Gas prices: How your driving behavior impacts costs at the pump

Record high gas prices have pressured motorists across the country and many experts expect prices to remain high for the foreseeable future as demand for summer travel increases.

On Thursday, the national average retail price for regular gasoline rose to a new record, reaching $4.41 a gallon.

While you may not be able to control prices at the pump, you can control how you drive. Certain driving habits can actually help consumers make significant savings when it comes to refueling at the pump, Patrick De Haan, chief of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy, told FOX Business.

Gas prices March 11, 2022, in Long Beach, California. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis/AP Newsroom)

It’s the “easiest” thing you can do if you’re trying to combat those rising fuel costs, he said.


Keep your tachometer as low as possible

De Haan says drivers should keep their feet lightly on the gas when accelerating. The more you press on the accelerator, the more fuel your engine uses, he said.

According to De Haan, the tachometer should be used as a gauge for drivers to see how much fuel they actually use.

The tachometer measures the operating speed of an engine in RPMs or revolutions per minute. It is located next to the speedometer on a vehicle’s instrument panel.

“The higher the needle goes, the more gas your engine gulps,” said De Haan.

The goal is to keep your rev counter as low as possible and not to “step on the pedal,” De Haan added.

gas prices

Cars crowd the exit lane to Murphy Express on Beal Parkway and Racetrack Road as gas pipes began popping up at numerous gas stations around the Fort Walton Beach area of ​​Florida. (USA Today Network via Reuters Connect/Reuters Photos)

It is also important to control the speed of the car, as speeding increases fuel consumption. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, gas mileage will “decrease rapidly at speeds above 50 MPH.”

The best way to control speed is with cruise control. Although cruise control may not be useful in some busy parts of the country, such as New York or Chicago.

However, the feature may be “more effective and efficient than a human trying to maintain the same pressure on the accelerator,” De Haan said.


Maintenance: Make sure your Check Engine Light is off

If a Check Engine Light is on, especially if it is blinking, it should be checked as soon as possible. Many sensors on cars are of crucial importance, but according to De Haan the indicator light is the “most critical”.

When the light blinks, “it’s actually telling you it’s in distress,” De Haan said.

The car essentially goes into “limp mode”, meaning “the car has lost a critical sensor or something is seriously wrong and…in fact consumes up to twice as much fuel to protect itself from catastrophic damage,” added De Haan to it.

Another thing motorists should check is tire pressure.

Illinois gas

A man checks gas prices at a gas station in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, March 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh / AP Newsroom)

When a tire loses air pressure, there is more friction between the tire and the road. According to De Haan, this increase in friction will lower the fuel consumption of a car.

Delete access weight

Leaving heavy objects in the back seat or truck of a car can also hurt fuel efficiency. According to De Haan, every hundred pounds will actually reduce fuel consumption by one to two miles per gallon.

Racks that sit on the roof of cars, usually in the summer or winter months, also work against drivers. Those racks will “absolutely destroy your vehicle’s aerodynamics” and cut fuel consumption by 25 to 35%, De Haan said.

“They’re like a mattress on your roof,” he said. “Your car works harder to compensate for that object on the top of your car.”

Keep an eye on your air conditioning this summer

When the air conditioning in your car is running, “you generally put more strain on your engine. You burn a lot less fuel if you open a window instead, according to GasBuddy.


MYTH: It takes more gas to restart your car

That may have been true 30 years ago, “but that’s why vehicles have adopted start-stop technology,” said De Haan.

If you sit in traffic for more than 10 seconds, it makes even more sense to turn off the vehicle.

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