Auto Expert: Eco-Driving Tips From Ford
Eco-Driving Tips From Ford
From AskPatty.com Buttoned Up’s Auto Expert
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that the United States uses about 150 billion gallons of gasoline annually. Eco-driving techniques tested by Ford showed that motorists coached in eco-driving can significantly improve the fuel economy performance of their vehicles. Here are simple tips that any driver can use:
Slow down and watch speed
Drive 55 mph instead of 65 to save fuel. EPA estimates a 10 to 15 percent improvement in fuel economy by following this tip. Also, aim for a constant speed. Pumping the accelerator sends more fuel into the engine. Using cruise control whenever possible on the highway helps maintain speed and conserve fuel.
Accelerate and brake smoothly
Accelerating smoothly from a stop and braking softly conserves fuel. Fast starts, weaving in and out of traffic and hard braking wastes fuel and wears out some of the vehicle components, such as brakes and tires, more quickly. Maintain a safe distance between vehicles and anticipate traffic conditions to allow for more time to brake and accelerate gradually.
Today’s engines don’t need a warm-up. Start the car immediately and gently drive away. Don’t leave your car idling. Prolonged idling increases emissions and wastes fuel. Turn the engine off in non-traffic situations, such as at bank and fast food drive-up windows, when idling more than 30 seconds.
Check your tires
Keep tires properly inflated to the recommended tire pressure. This alone can reduce the average amount of fuel use by 3 to 4 percent. Under-inflated tires increase rolling resistance and reduce fuel economy. They also wear more rapidly. Check the vehicle’s door-post sticker for minimum cold tire inflation pressure.
Be kind to your vehicle
Maintain proper engine tune-up to keep vehicles running efficiently. Keep the wheels aligned. Wheels that are fighting each other wastes fuel. Replace air filters as recommended. Use a fuel with good detergent additives to keep the vehicle engine clean and performing efficiently. Always consult the owner’s manual for proper maintenance.
Avoid piling a lot of luggage on the roof rack. The added frontal area reduces aerodynamics and will hurt fuel economy, reducing it by as much as 5 percent. Remove excess weight from the vehicle. Unnecessary weight, such as unneeded items in the trunk, makes the engine work harder and consumes more fuel.
Close windows at high speeds
Don’t drive with the windows open unless you keep your speed under 50 mph. Driving with the windows open at highway speeds increases aerodynamic drag on the vehicle and lowers fuel economy.
Choose the right oil
Use good-quality oils with the viscosity grade recommended in the owner’s guide. Ford recommends SAE 5W-20 oil for most cars and trucks to provide the best fuel economy. Only oils “certified for gasoline engines” by the American Petroleum Institute with the starburst symbol should be used.
Minimize use of heater and air conditioning
Use heating and air conditioning selectively to reduce the load on the engine. Decreasing your usage of the air conditioner when temperatures are above 80 degrees can help you save 10 to 15 percent of fuel. Use the vent setting as much as possible. Park in the shade to keep the vehicle cool and reduce the need for air conditioning.
Plan ahead to consolidate your trips. This will enable you to bypass congested routes and lead to less idling.
If every driver practiced these eco-driving techniques — which can result in an EPA-estimated 15 percent benefit in fuel economy — more than 22 billion gallons of gas could be saved each year!
Creative commons speedometer photo courtesy kylemay via flickr; overloaded car under creative commons license 2.0 by andrewbain via flickr