As the new year comes to a head, many of us have started, or plan on starting, a set of resolutions.
Exercise more. Find time for vacation. Healthier eating habits. Wiser spending.
The list could go on forever.
And somewhere in that line, we decide to pick a trait and run with it for a few months, or hopefully longer.
But there’s a bigger picture with some resolutions; some that don’t need a singular event to get the ball rolling. One that should be up there is both healthier on your vehicle, the environment and eventually, your wallet: fuel conservation for the long haul.
And most of us try our best to limit the amount of times we visit the gas pump. But as our busy daily routines take center stage, sometimes we forget the little things that cast a greater foundation for fuel conservation.
And it’s here, the little things, that we can (and should) do better while out on the road.
So that’s where I direct you to the following resolutions. And they go well beyond a rehash of some of the familiar fuel conservation tips you may or may not have read before.
I Will Drive Safer And Conservatively
One of the easiest ways to reduce your fuel consumption is to be a defensive driver. And no, I’m not talking about driving 15 MPH under the advised speed limit.
I’m referring to driving with more awareness of your surroundings.
Sure, speeding should be an obvious no-no; especially the act of starting and stopping with more added force on the gas pedal than necessary.
But seriously, a defensive driver should be at the forefront of all fuel conservationists out there when behind the wheel.
Because, really, what good is all the rest of these tips going to serve if you commit the most obvious sin by pushing your car to the max unnecessarily all the time?
I Will Keep Up With Routine Maintenance
Now that you’ve toned down hard stops and aggressive starts with your car, the next course with keeping to your fuel conservation ways is through constant TLC with your car’s maintenance.
Things like going 1K miles over your recommended oil change barrier. Or driving with bad alignment. Or ignoring the loud sounds from your worn-down muffler and exhaust every time your car accelerates up a level.
There are so many working parts going on with your vehicle. And just because you have a EV or hybrid vehicle, that doesn’t mean you can ignore some of the same issues that conventional vehicles because a lot of the same dependencies are there.
You still need clean oil. You still need ideal tire pressure to balance your car’s performance to the best of its ability.
And most of all, you still you need to keep up with the maintenance cycle to give your vehicle the best shot at ideal fuel conservation marks.
I Will Plan My Routes More Effectively
Another overlooked cause with fuel conservation comes from being too focused on reaching our destination that we sometimes fail to map out our drive to get us there much quicker than the next.
Sometimes, the most convenient route to work or back home is just the one you’re most familiar with.
Or maybe it’s the one highway section that every person knows is going to be the most log-jammed on the way to a sporting event… but they still line up anyways.
In most cases, there’s going to be an alternate route for almost any given destination. One that avoids rush hour gridlock in favor of saving you and your vehicle five minutes of driving.
The goal is to find the best access to the highway and, subsequently, the best route off it.
Get to know the busiest stretches of your city, which main streets have more lights and stops than the one over, or which areas are more dense with shopping centers, strip malls and other traffic-congested hot spots.
The less time you spend idling, or driving for that matter, the happier your fuel conservation efforts become
I Will Not Drive Around The Parking Lot Looking For The Best Spot
While this seems petty compared to the other points made, it’s still the little things that add up to the greater good of fuel conservation.
And nowhere is that more apparent than the time and gas spent driving around parking lots looking for the best spot.
Everyone’s guilty of this at one time or another. We’ve all backtracked through every lane on the lot looking for the closest spot.
Some of us have even tailed exiting customers as they go to their car, and wait patiently with a turn signal until they’ve left their spot.
Mainly, it’s a convenience thing through and through, when the best course would be to find the first parking spot you see, park and stretch your legs.
Now don’t take this too literally to the point you’re parked a mile away from the store. There’s a good indicator of how busy most parking lots are, and where the gaps are towards the back.
It’s mainly to emphasize that the endgame is spending less time idling and circling the car, and in effect, keeping your fuel gauge looking healthier all the same.
At The End of The Day…
There are so many more lessons and instances of wasted opportunities when it comes to fuel conservation, which is why it’s important that every driver out there practice better driving habits and efforts to keep their car’s makeup looking its absolute best.
It doesn’t matter if you drive the latest hybrid or a ’78 Mustang, enacting a certain amount of discipline behind the wheel can do wonders down the road for not only fewer stops at the pump, but help give a little more credence to your eco-friendly drive.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published January 2013. It has been updated for freshness and accuracy.