The War on Fuel Economy

VW Service Ann Arbor

We seem to be in the middle of a War on Fuel Economy. On one side, the government announced it is going to push back the EPA’s more strict fuel economy requirements. The EPA announced it is going to re-review the strict standards it set for 2025 and take more factors into account. Auto makers have argued for more lax regulations on fuel economy requirements. On the other side, Volvo has announced that by 2019 it will only produce electric and hybrid vehicles, China has announced 40% of vehicles produced will be new energy vehicles by 2030, India has announced 100% sales of zero emissions vehicles by 2030, and Aston Martin just announced that 100% of its fleet will be hybrids by the mid 2020’s and 25% fully electric by the end of the next decade. Not to mention Dieselgate. Regardless of which side we’re on, most of us would like to lower fuel costs. Don’t despair, there are ways we can save!

Here are 5 ways all of us can save at least a little bit on fuel costs:

1. 75 mph does not keep fuel economy alive. I know, as Michigan drivers the last thing we want to hear is to slow down. But, according to Consumer Reports and the EPA the biggest impact we can have on mpg is to do the speed limit. As a matter of fact, the EPA states that conservative driving can increase fuel economy as much as 22% on the highway and 5% on city streets.

2. Give your AC a helping hand. The Department of Energy states that on really hot days the AC is the largest contributor to increased fuel consumption and can reduce fuel efficiency by 25%. Ways you can help your AC work better are by leaving the windows open until the car cools before turning on the AC, park in the shade, and use the AC for highway driving not city driving.

3. Lose the extra weight. Not you, you’re perfect the way you are. The car. Heavier vehicles use more fuel to get moving and keep moving. The USCUSA estimates that for every 100 lbs of weight your fuel efficiency is decreased by 1 – 2%. So leave those golf clubs you’re hauling in the trunk or the harp in the back of your wagon just in case, at home until you really need them.

4. Don’t be a drag. Again, not you. The car. A bike rack on the roof with 2 bikes on it lowered fuel economy by 15 mpg in a test done by Consumer Reports. The more aerodynamic the vehicle is the better the fuel economy. This means remove car top carriers and bike racks when not in use. Surprisingly, having a tonneau cover and leaving the tailgate down on a truck decrease fuel economy.

5. Warmer is better. Your engine runs the most efficiently when it’s warm. Warm the engine before driving and try to combine short trips so the engine doesn’t get cold as many times. Besides, who wants to go out more than they have to in the winter? Your engine produces more pollution and wears more when it is cold. When you warm it you have the added benefits of helping it last longer and keeping the environment cleaner.

There are some myths regarding fuel economy that were debunked in real world testing by Consumer Reports. For instance, the time of day you fill up does not make a difference. Underinflated tires and low rolling resistance tires do not have a significant impact on fuel economy. As far as changing your air filter is concerned, they found that for older cars changing your air filter regularly can have a positive impact on fuel economy. It does not have an impact on newer cars because they use sensors to determine the air/fuel ratio. Whichever side of the battle we are on, by using some of these tips for increased fuel economy everyone can save on fuel costs. That’s a win-win!

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