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Saturday, June 7, 2008

Getting More Out of a Tank of Gasoline

With the price of gasoline reaching ridiculous levels of over $1.30 a litre, I thought I'd share with you a few tips to stretch your mileage. The usual motherhood statements of drive less, and plan your routes to minimize travel, still obviously apply.
  • Optimal mileage is reached at about 80 kph (50 mph). So slow down when you're on the freeways. Get in the rightmost lane and do the speed limit or a bit under.

  • Acceleration costs you gas, significant gas. Try to time your speed as you approach red lights to avoid actually having to stop, and thus reduce acceleration. Yes, this means coasting. Coast as much as possible instead of active braking. Active braking is a indicator that you stayed on the accelerator pedal too long. Simply try to time things such that you're doing less active braking, more coasting, and thus less accelerating.

  • Maintain your momentum as much as you can without compromising safety. Try to know your car and don't unnecessarily slow down when you don't have to, especially around corners.

  • Use the downslope of hills to your advantage to help you get up the other side. Allow your speed to bleed down somewhat on the upslope, don't press down a lot more on the accelerator just to maintain your speed going up hill. Gently accelerate back up to speed once you're over the crest.

  • Keep your tires inflated to the level indicated by the sticker in your car. Under-inflated tires will hurt your mileage.

  • Check and change your car's air filter at least every 6 months. Reduced engine airflow will hurt your mileage.

  • Use your air conditioning sparingly. Turn up the temperature in your cabin by a couple of degrees. The compressor puts a significant load on your engine.

  • Accelerate gently. Hard acceleration sucks a lot of gas.

  • Only fill your tank to the halfway point. By leaving out those extra 25-30 litres of fuel, you have effectively taken 40 lbs out of your car. In fact, if everybody did that, it would create a temporary glut of fuel and prices would come down, at least for a little while.

As always, never compromise your safety. Don't zoom around corners if you don't feel safe doing so, and when you're coasting keep your foot ready to hit the brake and pay attention to the road. Also, be aware of drivers behind you and try not to piss them off with your frugal moves.


Andrew said...

Would be interesting to see what is the "break-even" point for paying the extra money for a hybrid in terms of fuel savings versus the extra cost of the hybrid.

Jim Somerville said...

Let's say that you save 3 litres per 100 km by driving a hybrid. I don't know how accurate that is, but it's probably in the right range I would think. Let's say you drive 20,000 km per year. So that's 600 litres per year saved. At $1.30 per litre, that's $780 per year. Over 10 years, that's $7800. If over that 10 years gas averages $2.00 a litre (god help us) then you've saved $12,000 in gas. If you only drive 15,000 km in a year then you'll save $9,000 on $2 gas.

This does not consider other costs of ownership. Are hybrids more expensive to maintain? Can you actually get the battery to last 10 years?

Jim Somerville said...

Just an update that I'm getting about 20% more out of a tank of gas since I started following the guidelines in my blog.

uno1taxpayer said...

Like your tips

I have been driving a 1995 GMC Sierra Dually 3500 diesel 4X4 extended cab with long box and heavy duty suspension back and forth to work (50 km return) since my husband and I bought it new in July 1996. At present it is giving me a few headaches but...I love the view from the driver's seat, feeling every bump in the road and above all I do not have to worry about people cutting me off in traffic.

A major portion of my drive to work is done on a busy two lane highway and I always drive the speed limit. At 80 km/hr I feel like a parade marshall. Not only do I save on fuel, so do the 12 to 15 cars and trucks following me.