With gas prices in parts of the country now more than $4 a gallon, all of a sudden “fuel economy” is more than just an industry buzzword—it’s the holy grail for consumers. And while you may be cursing your decision not to buy a hybrid last time you purchased a car, the May edition of AAA New York’s Car & Travel magazine says what actually may matter more is not what you drive, but how you drive.
Car & Travel cites a study by Australia’s Royal Automobile Club of Victoria, in which a mid-sized wagon and a smaller sedan were both driven aggressively and smoothly on suburban roads. The Aussie study found that the larger car driven smoothly had better gas mileage than the smaller car driven aggressively. The takeway? “By simply avoiding jackrabbit starts, excessive braking and ever-changing speeds, drivers can cut their fuel consumption by up to one-third,” writes Car & Travel’s Tom Vanderbilt. What’s more, the study found that less aggressive driving barely extends travel times. In the Australian test, smooth drivers arrived at their destination a mere five minutes behind their aggressive counterparts.
What else can you do to save gas? Stop idling. “Studies show that the energy consumed by American drivers idling is equal to the total energy use of a country like Costa Rica,” writes Vanderbilt. Idling your car means you’re getting exactly 0 mpg. Any more than 10 seconds at a standstill, and you should shut the car off. And if you think your car needs to warm up by sitting with the engine running, think again. Vanderbilt writes that no less an authority on cold weather than the Canadian Office of Energy Efficiency says just 30 seconds in “deepest winter” is all that’s needed for your engine to get going.
Source: AAA New York Car & Travel