Gas pricesWith the price of gasoline rising without ends, how are we to save some money and help the environment. Let’s face it, even the best hybrids out there are still quite expensive to own or to fill up. And the micro cars like the Smart are still too expensive. There are still too many obstacles for hydrogen power cars, and I doubt that this will change in the next 5 years. So how can we save a bit of money and still use our “geek mobile”?Most of us have purchased a smaller car, a compact or small sedan. Geeks have long ago dropped the idea of the SUV or luxury car (even though we secretly wish we could drive one of those nice Escalades or Hummers). Why spend 80,000$ on a car when you can use that money for a nice big HDTV, new computer, game console, and other gadgets. And we can also reafirm ourselves with the fact that we are helping the environment (well on using a smaller car, because all those gadgets are not that healthy either, but thats another discussion).So what can we do to increase gas mileage?There are the obvious decisions like:

  • Keep you car in good shape by doing oil changes often (the average is 5000 km)
  • Keep an eye on tire pressure (Your manual will have the right pressure for you car depending of the season)
  • Keep a clean air filter. Gas mileage is heavily impacted by the air to gas ratio. Bad airflow results directly in bad mileage.
  • Do not drive too fast, because the faster you go the more wind resistance you get, the more gas you use. You might think that you are saving time by going 120km/h on the highway, but those 5 minutes you saved are costing you in gas and you might get a nice ticket also.
  • Use winter tires during winter for better traction. Because the engine needs to work harder if you don’t have enough traction. That means more fuel.
  • In the summer, don’t keep you car running for more then 2 minutes. First of all it’s not good for the environment, and if the interior of you car is too hot, keep the windows open and after about 2 minutes of driving it will have cooled down and the air conditioner will easily take car of the rest.
  • In winter, warm up your car for at least 5 minutes during cold days. If you must leave in a hurry during a cold winter day without warming up the engine, try to keep the rpm low for a while. Because cold oil in a cold engine results in a higher usage of gas.
  • Use higher octane gas when you fill up. You don’t have to go for the racing fuel, but a higher octane gas will last quite a bit longer and you will end up saving, even if it’s a couple of cents higher in price.
  • And also use you car when only necessary. If you live in an urban area, why not use public transport to go to work. You will save on gas, and on stress.

There are also a few urban myths out there about better fuel mileage, but I really want to address two of them:

  • Fuelling up in the morning because the gas temperature is lower. As most of you know, gas volume is calculated a about 15ºC, so according to this myth, if you fuel up in the morning when the temperature is usually lower, you will get more gas for you money, because fuel expends when its temperature is higher and you will end up with less fuel in you tank. Well, that might have been true 30 or 40 years ago, and still might be if you fuel up in derelict, old, gas station in the middle of nowhere. But today’s gas station use temperature control on there tank and pumps, and gas is always kept at about 15ºC all year long. So even if the gasoline expends a bit during hot summer days, the difference will be negligible.
  • Don’t wait for your gas tank to be empty to fuel up because you will have more air in your tank and that will limit the amount of gas you can poor in. That could only be true if you tank was pressurized, and even if it was, you wouldn’t be able to fill it up without drawing the air out before. Gas tanks are designed to let air flow in and out so that gas can be easily pumped in and out of them. They also have to let fumes out because of the danger of explosion that this might cause. The fuel pump in your car’s engine is a simple device used to fight gravity, not to pump a pressurize fuel from your gas tank. Also, the less gas you have the less weight your car is carrying. That means better fuel mileage. But be careful, if you drive until your car runs on empty, you might start to get some sludge and dirt that accumulate over time at the bottom of your gas tank. Try to have your gas tank purged by your mechanic if you suspect you have sludge buildup in your gas tank. Ask him about it the next time you go for a check up.

There are plenty more, but in the end, all you need to do is use your good judgment, if someone tells you about this great technique he has been using, just do a bit of research before you try it out. You never know what harm you can do to your car, yourself, or to the environment for that matter.Be reasonable on your car usage and you won’t be too troubled by those high gas prices for at least a while longer.

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