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We all feel the pain when we see the numbers whiz by on the gas pump. The days of filling up your car with a couple of $20 bills are long gone. One bright light, however, comes from the Automobile Club of Southern California (www.calif.aaa.com). The group’s Weekend Gas Watch noted that gas prices in the SoCal area dropped for a third week in a row, averaging $3.234 a gallon for regular as of 9/10/15. Sadly, the region is still the highest of any in the US.
For those who would like to squeeze every mile out of a thankful of gas, the US Department of Energy’s Fuel Economy website (www.fueleconomy.gov) has some excellent suggestions for doing just that.
Don’t Load Your Roof: Hauling cargo on your roof increases aerodynamic drag (wind resistance) and lowers fuel economy. A large, blunt roof-top cargo box, for example, can reduce fuel economy by around 2% to 8% in city driving, 6% to 17% on the highway, and 10% to 25% at Interstate speeds (65 mph to 75 mph). Rear-mount cargo boxes or trays reduce fuel economy by much less—only 1% or 2% in city driving and 1% to 5% on the highway. If you need to use an external cargo container, removing it when it’s not in use will save fuel and money.
De-Clutter the Inside of Your Car: Avoid keeping unnecessary items in your vehicle, especially heavy ones. An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could reduce your MPG by about 1%. The reduction is based on the percentage of extra weight relative to the vehicle’s weight and affects smaller vehicles more than larger ones.
Turn Your Engine Off: Idling can use a quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour, depending on engine size and air conditioner (AC) use. Turn off your engine when your vehicle is parked. It only takes about 10 seconds worth of fuel to restart your vehicle.
Keep Your Tires Properly Inflated: You can improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3% by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.3% for every 1 psi drop in pressure of all four tires. Properly inflated tires are safer and last longer. The proper tire pressure for your vehicle is usually found on a sticker in the driver’s side door jamb or the glove box and in your owner’s manual. Do not use the maximum pressure printed on the tire’s sidewall.
“Southern California prices continue to push up the overall state average because local supply issues remain more challenging than in the north,” said Auto Club spokesman Jeffrey Spring. “Some Northern California cities like Sacramento, Modesto and Stockton have average prices under $2.90 a gallon – 50 cents lower than the Los Angeles area.”