Cars are one of the biggest sources of pollution and greenhouse gases in our lives. However, most of us still need our cars to get around. If you can’t give up your car yet, you may be wondering what the best way to reduce its impact is. The answer is making sure you’re getting the best fuel efficiency. You’ll be improving your impact on the planet, as well as saving a little money, if you learn to drive your car so that you get the best mileage. Here’s how.
Pay attention to your speed, for one. It’s easy to feel like you’re in a hurry to get everywhere and be tempted to drive at high speeds. However, you should avoid driving over fifty-five miles per hour if you want better mileage. This means you’re less likely to end up in an accident, and you’ll get a better fuel efficiency.
Just going up to sixty-five means you’re burning ten percent more fuel, and at seventy miles an hour you’ve lost seventy-five percent of fuel economy, with numbers getting worse from there. As engines heat up at higher speeds, they burn gas more quickly, and they have to deal with greater air and road resistances.
Just remember to stay in the right hand lane if you’re on the highway, to be polite to others who haven’t realized the benefit of driving slower. If everyone drove fifty-five, we’d save a billion barrels of oil per year.
All the fuss about tire inflation is a good idea, too. Keeping your car’s tires inflated to the right pressure could extend their lives and improve your fuel efficiency, too. You’ll have more money in your pocket and there’ll be less impact from your driving. Every three pounds below the recommended pressure your tires are at, you lose one percent of your fuel efficiency.
That means that as a country, we’re losing money and increasing greenhouse gas emissions by not filling up the tires, too. This is because of rolling resistance. Tires roll down the road more easily when they’re fully inflated, and less easily when they’re soft. There are even tire models made to minimize rolling resistance, making them even more energy efficient.
Other things you can do are as simple as changing your driving habits. Do you hit the gas to get up to full speed between stop lights, only to have to brake at the next one? Why bother, when you can accelerate more slowly and coast through the light by taking a little longer to get there? The wait time is actually less when you do this.
Coasting your car more often is a good idea, too. Many hybrid owners do this to slow down instead of braking right away, but there’s no reason that people driving conventional cars can’t use this habit as well. Just make sure you watch the road behind you to prevent accidents or annoying other drivers. Tap your brakes enough to signal a slowdown (the lights come on before the brakes are engaged), if you want to be safe and courteous.