Thursday, June 17, 2010

Drive Smarter and More Fuel Efficient This Summer

Memorial Day weekend marked the start of road trip season, when families pack up their cars, trucks and SUVs and take off for destinations across Loudoun County, Virginia and the country.

Have you ever wondered why we drive on our vacations?

There are numerous reasons, including to save money on airfare, reduce the hassle of airport parking and the stress of air travel. But with gas prices reaching an average of nearly 60 cents more than this time last year, do the savings really add up?

At the recent national average of $2.86 per gallon of regular gasoline (June 14), budget-conscious consumers will want to take steps to avoid filling up more often than necessary. So whether you’re traveling to the beach or just to the grocery store, here are some efficient driving tips to avoid that old seasonal affliction -- "pain at the pump."

Before You Hit the Road
  • Inflate Your Tires. Keeping your tires properly inflated is a simple measure to improve gas mileage by around 3 percent, for annual savings of up to 20 gallons of gasoline, or up to $45.
  • Use the Right Oil. Using the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil, including re-refined motor oil, improves gas mileage by 1 to 2 percent, resulting in annual savings of up to $30.
  • Get a Tune-Up. Fixing a car that is noticeably out of tune or has failed an emissions test can improve its gas mileage by an average of 4 percent – saving up to 25 gallons of gasoline and about $55 in a year’s time. Fixing a faulty oxygen sensor can improve mileage by as much as 40 percent – saving up to 245 gallons of gasoline or up to $570.
When You Drive
  • Ease Up on the Gas Pedal. Speeding, rapid acceleration and rapid braking can lower gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds. Drivers can save up to 91 cents per gallon of gasoline by driving sensibly on the highway. (Cost savings are based on an assumed fuel price of $2.86/gallon.)
  • Use Cruise Control. Making use of a car’s cruise control feature cuts fuel consumption in most cases.
  • Slow Down! Gas mileage usually decreases rapidly above 60 miles per hour. In fact, each five mph over 60 is like paying an additional 24 cents per gallon for gas. So keep a moderate and steady pace on the highway.
  • Don’t Idle. You can’t get worse than 0 miles per gallon – which is what you get when your car is idling. So unless you’ll be stopping for less than a minute or so, turn off the engine while at the roadside.
Find additional gas- and money-saving tips at the Alliance’s Drive $marter Challenge website – For the most up-to-date stats on fuel economy, visit

  For the latest Loudoun County traffic news and information, subscribe to Loudoun County Traffic via your favorite RSS reader, or get Loudoun County Traffic by e-mail.

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