Almost every driver is concerned about the fuel efficiency of their vehicles. Wasting gas costs money, and gasoline isn’t cheap (neither are the cars themselves, car repairs or auto insurance). So Americans are trying to be more aware of their driving behavior so they can make the most out of the gas they put into their tank.
The last thing they want to do is become a gas hog.
You’re not a gas hog, are you? Take this quiz and find out. Here are 12 driving habits: figure out whether they’re true or false in terms of fuel efficiency.
“You might be a gas hog if you are…”
1. Driving around with a dirty air filter. False. In older engines, this was a problem, but today’s engines have computerized sensors which constantly monitor the air/fuel ratio. So gas mileage isn’t adversely affected – although your acceleration may be a bit sluggish.
2. Making sudden stops and starts. True. Accelerating quickly and stopping abruptly reduces fuel economy over time. So take your time approaching and departing from red lights.
3. Refusing to warm up your car’s engine in cold weather. False. Again, vehicles of yesteryear operated with chokes and carburetors, so warming them up was smart. But modern engines are fuel-injected and run best at operating temperature — which you’ll reach faster by driving right after you turn on the ignition.
4. Not filling up when the air is cool. False. The idea behind pumping gas in cooler air (like at night or in the morning) was to increase its density, which got you more fuel for your money. But most stations store their gas underground, where it’s cooler — so the temperature change is usually negligible.
5. Driving with underinflated tires. True. This is one of the easiest ways to maximize your miles-per-gallon numbers. Check your tire pressure regularly and make sure they’re inflated to the proper PSI levels.
6. Keeping your engine idling while sitting at a long light. True. Here’s the rule of thumb: it uses less gas to stop and start your car than it does to idle for more than 30 seconds. So if you pull up to a traffic light that has just turned red, go ahead and shut the engine down (in some countries, this is the law).
7. Using regular gasoline instead of premium grades. False. Unless your car specifically states that premium gas is required, regular gasoline will net you the same fuel economy as the higher grades. The only advantage premium may give you is in acceleration and performance, not fuel efficiency.
8. Not buying tires with low rolling resistance. False. Rolling resistance is the amount of energy needed for the tires to roll. Some people will tell you that minimizing rolling resistance boosts fuel economy. But when it comes to saving money on gas, buying tires with low rolling resistance is not as important as getting those which give you superior all-around performance.
9. Driving with open windows. False. Rolling down the highway with your windows open does not have a significant effect on your gas usage. But doing so with closed windows and a blowing air conditioner may shave off a few miles per gallon.
10. Driving around with extra weight in your trunk or cargo area (or on your roof). True. The heavier your car is, the more energy is needed by the engine to power it. And that results in more fuel consumption per mile.
11. Buying fuel at “off-brand” gas stations. False. Most off-brand stations purchase their gas from larger oil companies anyway. And federal law dictates that the gas contain certain fuel additives which benefit your engine and the environment, so it doesn’t differ greatly from the more expensive gas providers.
12. Driving with misaligned tires. True. If your car is out of alignment, your tires are wearing out faster and your engine is working harder. Getting your tires aligned could give you up to a 10% boost in fuel efficiency.