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Seven Days: Vermont Car Blog

September 09, 2008

4 Top Tips for Saving Gas

You can't do much about the price of gas, but you can do a lot to reduce the amount of gas you use, which will result in significant savings.

#1) Keep it steady: You can save more than 30% of the fuel you regularly use by keeping your speed at a steady rate. That means avoiding fast starts and backing off the accelerator sooner as you approach a traffic light or stop sign. Let the car coast to a stop instead of braking hard at the last minute. The best possible situation is to avoid stopping at all. If you time it right and get a little lucky, the light will change to green before you get there. There is a huge difference in getting a car up to speed from a stop vs. one that is already moving. No kidding, right?

#2) Don't speed: My wife's 4-cylinder Scion XB, you know those rolling boxes, is rated at 30 MPG city, 34 MPG Highway. When I drive it on Interstate 89, usually at 75-80 mph, it sucks gas like a 1970 Cadillac. When we take it down Route 22A, traveling at a more comfortable speed of 55 mph, the gauge doesn't move. The difference is amazing. Each car has a sweet spot and it is going to be in the 45-60 mph range. At 70 mph it really starts dropping off. You can save 12-20% in fuel by not speeding.

#3) Stop idling: Rule-of-thumb, if you're going to be stopped for more than a minute, turn the car off. This is exactly what Hybrids do, and it's a significant part of what helps them achieve their low mpg ratings.

#4) Use your overdrive transmission: An Overdrive Transmission reduces rpms by switching to a higher gear, typically at speeds above 45 mph. Your engine is working less to achieve the same speed. Same speed, less gas. If you've got it, use it. It's a no-brainer.

Gas prices are going to stay high. As third world economies kick into gear (no pun intended ;-) their consumption of fuel will compete aggressively with our own. The sooner we start to drive smarter, the better off we we'll be. It's not going to be easy though. I enjoy driving. It's like a game for me. I guess I just need to try and change the rules a bit.

Safe travels,


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