Avoiding ‘fuelishness’ saves big

Ramstein American High School students Devyn Cox, Porsche McWhorter, Brent Schuck, Phil Southard, Sierra Tate, Len Vergara and Holly Webb

The most obvious way to save money on gasoline is not to drive at all. Although public transportation is offered in many locations and bicycle paths are abundant in the German countryside, alternative means of transportation are unfortunately not an option for many. When driving is necessary, there are ways to minimize the rising cost of driving.

First and most important: be a good driver. Not only is driving smart safe, it is also cost effective. Swerving in and out of lanes, accelerating suddenly at stop signs, and shifting erratically wastes gas and thins your pocket book. An even bigger cost to drivers is the autobahn. Unless in a big hurry, going 80 mph on the autobahn is both unnecessary and costly – at speeds over 60 mph, fuel efficiency begins to drop off. On average, a car that gets 30 mpg at 60 mph will get only 23 at 75 mph – that means a car would get around 105 miles less on a tank of gas just by driving 15 mph faster on the autobahn – a cost of about $15.

Keep tires properly inflated. In case it has not become obvious, what is safer is usually more cost effective. By keeping tires properly inflated, energy can be utilized at the most optimal level, potentially adding a savings of around 9 cents per gallon of gas.

Turn off engine whenever possible. A tactic long used by Europeans, shutting off the engine when at stoplights, stuck in a Stau, or at the drive-thru prevents costly gas from being wasted. And thanks to modern fuel injector technology, starting up the engine uses a relatively insignificant amount of gas when compared to idling in traffic.

Plan trips ahead of time. If you have found yourself driving to base three or more times a day, you probably could be planning your trips a little better. Try to combine your small trips into one big one.

Use cruise control. Cruise control can save you money by maintaining your speed, thereby keeping acceleration and gas consumed to a minimum.

Remove unnecessary items. Keep extra weight out of the vehicle and don’t pack items on top of the vehicle. An extra 100 pounds in the trunk typically reduces a car’s fuel economy by up to 2 percent and items packed on top of the car can decrease fuel economy by 5 percent, which may not seem like a lot, but it can add up over time. By removing items from the vehicle you save 3 to 6 cents per gallon of gas. If you can, next time you go on a trip leave the excess baggage at home – it’ll save you in the long run.

Gas prices won’t be going down anytime soon, so to ensure that you get the most “bang for your buck” follow the tips above. Always remember to drive with caution and beware of your surroundings. Again, the most obvious way to save money is to get up and get walking.

Or, sit down and get on the Internet. There is a huge amount of information online that can provide further tips to help offset rising gas prices. For more facts you can use, visit Fueleconomy.gov.