How to Maximize Fuel Efficiency as Gas Prices Soar
March 9, 2022
Written By Adam Buckallew
Gas prices in the U.S. have soared to a record high of $4.17 for a gallon of unleaded gasoline amid the disruption of global oil markets by the war in Ukraine. The previous high of $4.10 per gallon was set in July 2008. According to data from AAA, the average national price has risen a staggering 55 cents per gallon since last week, 72 cents more than a month ago and $1.40 more than a year ago.
The sharp rise in fuel expenses began two weeks ago when Russia invaded Ukraine. The conflict has prompted bipartisan federal legislators to call for a ban on Russian oil imports, which President Joe Biden announced Tuesday.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Russia was the world’s third-largest producer of petroleum products in 2020, after the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, and accounts for about a tenth of the global oil supply.
“Consumers can expect the current trend at the pump to continue as long as crude prices climb,” AAA said in a news release.
Maximize Fuel Efficiency
If you have sticker shock from a recent fill-up at the pump, you’re not alone. On March 7, the GasBuddy app, which helps consumers scout local gas prices, was overwhelmed by traffic and unavailable at times throughout the day.
If you’re looking to get the most from every tank of gas, the easiest and most effective way to maximize fuel efficiency is to adjust your driving behavior. Speeding, rapidly accelerating and hard braking can lower your gas mileage by as much as 30% at highway speeds and up to 40% in stop-and-go traffic.
Consider the following recommendations:
Don’t speed – Gas mileage usually peaks around 50 mph and declines at higher speeds. Reducing highway speeds by 5 to 10 mph can increase fuel economy by 14%.
Avoid excessive idling – Most cars consume a quarter to a half-gallon of gas per hour when idling. If you are going to stop for more than a minute, and it is safe to do so, shut off your engine.
Travel light – Take anything you don’t need out of your vehicle. For every 100 pounds you carry around, you lose 1% to 2% in fuel efficiency.
Maintain your vehicle – Poorly maintained cars are less efficient and use more fuel. Change your oil as recommended and ensure you follow the manufacturer’s scheduled maintenance plan.
Keep tires inflated – Check your tires for proper inflation at least once a month. Underinflated tires have increased rolling resistance that reduces fuel economy by 0.2% for every one psi drop in the average pressure of all tires. Properly inflated tires are also safe and last longer.
Take advantage of loyalty programs – Most gas stations and convenience stores offer a loyalty program to help you save on gas. The Break Time MyTime Rewards program offers fuel discounts based on monthly visits. You can earn a 3¢-per-gallon discount on fuel after four visits in a month, 4¢ off each gallon after ten visits, and a 5¢-per-gallon discount with 20 visits. In addition to fuel discounts, MyTime Rewards members can earn free drinks and points to redeem on food items or more significant fuel discounts.