Have an end-of-summer road trip planned? Take these Energy Commission fuel-saving tips along for the ride.
Ease up on the gas pedal. Rapid accelerating and braking can reduce fuel mileage by as much as 25 percent. Also, as you speed up, fuel economy goes down. Generally, you'll lose roughly 1 percent in fuel economy for every mile per hour you drive above 55 mph. If your car averages 30 mpg at 55 mph, you'll get about 28.5 mpg at 60 mph, 27 mpg at 65 mph and 25.5 mpg at 70 mph.
Tune up. The combined effect of dirty oil, and dirty air and oil filters can decrease your car's efficiency by 2.5 mpg. Worn spark plugs can decrease efficiency by 2 miles per gallon (mpg), and a nonworking oxygen sensor can decrease it by as much as 3 mpg.
Take the small car if you can. A large 2012 SUV gets an average 18.75 mpg (combined city and highway miles) while a mid-sized 2012 car delivers 25.5 combined mpg, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Check your tires. Keep your tires properly inflated. Low tire pressure reduces gas mileage and increases tread wear. Check your owner's manual or the vehicle door side panel for proper inflation information.
Lighten up. Leave what you won't use at home-especially anything you'll be carrying on the vehicle exterior-to maximize your mileage. A load on the roof rack lowers gas mileage more than the same load carried inside the car.
Take it easy on the AC. Air conditioning can drop mileage by 2 mpg. Rolling down the windows can decrease fuel efficiency even more. Best option: Use the air vents as much as possible.
Avoid prolonged idling. Idling increases emissions of carbon dioxide gases and contributes to air pollution. Turn the engine off when you can.
Plan your trip. Getting lost and backtracking waste gas and time. Study your route ahead of time and make sure maps, GPS devices and any other navigation aids are handy while you're on the road. If you're traveling in-state, the Visit California website can help you plan your route.
Fill up with regular. Most of today's cars and trucks run the same on regular gasoline compared to mid-grade or premium. Since all gasoline sold in California must meet strict fuel standards, most vehicles run well on any brand.
Consider a more fuel-efficient car including a hybrid or electric vehicle. Gasoline prices in California have doubled four times since 1950, twice since 2000. This trend is expected to continue.
Find more driving tips on the Energy Commission's Consumer Energy Center website