Gasoline prices: How your driving behavior affects the costs at the pump

Gasoline prices: How your driving behavior affects the costs at the pump

Record-high gas prices have stressed motorists across the country, and many experts expect prices to remain high in the near future as demand for summer travel picks up.

On Thursday, the nationwide average retail price for regular gasoline rose to another record high, hitting $4.41 a gallon.

While you may not be able to control prices at the pump, you can control how you drive. Driving behavior can actually help consumers make significant savings when filling up at the pump, Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, told FOX Business.

Gas prices in California

Gas prices as of March 11, 2022 in Long Beach, California. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis/AP Newsroom)

It’s the “easiest” thing to do when trying to combat these rising fuel costs, he said.


Keep your tachometer as low as possible

De Haan says drivers should be light on the accelerator when accelerating. The harder you step on the gas, the more fuel your engine uses, he said.

According to De Haan, the tachometer should serve as a benchmark for drivers to see how much fuel they are actually using.

The tachometer measures the operating speed of an engine in rpm or revolutions per minute. It is located next to the speedometer on a vehicle’s instrument panel.

“The higher the needle goes, the more gas your engine eats,” De Haan said.

The goal is to keep the rev counter as low as possible and not “put the pedal to the metal,” De Haan added.

fuel prices

Cars were crowded in the turning lane onto the Murphy Express at Beal Parkway and Racetrack Road as gas lines appeared at numerous gas stations in the Fort Walton Beach, Florida area. (USA Today Network via Reuters Connect / Reuters Photos)

It is also important to keep the car’s speed under control, as speeding increases fuel consumption. According to the US Department of Energy, gas mileage will drop “quickly at speeds above 50 MPH.”

The best way to control speed is with cruise control. Although cruise control might not be useful in some congested parts of the country, like New York or Chicago.

However, according to De Haan, the function “can be more effective and efficient than a human trying to maintain the same pressure on the gas pedal”.


Maintenance: Make sure your check engine light is not on

If a check engine light is on, especially if it is flashing, it should be checked as soon as possible. Many sensors on cars are vital, but the check engine light is the “most critical” according to De Haan.

When the light flashes, “it’s basically telling you it’s in distress,” De Haan said.

The car essentially goes into “sleep mode,” meaning “the car lost a critical sensor or something is critically wrong and … is basically using up to twice as much fuel to protect itself from catastrophic damage,” De added Haan added.

Another thing motorists should pay attention to is tire pressure.

Illinois gas

A man checks gas prices at a gas station in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, March 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Nam Y Huh/AP Newsroom)

When a tire loses air pressure, there is more friction between the tire and the road. This increase in friction will reduce a car’s fuel efficiency, according to De Haan.

Remove access weight

Leaving heavy objects in the back seat or truck of a car can also affect fuel efficiency. According to De Haan, every hundred pounds reduces fuel efficiency by one to two miles per gallon.

Porters, who typically sit on the roofs of cars during the summer or winter months, also work against drivers. These racks will “absolutely destroy your vehicle’s aerodynamics” and reduce fuel efficiency by 25 to 35 percent, De Haan said.

“You’re like a mattress on your roof,” he said. “Your car is working harder to compensate for that object on top of your car.”

Keep an eye on your air conditioner this summer

When the air conditioning is running in your car, “you generally put more stress on your engine. You’ll use a lot less fuel if you break a window instead, according to GasBuddy.


MYTH: It takes more gas to restart your car

That may have been true 30 years ago, “but that’s why vehicles have adopted this stop-start technology,” says De Haan.

If you are stuck in a traffic jam for more than 10 seconds, it makes more sense to switch off the vehicle.

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