BY JESSICA HEITZMAN
SC Staff Writer
Gas prices are on the rise again, going back up to almost $4 per gallon in the state of Pennsylvania. Commuters rave about the sky rocketing prices that ravage their wallets. “I spend over $80 to fill my truck once a week, just to come to ESU,” says Christopher Walters, a senior and technical theater and design major. Luckily, there are ways to save gas just by the way a vehicle is maintained. Statistical information provided comes from thedailygreen.com.
A driver can reduce 7 percent of fuel consumption, saving on average 14 cents for every 5 mph decreased on the highway.
A vehicle’s fuel economy is lowered drastically when the driver’s speed increases. Of course this technique may be difficult for the lead footers out there, but if a driver wants to save gas, sacrifices need to be made.
Accelerate with care
Stepping on the gas too heavily and making the rpms sky rocket is not a great way to save on gas. For those automatic drivers, accelerate moderately so the transmission can shift properly with ease into the higher gears. For manual drivers, it’s important to shift early to keep the revs down but don’t lug on the engine. It’s also important to keep your eyes open to what lies ahead. If it looks like braking is going to be required as soon as the car gets up to speed, then obviously fuel is going to be wasted tremendously just to get ahead of the other cars.
Having under-inflated tires is the most common problem among drivers who try to save gas. Tires lose air pressure due to how long the tires have been on the vehicle and how cold it is outside. It’s important to check your tires at least once a month. However, check the tire gauge only when the tires are cold because the increased heat in the tires from driving can give a faulty reading. According to The Daily Green, “the average under-inflation of 7.5 pounds causes a loss of 2.8 percent in fuel efficiency.” Keeping tires inflated saves an average 6 cents per gallon.
Lowering the tail gate
“I don’t know if it’s legal, but I lower my tail gate to get better aerodynamics,” says Christopher Walters.
Lowering your tail gate in Pennsylvania is in fact legal. However, there must not be any unsecured items on the back of the truck because that may potentially cause a hazard. Other states may require a red rag to hang from the tail gate to aware drivers no to get too close to the truck.
Check the air filter
The air filter for a vehicle is used to allow air to flow into the engine. A clogged and dirty air filter restricts this flow, which can impair performance and economy. To check the air filter, simply remove the filter from the vehicle and hold it up to the sun. If no light shines through the filter then it’s time for a new one. Having a clean air filter can save as much as 10 percent on gas mileage, which saves 10 cents a gallon (assuming gas costs $4 a gallon).
Get off the brakes
Now, the road-ragers can say, “I told you so” to the people who just have to ride their brakes making driving a hazard and an annoyance. Riding the brakes doesn’t only wear out the brake pads faster, but it also increases the gas consumption by as high as 35 percent. Reducing the amount of braking a driver does can save 70 cents per gallon.
Draft like a racer
Don’t drive like a racer, draft like one. This doesn’t mean to tailgate. Drafting behind other cars isn’t recommended because getting behind an aggressive driver isn’t worth the accident in the end.
Draft behind larger trucks on the highway. Yeah, they drive slower, but the air that’s split around a vehicle (drag) slows the car down. However, when behind a large truck like a tractor-trailer, the wind resistance splits much further than a regular car, allowing the driver to stay back a little further from the truck, so tailgating isn’t required.
Another reason to stay with the trucks
Staying behind trucks in a traffic jam becomes very handy. In a traffic jam, big rigs roll with the flow of traffic while other vehicles tend to speed up, then, quickly slow down. This goes back to the whole “don’t ride the brakes” tip. It takes a lot more fuel to get a vehicle in motion than it does to keep the vehicle in motion. Sounds like something Einstein would say.
No one wants to go out to a freezing car when it’s 40 degrees or colder. Winter is the time of year that a car experiences its most wear and tear on an engine and loss of gas. It’s actually a myth to let a car warm up in the morning to allow the engine to reach an ideal temperature. Driving a car with care in the morning by driving slow and not accelerating too fast can easily get the job done. Allowing a car to idle for more than 30 seconds to a minute can cost 1 cent per gallon, for every three minutes the car is idled. Idling includes traffic lights, traffic jams, rail road crossings, and whatever else will make the car idle for 30 seconds.
Gas cards can be a great thing if they are used for the right gas station. Shell and Sonoco both offer gas cards with a 5 cent rebate per gallon of gas.
Shell, however, requires a 45 gallon fill up every month to receive the 5 cent rebate which is taken off on the credit card bill. Also, they only allow 100 gallons per month to receive the rebate. 100 gallons is easy to make if a person is driving an SUV or a truck, getting only a week’s worth of gas.
Sunoco on the other hand has no limitations and sounds like the best card to apply for.
The closest gas station to ESU is Exxon on Prospect St. Gas costs around $3.78 per gallon. It’s not the cheapest gas, but they do offer Upromise to college students.
Upromise is free to join, and students can earn 1 cent as college savings per gallon of gas purchased when buying 20 gallons a month. Depending on how much a college student fill up, especially a commuter student, this may be beneficial. In reality though, no one wants to pay more money for gas than they have to.
A gas card to stay away from is Valero. Until recently a driver could save 10 cents a gallon on gas whenever using the card. Now, drivers can save 20 cents a gallon.
This may sound great, but the rebate is only good for four billing cycles. Along with Shell, if a driver goes over 100 gallons per month, the rebate no longer applies.
The economy isn’t getting better, nor are the gas prices going down. It’s important to save as much money as possible. This applies especially to college students since they look for any chance they can get to save a buck or two.
Email Jessica at: