Sometimes between terrible Austin traffic and the high cost of gas, it’s enough to make a person want to swear off driving entirely and just bike or walk everywhere (Austin is quite bike-friendly, after all.) It’s true that there may not be help to the traffic issues right now, but fortunately there are some things every driver can do to cut back on what you’re spending at the pump and make every gallon go further.
One of the biggest gas-guzzling features of any car is the air conditioning: an absolute necessity here in the south during the summer months. We would never dream of telling a Texan to get into their car-oven without cranking the A/C, however, we would offer some advice to help reduce that initial oven temperature considerably so that your A/C doesn’t have to work so hard. The cheapest and easiest solution? Park your car under a tree, in a parking garage, or in the shadow of a building if possible. This makes an absolute night and day difference to the interior temperature of your car after it’s been sitting outside all day. If those aren’t options where you work, invest in a windshield solar shade that you can put up to diminish the volume of rays getting into your car. The best option, albeit the most expensive, is professional window tinting. Window tinting pros can help you find the right product for you, and can expertly apply it to your vehicle. A final note: while cracking your windows or leaving them all the way down can help air circulate and thus cut down on the smoldering heat inside, we do not recommend this, no matter where you’re parked. Cracked windows are an open invitation to thieves, and between theft and heat, we’ll take the heat.
Maintaining and replacing worn out parts in your car is another key way to get better gas mileage. Most people are aware that getting new tires and keeping them at the appropriate pressure level can help you cruise further with each gallon, but so can changing the air filter. Especially in cars 10 years or older, dirty air filters will reduce the miles you get per gallon. Changing an air filter is a snap to do yourself, or is usually fairly inexpensive to have a pro do – just ask for an inspection when you’re getting your oil changed. Additional car parts that effect gas mileage and should be inspected regularly include the spark plugs and the oxygen sensor.
As an insurance company, we hope this goes without saying, but another excellent way to get better gas mileage is to observe the speed limits and drive safely. Being an aggressive driver is not only dangerous and against the law, it’s also taxing on your car, resulting in more gas wasted. So next time you’ve got road rage and get the urge to step on it so you can cut off that slow driver on their cell phone (also unsafe!!) remember your pocketbook and desist.
Gas prices will rise and fall, but there are always things you can do to help your car get the most out of the fuel you put in it. These tips are not only friendly to your car and your bank account, they’re also friendly to the environment, and will help you get where you need to be without using more gas than you need to.