Written By: Kristin Brocoff
With gas prices going up and up, it seems like you need to be a lucky lottery winner to keep up with the rising costs. For everyone who hasn’t collected on lotto winnings, CarMD has put together some tips to help keep your car (and your wallet) a little greener this St. Patrick’s Day and year round.
- Avoid unnecessary driving by planning your trips wisely, making efficient routes and stops, and even bringing a cooler so you can keep lunchmeat, milk and other perishables fresh a little longer.
- Consider carpooling to work, school or even happy hour. It will save you on gas, wear and tear, and even provide a sensible designated driver should you choose to imbibe.
- Lose weight (not you, your car!) While you’re working off all that corned beef and cabbage you eat on St. Patrick’s Day it’s a great time to clean out your trunk or truck bed. Removing an extra 100 pounds of clutter (weights, golf clubs, ski’s, dog kennels, etc.) from your vehicle can improve your gas mileage by several percentage points.
- Keep your car well maintained by following your vehicle’s service manual, getting regular oil changes and keeping that air filter clean.
- Ensure proper tire maintenance, tread and inflation. A properly inflated tire can save you 6 to 10 cents per gallon. (Ideal inflation should be listed on the inside panel of the driver’s door)
- Tighten the gas cap after every fill-up. A loose, cracked or missing gas cap can emit harmful emissions and reduce gas mileage, which can be painful as gas prices inch toward an all-time high.
- Limit idling. Idling for more than 10 second uses more gas and causes more pollution than simply parking and re-starting your engine.
- Select the most efficient vehicle for your lifestyle. If you don’t need an eight-seat SUV on a regular basis, don’t buy one. Instead, consider renting a bigger vehicle for the few occasions when you need it, and opting to purchase a more fuel-efficient vehicle for everyday needs.
- Get your annual or biannual emission test. A majority of states and some local agencies require you to get your car “slogged” before you can sell it or re-register it. It’s a great way to catch hidden problems that may be harming the environment and costing you extra in reduced fuel economy.
- Never drive for an extended period of time with an illuminated “check engine” light. Each of the five most common “check engine” problems have a negative impact on a vehicle’s fuel economy – some reduce MPG by as much as 40 percent! The no. 1 most common cause for that pesky dashboard warning light is a faulty oxygen sensor. When your O2 sensor is failing, it may seem like the car is driving just fine, but in reality it’s sucking down extra fuel. It costs less than $250 to fix, but can cost you more than $900 extra at the pump each year if you ignore it.
Have other great tips to help keep your vehicle lean, mean and green? We’d love to hear from you. Just post your comment below.