blame the current U.S. administration, the Russians, or someone else for rising gas prices, thereís not much we can do about it in the short term.

Except there really is something we can do next time we have to get into the car.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, adjusting your speed downward can more than make up for the current higher prices of gas.

The study found that thanks to aerodynamic drag, each 5 mph you drive over 50 mph is like paying an additional 16 cents per gallon for gas.

Driving 65 on the highway means paying an extra $5.52 per fill-up, or more than $264 per year, according to the USDOE, and driving 65 instead of 75 mph results in similar savings.

Slower is cheaper, then, right?

Well, up to a point. Cars are the most fuel-efficient at 35 to 45 mph, according to gasbuddy.com, and driving too slow, with many starts and stops, can drastically reduce your gas mileage.

Driving too slow requires more gasoline than if the engine is allowed to carry more momentum.

But thereís a lot more to saving gas than easing off on your right foot, according to AAA.

Some of its tips:

-- When buying a new vehicle, do you really need that optional larger engine? Maybe not.

-- Keep your tires aired up at the proper pressure, not only for better mileage but longer tire life.

-- Avoid excessive idling to warm up the engine.

-- Accelerating more slowly allows the automatic transmission to upshift into higher, more efficient gears sooner.

-- Use cruise control unless the roadway is slippery.

-- Plan ahead to combine errands.

-- Clean out the junk in your trunk for better mileage.

-- Donít buy gasoline of higher octane than your car requires.

-- Consider taking advantage of fuel loyalty programs.

Yes, outside forces control how much we pay for transportation fuel, but our personal driving habits have a lot to do with how much of it we have to buy.

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