An automobile is more of a necessity than a luxury in Los Angeles. Unlike many U.S. cities that have square, box-like geographies – New York, Philadelphia and Boston come to mind – Los Angeles is generally spread out. It’s not unusual for Southland citizens to travel 15 to 30 miles to work on a daily basis. In addition, with the nation’s economy recovering and gas prices on the rise, gas mileage becomes that much more vital to drivers roaming the City of Angels.
Many people drive vehicles that give them less than 20 miles per gallon (mpg), but there are ways for them to maximize their gas mileage. Conversely, there are ways that many drivers unknowingly waste gas with vehicles that yield 25 or more mpg. Experts at 4 Wheel Parts say the difference between a car that gets 20 mpg and one that gets 30 mpg amounts to $4,375 over five years, assuming gas costs $3.50 per gallon and you drive 15,000 miles a year.
Listen to Your Engine
Aggressive driving makes sense in an off-roading rig outfitted with all manner of Jeep lift kits, lighting, and 35-inch tires tearing up in the Rockies. Aggressive driving on the highway (speeding, sudden starts and stops), on the other hand, just wastes gas and decreases an automobile’s mpg by 33 percent on the freeways and 5 percent on city roads. Driving at speeds over 50 miles per hour also decreases gas mileage. Every five mile increment above 50 mph wastes about 30 cents of gas, so observing the speed limit is not only safer, but more economical. In other words, when your car’s sounding like a vacuum cleaner red-lining it on your living room carpet, you are burning through too much fuel.
Traveling with excess items can adversely affect a car’s gas mileage. An extra 100 lbs. in a vehicle reduces an automobile’s mpg by 1 to 2 percent. Driving with bulky luggage or extra items in the trunk or hatchback compartment on a regular basis increases the vehicle’s need to burn more fuel to keep it in motion. Traveling light should be the norm not only to eliminate vehicle wear and tear, but to increase gas mileage. Traveling with excess bulk is more detrimental to smaller automobiles than larger ones. Idling in a vehicle carrying a hundred pounds or more of excess weight wastes 10 cents (or more) per gallon.
Keep On or Turn Off
Idling (leaving the motor on while not in motion) uses about a quarter to half a gallon of gas per hour, depending on engine size and air conditioner use. An automobile’s engine should be turned off when parked because it takes a negligible amount of gas to start most vehicles. Turning a vehicle on and off excessively, however, can damage the starter.
Here’s the general rule: drivers who need to stop for more than a minute should turn off their engines. For every two minutes spent not idling, money is saved. When restarting, there’s no need to “warm up” the vehicle – the function and warmth of the engine will kick in naturally.
The Air We Breathe
Drivers should also be conscientious about checking air filters. A clean air filter can improve gas mileage up to 10 percnt and replacing a dirty air filter can save drivers around 39 cents per gallon or take them 23 miles further on a full tank of gas. Additionally, this has the added value of reducing air pollution.
And lastly, keeping the automobile’s tires well-aired is a significant factor in optimizing fuel efficiency. At various times over the last decade, it is estimated that a quarter of the automobiles on the road have been driven with underinflated tires. The average under inflation rate of 7.5 pounds results in a nearly 3 percent drop in fuel efficiency. Drivers can save upwards from 11 cents per gallon by having properly inflated tires.
The endless sprawl of Los Angeles is the perfect setting for drivers to incorporate these tips for getting better gas mileage. Whether it’s during a commute, a trip to the beach or a weekend getaway, there are tried and true ways to save. Increasing gas mileage is a constant battle, but having all of these arrows in your quiver can add up to measurable savings.
Joseph Wright is a contributing writer covering automotive and business marketing topics in print and online media outlets. Joseph writes for 4 Wheel Parts and other Transamerican Auto Parts sites as member of the digital marketing research group at TAP Worldwide, LLC.