Gasoline prices are high and they may go higher yet. Most motorists are aware of the common ways to reduce fuel usage. Keep your tires properly inflated, drive at even steady speeds, and don't warm your engine at idle for long periods of time. These are tried and true tactics to reduce fuel consumption. However, the National Motorists Association is suggesting some lesser-known, but effective ways to save that expensive gasoline.
In recent years, the petroleum industry has developed synthetic motor oils that, while more costly, last longer and reduce friction within the engine. Reduced friction means improved fuel economy. Another offset for the high cost of these modern oils is that you should get more miles of service from your car before major repairs are needed. It is not uncommon for engines lubricated with synthetic oils to last two hundred thousand miles and still be reliable efficient powerplants.
All the electrical accessories in your car require power. That power comes from one source, the gasoline being burned in your engine. The mechanical energy from your engine is converted into electrical power via the alternator. It takes power to make this different form of energy. If your car has an automatic climate control system, there is a good chance that your air conditioner compressor is running almost all the time the climate control system is set in its Automatic mode. By setting the system on the Economy mode, you will shut off the compressor and in the process add a mile or two per gallon to your travel range.
Another electrical accessory that has reached fad status is Daytime Running Lights (DRLs). While the only independent study on the effectiveness of DRLs found that they do not reduce accidents, more and more cars are coming equipped with these lights. These lights use fuel, just like any other electrical appliance (they also irritate a lot of drivers). They use enough fuel that automakers, like GM, seek permission to disconnect the lights when doing government fuel economy tests. You can do the same. Sometimes removing a fuse will de-activate DRLs. Other cars will require that you take them to the dealership to have the DRLs disconnected.
Two engine components that fall into the "out of sight, out of mind" category are the air cleaner and the oxygen sensor. A fresh air cleaner can significantly improve fuel mileage and engine performance. Modern engines channel engine crankcase vapors through the air cleaner for burning in the cylinders. Over time, these vapors can seriously clog an air cleaner. A clogged air cleaner will cause the fuel mixture to become richer, resulting in greater fuel consumption and reduced engine performance.
The oxygen sensor is part of the system that regulates the air fuel mixture. It is on the "frontlines" and takes all the abuse for the fuel mixture system; namely the blast of hot exhaust gasses in the engine manifold. Oxygen sensors do not die with a bang and they will linger on in a functional stupor for a very long time. If you have over 50,000 miles on your car and you have not replaced the oxygen sensor, give it a try, you might be surprised at how your car runs better and gets better mileage.
Contrary to past claims, simply driving slow will not guarantee maximum fuel economy. Automobile engines have a range where they are most efficient. Driving in this range will yield the best fuel economy for the driving environment you're in. Under laboratory conditions, your car might achieve its best mileage at 43 miles per hour. However, this is not a practical speed for driving on the Interstate. What you may discover is that your car gets its best mileage on the Interstate if you hold a steady speed of 65 or 70 mph. Your fuel consumption may increase by driving slower or faster than this speed. Much of the advantage will come from driving a steady speed in sync with the rest of traffic. Try it, you'll like it.