By Ken Freund
• Keep your engine properly tuned and perform all factory recommended vehicle maintenance, especially spark plugs, air- and fuel-filters.
• Avoid excess idling; you get zero mpg at idle. When waiting for several minutes or longer (such as a long, slow-moving train, or road construction stoppages, shut the engine off.
• When starting a cold engine, let it idle long enough to circulate the oil and for the engine to run smoothly. However, rather than letting it idle for a long period to warm up, drive it gently (at less than half throttle) until it reaches normal operating temperature.
• Drive more slowly. You’ll get substantially better fuel economy at 55 mph than at 65 or 70 (often as much as 20% improvement).
• On fairly level roads, use cruise control to maintain a steady pace.
• Look farther ahead and anticipate traffic lights and other slowdowns.
• Don’t use air conditioning when you can use vents. Also, the defrost position uses the air conditioning, too, so use it only as needed.
• Make sure you use the correct oil viscosity for the anticipated temperature range. Oil that is unnecessarily thick (higher SAE viscosity number) will reduce fuel mileage slightly.
• At least once a month, check tire pressures and make sure they’re at the manufacturer’s recommended pressure based on load-inflation tables.
• Measure tire pressures before starting out when they are cool, and visually check the tires just before you get back into your vehicle after a stop.
• Time your trip to avoid traveling during peak traffic times in urban areas.
• Weight is the enemy of fuel economy. Remove any unnecessary items from storage compartments and don’t carry any more water than you’ll need, particularly if you are staying at campgrounds with hookups.
• Remove any cargo pods or other external devices when not needed, as they increase wind drag while driving.
• Don’t waste your money on so-called gas saving additives and products like onboard hydrogen generators.
• Don’t waste money on gasoline with a higher octane than your engine needs. Using unnecessarily higher grades does not help mileage, make your engine have more power, or last longer.
• Fuel prices tend to be highest near major highways and junctions. Shop to find the best fuel prices, as lower prices can save money just like getting better mileage will. Websites with prices include www.gasbuddy.com, gasprices.mapquest.com and www.gaspricecomparison.net.
• Fuel prices usually are highest during summer holidays, between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Plan trips closer to home during these periods and take those longer journeys afterward.
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