Driving Tips for Saving Fuel and the Environment

Text and photography by Eduardo Medrano

Californians pay some of the highest gas prices in the country. Four dollars per gallon of regular gas will be common by autumn of 2008. Additionally, automobiles have been identified as a major source of environmental pollution. Unfortunately, few of us can give up our cars entirely for work or essential errands. Here then, are green tips for keeping more green in your wallet.


  1. Plan ahead: Combine your errands and avoid driving during rush hour.  Engines are much less efficient while warming up and during stop and go driving.
  2. Take it easy: Avoid hard acceleration. Your engine works much harder, using more fuel and producing more emissions.
  3. Gimme a brake: Coast to a smooth stop instead of accelerating, then braking at the last minute. Hard braking produces greater brake-dust pollution and shortens the life of your brake pads.
  4. Save it for Indy: Driving 60 mph instead of 70 mph will increase your fuel economy about 10%.
  5. Check your pressure: Under-inflated tires waste gas and increase tread wear. Check tire side-wall for recommended pressure.
  6. Lighten up: Unnecessary loads make vehicles work harder. Save gas by unloading that box of books or those cases of bottled water from your trunk.
  7. Tune it up: Well maintained engines increase fuel economy and reduce emissions.
  8. Be cool (not cold): Moderate use of your air conditioner will increase your mileage. Make sure your system is recycling interior (cool) air, not constantly cooling outside (warm) air. Opening your windows compromises the aerodynamics of your vehicle—keep them closed, and turn on your fan instead.
  9. Don’t be too rich: Most vehicles are designed to run on regular unleaded gasoline. Needlessly using premium can reduce your engine’s efficiency and performance. Check your owner’s manual for the recommended grade. Avoid inferior quality gas from suspect companies and stations.
  10. Give it a rest: Newer engines don’t benefit from “warming up” before driving. Idling uses a richer fuel mixture and produces 0 miles per gallon.
  11. Get rid of that junker: Newer cars pollute much less due to progressively higher emissions standards and new technology. Look for vehicles highly rated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE).


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