from Goss’ Garage by Pat Goss

Every day I get questions about how to get better gas mileage. The questions usually revolve around miracle gadgets that supposedly defy the laws of physics and convert your gas-sucking behemoth into a fuel sipping lightweight. Let’s get those out of the way right now because they don’t work. Actually they can’t work unless the geniuses who try to steal your money have indeed reversed the laws of physics. That of course would be earth shattering news and would make headlines worldwide. So far I haven’t seen any headlines or Nobel candidates for cow magnets and HHO generators.

So what can you do? Consider a tune up, that’s what, but not a tune up for your car because they really no longer exist, a tune up for you! Yeah, give yourself a driver tune up and you’ll save a lot of money at the pump. But what is a driver tune up? It begins with driving attitude, aggressive driving and road rage wastes lots of gas. Whether you realize it or not, streets are not for competition they are a convenient way to get to where you need to be efficiently and safely. Acting like a race driver usually only saves a few seconds per trip and really sucks-up gas. Easy on the “go” pedal for substantial fuel savings.

Another thing many drivers don’t comprehend is that stopping a car improperly wastes a lot of gas. How? Why? Quite simply by throwing away energy. It takes energy to make a vehicle move and unless the energy needed to get the car moving, is used to keep it moving it’s wasted. So accelerating hard from a stop to get up to speed in a hurry (that burns gas) then applying the brakes hard to stop means a large portion of the energy used to make the car move (burning gas) is literally thrown away during the braking process. In this case the built up energy derived from burning fuel is not used to move the car but rather it’s converted to heat in the brakes and expelled into the air around the wheels.

Other things to consider are weight; it takes more fuel to move more weight. I’m not talking about your love handles nope it’s all that stuff that collects inside a car and in its trunk over time. Even a full tank of fuel when it isn’t needed decreases fuel economy. Speeding wastes gas because the faster you go the more gas you use per mile.

Of course there are the basics we hear so much about such as tire pressure, alignment, fresh fluids, and all the other maintenance items. They all add to economy when they’re done and subtract when they’re ignored. Then there are “the who is right things” like air conditioning on and windows up or air conditioning off and windows down? Actually it’s both. At city speeds windows down and air conditioning off, but at highway speeds windows up and air conditioning on.

Finally, rethink how comfortable you absolutely have to be. I was sitting outside a drug store the other afternoon waiting for my wife and was amazed at how many people were sitting in their cars with the engines running. I guess they had to have those cool breezes when it really wasn’t that hot outside. The worst gas mileage in the world is delivered by a car that is sitting still with its engine running. If you think those monster SUVs get wretched gas mileage they’re nothing compared to your idling subcompact. The worst SUV on the planet gets a thousand times better gas mileage because when a car is sitting still it gets zero miles per gallon. Drive gently — see you next time.