There are more than 15 million licensed drivers in Texas. Whether you just got your license or still have a few years to go, these driving tips will get you ready to hit the road. Driving can be a lot of fun! But owning a car or truck is also a big responsibility. Vehicles are a source of air and water pollution. Gas and maintenance can be expensive. Luckily, there are many easy things you can do, which will help you save money and protect our beautiful state!
What is gas mileage and how does it affect my wallet? The government tests cars to determine the number of miles they get per gallon of gasoline used (MPG), also called fuel economy. The higher the MPG, the less fuel your car uses and the more money you’ll save. The MPG varies greatly based on the type of car you choose, from 11 MPG to 136 MPG. Even though your car is estimated to get a certain fuel economy, you may get a different MPG than the rating. There are several things that can affect your vehicle’s fuel economy such as how and where you drive and whether you keep your car maintained.
What can I do to save money and take care of the environment?
- If you already own a car or truck, find out how fuel efficient it is.
- Are you getting your first car soon? Compare the MPG of many different cars and trucks and consider purchasing a vehicle with higher MPGs to save money on gas.
- In the hot Texas weather, the air conditioner is the main contributor to using more gas. This can reduce a vehicle’s fuel economy by more than 25 percent! Save gas by rolling the windows down at lower speeds and using the AC at highway speeds. Also, parking in the shade or using a sunshade will prevent the cabin from getting as hot.
- During cold weather, gas mileage can reduce anywhere from 12 to 34 percent. Combine errands so you drive less often with a cold, less efficient engine.
- Idling will use a quarter to a half gallon of gas per hour. If you expect to idle for more than 30 seconds, like when you are waiting in a drive-thru, turn your car off and go inside. However, you should limit your engine’s starts to ten times a day, on average, to avoid excessive starter wear.
- You’ll save money on gas by keeping the maintenance on your car up to date. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for when to change the oil and what type of oil to use.
- Keep your tires properly inflated. Not only will this save you gas money, it will help your tires last longer. Learn how to properly inflate your tires.
- Refuel in the late afternoon or evening and don’t top off your tank. This will help to prevent the formation of ground-level ozone, commonly known as smog.
- Never pour used motor oil down a storm drain. Storm drains will carry the oil directly to Texas’ waterways. The used oil from one oil change can contaminate one million gallons of freshwater. Instead, take your oil to a recycling center.
- Drive less to save gas. Carpool with your friends and split the cost of gas money. Use public transportation when possible. Combine several errands into one trip.
- Pay attention to the “check engine” light. Driving a vehicle that needs maintenance or repairs can increase emissions and cost you more than $660 in gas each year.
- Speeding and aggressive driving waste gas and are dangerous. Slow down, accelerate gradually, and brake gently in order to save $0.20 to $1.13 per gallon! Typically, for every 5 miles per hour you drive over 50 mph, it’s like paying an additional $0.20 per gallon at the pump.