Fuel economy tips for drivers

With Americans paying record high gas prices that are likely to climb even higher, the country’s nearly 200 million drivers will no doubt be scouring the countryside to find that illusive lowest price gas pump.

But, according to experts, several extra miles can be squeezed out of every fill-up if drivers followed a few simple rules.

“The way to save money is in every drivers’ hands, and sometimes feet,” said Ray Palermo, director of public relations for national auto insurer, Response Insurance. “Everything comes down to two basic categories of advice: car care and driving habits.”

He offered drivers a few pieces of advice from the company’s “10 Tips to Improve Your Gas Mileage” brochure, such as:

– Lighten the car’s load by taking unnecessary items from the trunk, such as the bag of sand and shovel from the winter. Every 200 pounds of weight reduces gas efficiency by one mile per gallon. If you have to carry a lot of baggage, avoid using a roof-top container, which will increase the air drag. If you drive a pick-up truck, the open bed will have the same impact, so put a cover on it.

– Oversized and under-inflated tires decrease fuel efficiency. Check vehicle and tire manufacturer for proper inflation.

– Don’t turn on the air conditioner as a first response to the heat. Start your drive off with windows open to exhaust the hot air out of the rear windows and then put on the A/C if needed. This will also enable the air conditioning to work faster and more efficiently when turned on.

– Smooth out your driving style by avoiding “jack rabbit” starts and sharp braking. Both expend gas and can present a hazard for others on the road.
n It’s estimated that every mile per hour driven above 55 mph costs 1 percent in fuel economy. So, keeping to the legal limit is both safe and fuel-efficient. Maintaining a constant speed also maximizes your car’s performance. If road conditions permit, use your cruise control.