Defensive driving has long been touted not only as a safe way to operate a motor vehicle, but also a cost-effective one. When driving defensively, drivers are less likely to make sudden stops or accelerate quickly, each of which can waste fuel.
But even the most conservative motorists might want to do even more to conserve fuel. Fortunately, there are many unique and simple ways to conserve fuel and save money.
• Park in the shade. According to Natural Resources Canada (NRC), using a vehicle’s air conditioning system increases its fuel consumption more than any other auxiliary feature. In fact, NRC notes that air conditioning systems can increase fuel consumption by as much as 20 percent. That’s because vehicle AC systems require engines to work extra hard, which in turn requires them to consume more fuel. By parking in the shade on hot days, drivers won’t need to crank their AC systems in order to overcome the summer heat.
• Listen to traffic reports. It’s well known that idling greatly decreases fuel economy. Before leaving for work or to run errands around town, tune in to local traffic reports in the hopes that you can avoid potential traffic jams that contribute to the needless consumption of fuel. If there’s no way to avoid traffic during your daily commute, consider investing in a vehicle with stop-start technology, which shuts the engine off when your vehicle comes to a halt before restarting it once you take your foot off the brake. The Union of Concerned Scientists notes that this technology can reduce fuel consumption by as much as 5 percent.
• Make sure your gas cap is tight. A loose gas cap can adversely affect fuel economy. Loose gas caps allow fuel vapors to leak and that decreases your vehicle’s fuel efficiency. After filling up at the pump, be sure to close the gas cap tightly. Many caps will indicate how many clicks it takes to make sure the cap is closed as tightly as possible. In addition, periodically inspect the cap for cracks or leaks, replacing it if necessary.
• Drive distraction-free. Today’s cars are technological marvels. But all those bells and whistles can be distracting, and distracted drivers are less likely to pay attention to how they’re driving. That can make for unsafe and fuel-inefficient driving. When driving, do your best to minimize distractions, turning off your smartphone and directing all of your focus to the road and how you’re navigating it.
Conserving fuel is a goal for many drivers, and that goal can be achieved in a wide variety of ways.