Better MPG Tips & Winter MPG
There are several steps you can take to maximize your fuel economy:
Properly inflate tires
Only 17 percent of cars have all four tires properly inflated, yet the U.S. Department of Energy reports that proper tire inflation can improve fuel economy by up to three percent. It’s important not only to check tire pressures at least once a month, but also make sure it’s done correctly; a survey found 85 percent of motorists don’t know how to properly check tire pressures. Check the pressures when the tires are cold and have not been driven recently. Tires should be inflated to pressure levels recommended by the vehicle manufacturer, NOT the pressure levels stamped on the tire sidewall. The proper pressure levels can be found on a sticker on the driver’s side door jamb or in the owner’s manual.
(If you are in the area, drive on in and we will gladly check your tire pressure at no charge and with no appointment.)
Be gentle on the gas and brake pedals
One of the easiest and most effective ways to conserve fuel is to change driving styles. Instead of making quick starts and sudden stops, go easy on the gas and brake pedals. If there is a red light ahead, ease off the gas and coast up to it rather than waiting until the last second to brake. Once the light turns green, gently accelerate rather than making a quick start. The U.S. Department of Energy reports aggressive driving can lower a car’s fuel economy by up to 33 percent.
Drive the speed limit
Slowing down to observe the speed limit is safer and can conserve fuel. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that each 5 mph driven over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.24 per gallon for gas. Leave yourself plenty of time to reach your destination to avoid feeling rushed so you can arrive safely and with a little more fuel in the tank.
Plan errands in advance
When running errands try to combine multiple tasks into one trip. Several short trips starting with a cold engine each time can use twice as much gas as a longer multipurpose trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm. Also, plan the route in advance to drive the fewest miles.
Lighten the Load
A heavier vehicle uses more fuel. Lighten your vehicle by cleaning out the trunk, cargo areas and passenger compartments. Also try to avoid using a car’s roof rack to transport luggage or other equipment–especially over long distances on the highway. A loaded roof rack affects the vehicle aerodynamics and creates extra drag that reduces fuel economy.
Keep up-to-date on vehicle maintenance
Keeping a car running properly helps achieve maximum fuel economy. Be sure to follow the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule, and do not ignore vehicle warning lights that indicate something is wrong. Warning lights can signal problems that will greatly decrease a car’s fuel efficiency. Keep your air filter clean as well.
With a Toyota Hybrid you can also do the following:
Drive further ahead of yourself – meaning if you see a red light or brake lights ahead of you, instead of driving up and braking as usual, simply take your foot off the throttle and coast. Once you take your foot off the throttle the only thing holding you back is road and wind resistance.
Take advantage of any down-hill grade. Do the same thing; simply take your foot off the throttle and coast. Even a slight down grade will allow the vehicle to maintain speed longer. The Toyota Hybrids will not create engine braking like a traditional vehicle allowing you to take advantage of these situations to maximize your fuel economy.
As always, drive with care and be alert to your situation and surroundings when attempting to execute these MGP saving tips.
Here are some reasons why your mileage is worse in the winter:
Cold weather fuel consumption can be dramatically worse than in warm temperatures. How much worse? Have a look at these calculations from a hybrid.
9 Reasons Your Winter Fuel Economy Bites
- More Idling – Parked idling cars are a common sight in cold weather. Resist the temptation to idle your car to warm it up. An idling engine gets 0 mpg. Consider also that idling the engine does nothing to warm up the tires and drivetrain. Even in the coldest weather you can begin your driving after 30 seconds from a cold start – keep speeds low/moderate and use gentle acceleration until the temperature gauge starts to climb.
- Low Tire Pressure – A 10 degree change in ambient temperature equates to a 1 psi change in tire pressure. Fuel economy declines 0.4% for every 1psi drop.
- Increased rolling resistance – A tire’s shape isn’t completely round – the sidewall bulges out at the bottom and the “footprint” of where the tread meets the road is actually flat. As the tire rotates it constantly deforms to this shape and this requires more energy when the rubber is cold and hard.
- Bad road conditions – Driving through slush and snow takes more energy as does no friction at all (wheel spin on ice).
- Lower Average Engine Temperature – In the winter an engine takes longer to reach operating temperature and cools off faster when shut off. Engine management systems order up a richer mixture when cold therefore more fuel is being burned overall.
- Higher Average Lubricant Viscosity – Engine oil thickens as it cools. So does transmission and differential fluids and even bearing grease. Significantly more energy is needed to overcome the added drag these cold lubricants cause. Synthetic fluids can address this problem.
- Weaker Gasoline – Gas doesn’t vaporize readily at very cold temperatures. So oil companies formulate fuel differently for cold-weather markets in the winter. The additives are non-combustible resulting in less available energy for combustion. Simply put this means you won’t get as far on a gallon of winter gas as you will on a gallon of summer gas.
- Higher Electrical Loads – In colder temps you will use electrical accessories more often: lights (it’s darker more in winter); rear window defogger; heated seats; windshield washer pump.
- More Aerodynamic Drag – A vehicle’s aerodynamic drag is proportional to air density, and the density increases as temperature drops. For every 10 degree drop in temperature, aerodynamic drag increases by 2%.