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Here are 10 things you can do today to get better gas mileage right away.
A vehicle that is well maintained means it will operate with greater efficiency. This not only improves your overall vehicle performance, but it will improve your fuel economy as well. Fouled spark plugs or a clogged fuel filter will affect your fuel economy. Proper maintenance also means using the right octane gas and the recommended grade of motor oil. Using the recommended types for your vehicle will give you optimum fuel economy — and can save you money as well. Check your owner's manual for your vehicle's recommendations and have maintenance performed regularly by a dealer or reputable mechanic.
Underinflated tires require more energy to roll, which translates into more frequent fill-ups. You can improve your fuel economy by about 3.3 percent if you keep your tires inflated properly, according to the DOE. The psi number noted on the sidewall of your tires is the maximum pressure of the tire and is not the proper inflation level for your car. Your vehicle manufacturer will list the recommended tire pressure in your owner's manual or a sticker on the doorjamb of the driver-side door. Buy a tire-pressure gauge and check your tires monthly, adding air as necessary.
Heavier vehicles require more energy to move, so carrying around excess weight will also affect your mileage. Empty out your trunk (or even your backseat) of unnecessary items. An extra 100 pounds in the trunk will reduce your fuel economy by 1 to 2 percent in the typical vehicle. If you have a roof rack or roof carrier, install it on your vehicle only when absolutely necessary. Not only does the carrier add extra weight, but it also increases the aerodynamic drag on the vehicle, which further contributes to a loss of fuel economy.
We're not talking road rage here, but the type of driving many people do when they are in a rush. Mashing the accelerator pedal from a stoplight, braking hard and speeding all contribute to a decrease in fuel economy. Give yourself extra time to get to your destination and think "steady and smooth" as you drive. On surface streets, driving at the speed limit will give you mostly green lights, which improves your gas mileage as well as reduces the wear on your brakes. On the highway, the DOE says that every 5 mph you drive over 65 mph represents a 7-percent decrease in fuel economy.
Cars are designed to start in the lowest gear possible because that's where they have the most power, but that power translates to an increase in fuel consumption. To improve your fuel economy, drive in the highest gear possible when you are cruising at a steady speed, such as on the highway. If your vehicle has an automatic transmission with a "sport" mode, it's most likely that this is a computer program designed to shift later (and therefore keep you in a lower gear longer). While this gives you greater performance, driving in "sport" mode will also decrease your fuel economy.
Using cruise control can improve your gas mileage by helping you maintain a steady speed, but only if you are driving on mostly flat roads. If you are driving in hilly terrain, using cruise control typically causes your vehicle to speed up faster (to maintain the preset speed) than it would if you were operating the accelerator yourself. Before you push that cruise control button, think about the terrain ahead.
Keeping your car washed and waxed improves aerodynamics and therefore affects fuel economy. Engineer Tom Wagner, Jr. reported to Stretcher.com (as in stretching your dollars) a 7-percent improvement in fuel economy, from 15 to 16 mpg, during a 1,600-mile road trip.
When a car is idling, it is using fuel, yet not going anywhere. This translates to 0 mpg. When you leave your car running while you are waiting in line at the drive-thru, or as you wait outside your kids' school, you are wasting fuel. It is more efficient to turn the engine off while you wait and then restart the car. If that's not practical (like in the line at McDonald's), then park the car and go inside instead.
Running your air conditioner does cause your vehicle to consume more fuel, but driving with your windows rolled down can be even worse due to the increase of drag on the vehicle. If you are driving slowly, such as around town or in city traffic, then you are better off leaving your windows open, if at all possible. For highway driving, roll up the windows and turn the air conditioning on.
A little planning can make a big difference in fuel economy. When your engine is cold, it uses more fuel than when it is warm. Combining errands can improve your gas mileage because your engine will be warm for more of the trip. It might also mean you travel less total miles. According to the DOE, several short trips all begun with a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a single, longer trip that covers the same distance.
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#1 Carlos Slim Helu
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While it's hard to tell from the photos, the 2010 Honda Insight is smaller than the 2009 Civic Hybrid. To give you a frame of reference, the smaller hybrid rides on a wheelbase that is nearly half a foot shorter and has less overall length compared to the Civic.
The Insight's style is clearly driven by aerodynamics. The bullet-shaped nose blends smoothly into the passenger cabin and then cuts off abruptly. Any aerodynamics engineer will attest that this is the most efficient automotive aero shape known to date ... the wind doesn't show favoritism to any one brand. This reality is also evident in the shape of the new Prius and Chevrolet's upcoming Volt; the profiles of these cars are quite similar because airflow created the shape, not stylists. The smallish 15-inch wheels make the body appear bulkier than it is, but one can't argue with efficiency.
Inside, the Insight offers a generous 85 cubic feet of passenger volume with another 15.9 cubic feet of cargo room. This is slightly less passenger but more cargo volume than the larger Civic. The cabin appears bright, airy and fully modern.
The Insight's hybrid powertrain uses a 98-horsepower 1.3-liter four-cylinder with what engineers call Integrated Motor Assist. This is the electric motor (rated at 10 kilowatts, or about 13 horsepower) that occupies the space (and helps provide the functionality) of a traditional continuously variable transmission. Fuel economy, while not yet certified, is expected to be 40 mpg city, 43 mpg highway. Currently, the Civic Hybrid is rated at 40 mpg city, 45 mpg highway.
Honda's EcoAssist system helps drivers achieve maximum fuel economy by recommending driving style recommendations and then showing the driver's results real-time. (While your author hasn't experienced the system in action, he assumes that it is similar to the EcoGuide system introduced by Ford at the L.A. Auto Show in their 2010 Fusion Hybrid.)
The 2010 Honda Insight provides a complete range of safety and convenience features, including six airbags, electronic stability control, power interior features (windows, door locks, etc.), automatic climate control, and a 160-watt audio system. Options include the Honda Satellite Linked Navigation System with voice recognition and Bluetooth HandsFreeLink system. These features were never even considered for the original Insight, but are required to make a car attractive to the mainstream automotive buyer who likes a full complement of equipment.