(LOS ANGELES, April 19, 2011) – With Earth Day celebrations this week, AAA offers drivers some tips on how they can drive “greener” and save gasoline and money while they’re doing it.
“Many Americans are trying to make more environmentally conscious decisions and that is especially top of mind this week as we near Earth Day,” said the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center Manager Steve Mazor. “There are a lot of things we can do to lessen our environmental impact behind the wheel while saving money as well.”
1. Imagine Eggs Under the Pedals
The easiest and most effective way to drive “greener” is to simply change one’s driving style. Instead of making quick starts and sudden stops, go easy on the gas and brake pedals. If there is a red light ahead, ease off the gas and coast up to it rather than waiting until the last second to brake. Once the light turns green, accelerate gently rather than making a “jack rabbit start.”
“Imagine there are eggs beneath your gas and brake pedals. You want to apply pressure gently to the pedals in order to avoid breaking the egg,” explained Mazor. “Changing your driving style can have a tremendous impact on the amount of gas your car uses, making it not just a ‘greener’ choice, but one that can really save money with today’s high fuel prices.”
The U.S. Dept. of Energy reports aggressive driving can reduce a car’s fuel economy up to 33 percent.
2. Just Slow Down
Getting to a destination faster doesn’t necessarily mean getting there “greener.” The fuel efficiency of most vehicles decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. “When AAA says slow down, that doesn’t mean a driver needs to become a roadblock on the highway. Safety should remain paramount. However, simply driving the speed limit or a few miles per hour less can reduce fuel consumption by up to 23 percent,” noted Mazor.
Each 5 mph driven over 60 mph is like paying an additional $.0.24 per gallon for gas, according to the energy department.
3. Keep Your Car In Shape
A car that’s not properly maintained can produce more exhaust emissions and consume more fuel than necessary.
“Dust off the owner’s manual and locate the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule inside. Making sure all recommended maintenance is up to date will help your car run with optimum efficiency,” said Mazor.
AAA recommends having any vehicle problems, including illuminated warning lights, addressed by a qualified, trained technician. Minor adjustments and repairs can effect emissions and fuel economy by up to four percent, while more serious problems, such as a faulty oxygen sensor, can reduce gas mileage as much as 40 percent.
To help motorists find reliable, high-quality vehicle service, AAA has inspected and approved nearly 8,000 auto repair shops across the country. AAA members can access nearby AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities online.
4. Choose a Greener Car
When shopping for a new car, consider the wide variety of “green” vehicle options now available from automakers.
“There are a number of ‘green’ car options on the market today. Assess your personal transportation needs to determine which is best for you. It could be a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid or an electric vehicle. Or, it might turn out to be a new model with a high-tech internal combustion engine that gets great gas mileage,” said Mazor. AAA recently released its list of top picks for “green” vehicles.
Even those not in the market for a newer vehicle may have the option of choosing a ‘greener’ car. If a household has multiple vehicles, choose to drive the more fuel-efficient ‘greener’ model more frequently when running errands or making other trips.
5. Think and Plan Ahead
Think ahead before heading out to the store or another errand. Determine all the places you need to go that day and try to combine multiple trips into one. Several short trips starting with a cold engine each time can use twice as much gas as a single longer trip when the engine is warm. Also, plan the route in advance to drive the fewest miles, eliminate backtracking and avoid heavy traffic times and areas.
AAA can help drivers plan efficient routes for their errands and locate the best places to stop for gas along the way. Using the free AAA TripTik Mobile iPhone app, motorists get turn-by-turn navigation with audible directions. In addition, they can compare frequently updated fuel costs at gas stations near their location. AAA also provides free route planning, gas station and fuel price information online through the free online TripTik Travel Planner.