Test-proven tips by Consumer Reports to help driver’s save money
KSNF/KODE — JP Morgan recently predicted that the national average for retail gasoline could surpass $6 a gallon by August.
That prediction now has people looking for ways to get the most out of a tank of gas.
There are, in fact, several simple ways to maximize the fuel economy of your vehicle.
Some are obvious, but some are not as apparent.
Here’s a look at several fuel-economy tips, put together by Consumer Reports experts.
Check Around For Gas Prices
Apps and websites such as GasBuddy (which you can find HERE) can show local gas prices, making it easy to find good prices in your area or if you need to travel.
Generally, gas stations well off major highways and away from city centers tend to have better prices, as do warehouse stores and some major travel centers.
Be Aware of Aerodynamics
Remove roof racks when they are not being used. At highway speeds, more than 50 percent of engine power goes to overcoming aerodynamic drag. Don’t add to that by carrying unneeded things on the roof.
Consumer Reports did fuel-economy tests at highway speed on a Nissan Altima and Toyota RAV4 with a roof rack, a tail-hitch rack and a rooftop box. Carrying two mountain bikes on the roof had the biggest impact. The Altima lost 13 mpg, going from 46 mpg to 33 mpg. The RAV4 lost 7 mpg, dropping to 32 mpg from 39 mpg.
There’s even a loss when driving with an empty roof rack. The Altima dropped 5 mpg, and the Toyota lost 2 mpg. The Nissan lost 12 mpg with the bikes on the hitch-mounted rack, while the RAV4 was down only 5 mpg. The bikes stuck out beyond the sides of the sedan, which created extra drag. They were mostly hidden behind the wider, boxier RAV4’s bodywork.
The rooftop box resulted in a 9 mpg decrease for the Altima and a 5 mpg drop for the RAV4. Overall, the aerodynamic drag doesn’t hurt the more boxy RAV4 as much as the sleeker Altima.
“The more you have dragging on your vehicle as you’re going down the road, the more gas you’re going to use. There was a study done by Consumer Reports where they had one vehicle with a roof rack and one vehicle without the roof rack on it. The vehicle without gained several miles to the gallon just because of the lack of drag that was on the vehicle. So it really makes a pretty big difference,” said Tabitha Ruhl, Manager of Joplin Transmission and Auto Center.
Obey Posted Speed Limits
When you drive, follow the speed limits and drive smoothly. Your driving habits can play a significant role in fuel economy. A recent Consumer Reports test showed this:
“A recent CR test shows this: We measured gas mileage while driving at a steady 55, 65, and 75 mph in a Nissan Altima and Toyota RAV4. We found that reducing speed from 65 mph to 55 mph improved fuel economy by 6 mpg in the Altima and 8 mpg in the RAV4. The penalty of cruising at 75 mph, rather than 65 mph, was almost 7 mpg in the Altima and 6 mpg in the RAV4. Higher speeds exact a toll in fuel consumption. Another way to look at it: Speeding up from 55 to 75 mph is like moving from a compact car to a large SUV. Beyond fuel concerns, speeding is, of course, a safety risk.”
Consumer Reports Test
Good Quality Gas Makes A Difference
Consumer Reports typically recommends using Top-Tier Gas, which is gas that is held to a higher standard through the voluntary participation of numerous gas station brands, including Chevron, Exxon, Mobil and Shell. Beware that many familiar brands do not have Top-Tier gas.
The goal is to feed your car good-quality gas whenever possible, but it is fair to be flexible during a shortage or when traveling. The detergents in Top Tier gas can eventually clean any engine deposits that may accumulate when good-quality gas is more readily available.
No Need For Premium – Unless Required
Save money and skip premium gas unless it is “required.” This is indicated on the fuel door. Many cars list “recommended,” which means it is optional. If there is only midgrade or premium fuel available, this will work fine in a car that is rated for regular gasoline.
Keep Your Tire Pressure In Check
Tires generally lose about 1 psi (pound per square inch) a month. Having tires with lower pressure than what is recommended on your doorjamb sticker can affect performance, tire longevity and fuel economy.
Avoid Hard Acceleration and Breaking
Frequent bursts of acceleration and braking reduced an older Toyota Camry’s mileage by 2 to 3 mpg. Once up to speed, maintain a steady pace. The harder you accelerate, the more fuel you use.
Unnecessary braking wastes the fuel you used to get up to speed. Drive smoothly and anticipate the movement of traffic. Smooth acceleration, cornering and braking also extend the life of the engine, transmission, brakes and tires.
Don’t Use The AC
In mild weather, if you can get by without it, even if you open the windows, it will give incremental savings, says Consumer Reports. But once it gets hot, having AC on to cool the cabin and lower humidity is a wise investment in your comfort and ability to stay alert while driving.
“With all of these tips in mind, it really just boils down to the cost savings. I mean, you’re gonna save money if you maintain your vehicle properly, and you do the maintenance on it like you’re supposed to. You’re gonna save money, especially with $5 a gallon gas, every one of us is going to be looking for a way to save a gallon or two,” said Tabitha Ruhl – Manager, Joplin Transmission and Auto Center.