Gasoline prices at a gas station in central New York State are close to the national average of $4.24 per gallon. California prices are approaching $6 a gallon. Bill Howard

There’s a constant, dizzying trend that emerges: when gas prices rise above $4 a gallon, Americans become a religion of fuel economy. Large SUVs are falling in value and Honda Civics are getting a second look. With 5 gallons of gasoline in some states, the process is well under way.

At the end of March, the price of regular gasoline had risen 47% over the past year, to an average of $4.24. Premium gasoline is up 41%. Diesel has grown the most over the past year, 62%. Diesel is similar to heating oil and jet fuel.

The pattern has been that when the pain at the pump subsides even a little, consumers go straight back to their big SUVs. Now, with credible electric and hybrid vehicles on the market, things may change permanently.

For motorists looking for a more fuel-efficient vehicle, look for the best fuel-efficient trucks, SUVs and hybrids. Plug-in hybrids combine electric motors that travel 20 to 50 miles on battery power before the gas engine starts.

The future for many is the fully electric vehicle. Cox Automotive reports that at the start of March, interest in electric vehicles soared 69% and consideration for hybrid increased by 32%. These are Forbes’ Wheels best electric vehicles for range, best SUV electric vehicles and best electric cars.

In an effort to save as much gas as possible from your existing car, here are 20 tips for fuel misers:

Gas station
Virtually all cars sold today run well on regular fuel. “Premium suggested” is not the same as “premium required”. An exception are performance cars of the last century without engine knock sensors, which adjust for premature ignition with lower quality fuels. In March, the premium for premium fuel was 67 cents per gallon, according to AAA. Bill Howard

Buy regular fuel

There is no need for premium gasoline unless your automaker specifically requires it with “premium only” or “premium required” (not just “preferred”) labels on the gas gauge or door fuel filler. Generally, the car will run fine without damaging the engine. Regular use in a favorite premium car can cost half a second to accelerate to 60 mph. Premium costs an additional 67 cents per gallon (16%) at end-March prices. Automakers say gas of any grade is labeled High level has all the necessary detergent additives to keep their engines clean.

Combine trips

In the morning you realize you need butter, so you hop in the Bulgemobile and get it – three miles one way, three back – then head back out in the afternoon when the milk runs out. How about waiting for the shopping list to reach critical mass, meaning five or more items? As fueleconomy.gov puts it, “several short trips made from a cold start can consume twice as much fuel as a longer, versatile trip covering the same distance.”

Ditch the roof rack or luggage rack

Inertia – or the thought that they look cool – is behind the idea of ​​leaving racks at the top long after the ski trip is over. Both increase the weight of the car and reduce aerodynamics. Consumer Reports put pods and brackets on a 2019 Nissan Altima and Toyota RAV4 going 65 mph. The Altima’s 48-mpg moonroof dropped 11 percent with a rack and 19 percent (to 39 mpg) with a rack and rack. Drive 1,000 miles without a highway vacation and you pay $20 more. The factory-installed permanent roof rails, things going front to back, have only a minor impact on drag.

(Don’t) carry that weight

Adding 100 pounds reduces fuel economy by 2%. The trash in the trunk—last summer’s golf clubs, overdue library books, goodwill donations that never make it to the trash—adds up.

Use E-ZPass

Stopping to pay tolls can be a waste of fuel, especially on busy roads. With a toll tag on the windshield, most of the time drivers hardly have to slow down. A New Jersey Turnpike Authority study found 1.2 million gallons of fuel saved in the first year of E-ZPass.

Ford-Mustang
A refreshing walk in the country can be fun. But fuel economy drops over 50 mph. Bill Howard

Don’t speed up

Fueleconomy.gov reports“Speed ​​increases fuel consumption and decreases fuel economy due to tire rolling resistance and air resistance. As vehicles achieve optimum fuel economy at different speeds, fuel consumption gas “generally decreases rapidly at speeds above 50 miles per hour. Reducing speed by 5 to 10 mph provides 7 to 14 percent more mileage.

Carpooling

by Robert Putnam bowling alone says Americans are much more likely to travel alone these days. Planetizen says the decline in carpooling is “the most significant change in travel behavior in recent decades.” In 1980, 20% of Americans carpooled; in 2013, it had fallen to 9%. But carpooling and carpooling can cut your fuel costs in half. Fun fact: carpooling unfortunately makes the car heavier than a generation ago; the average American is 15 pounds heavier than in the late 1980s.

Go down to a red light or stop sign

Avoid Jackrabbit starts and frantic stops. AAA informs us that the combination reduces fuel economy by 15-30% at highway speeds and 10-40% if traffic is intermittent.

Practice hypermiling

Some people try to squeeze the most forward motion out of a gallon of gasoline through hypermiling. It helps if you own a mileage champ, like a hybrid Toyota Prius. The rules are simple: time the lights (ride at the posted speed) to get to as many greens as possible, coast or slide if you can, keep idle to a minimum, and don’t use starting devices. distance to warm up the car. The car doesn’t need it, it’s a pollution problem and you only suffer briefly in a cold car. Clean up trash from the garage to keep your car going on winter nights; no need to run the defroster 5-10 minutes to remove ice and snow. Hypermiling websites include Ecomodder.com, Hypermiler.com, CleanMPG.com.

Be smart about air conditioning

It is more complex than it seems at first sight. For better economy in the city, keep the windows down and the air conditioning off. On the highway, the aerodynamic drag from open windows negates the gain from the off air. A study found that driving on the highway with the windows down will cost you nine cents a gallon, or $70 a year out of the $5,000 to $7,500 to drive a car 15,000 miles a year (payments, insurance, repairs , gasoline).

Traffic jam
Driving in rush hour traffic is bad for fuel economy. In the largest US cities, rush hour can last four hours. Los Angeles even has a midnight rush hour caused by shift workers. Ford

10 more tips

These tips also save fuel:

  • Try to avoid rush hour slowdowns. The morning rush hour on the New York City subway is four hours, from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. In Cleveland, it’s 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.
  • Keep auto stop-start enabled. Restarting the car consumes less fuel than idling even for 20 seconds.
  • Use cruise control or, better, adaptive cruise control for smoother acceleration and braking.
  • Clean or replace the air filter.
  • Make sure the gas cap is secure.
  • Properly inflate your tires: every 1 PSI of under-inflation costs 0.4% in fuel savings and tires naturally lose 1-2 PSI per month, more in winter.
  • Take public transport to and from work in major cities.
  • Do some cycling errands.
  • Shop online rather than driving 10 miles to the mall and back (without completely abandoning local merchants). A delivery truck’s added mileage from its last stop to yours may be as little as a mile or two. And those delivery trucks are quickly going electric.
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