As our population has continued to grow and more and more people are being forced to relocate to suburbia, average commute times have sky-rocketed. A recent national study revealed that commuters in large metropolitan areas like New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago spend nearly an entire work week each year sitting in traffic on the way to and from their jobs. The average American spends 25.1 minutes a day—each way—driving to and from work**. It's safe to say the days of the 10-minute work commute are gone.
How Can You Extend The Life Of Your Vehicle?
If you're one of these unlucky commuters and telecommuting, carpooling and/or public transportation aren't realistic options, here are a few tips that may extend the life of your car and help you spend less on gas by making your vehicle more fuel efficient.
Avoid sudden starts and stops and observe the speed limit. Erratic acceleration and quick braking uses more fuel than driving in a smoother fashion. Plus, the wind resistance caused by driving fast costs you money. For every 5-mph you drive over the 60 mph mark, you add a dime to the price of every gallon of gas you buy.
Stay in tune
Keep the car as well tuned as you possibly can. A poorly tuned engine can increase fuel consumption by up to 50 percent! Getting regular tune-ups, maintenance, and having clean air filters will help you burn less gas, pollute less, and prevent car trouble down the line. Using the right grade of oil for your car can also help ensure it runs smoothly in all types of weather.
To inflate or not to inflate? That is the question.
A phenomenal 36% of cars are driven with tires below the recommended psi (pounds per square inch). Check your tire pressure regularly with a tire gauge to make sure they're in line with what your manufacturer recommends. If you drive on wheels that are under-inflated your car's fuel efficiency will be reduced by up to 2 percent for each pound that the tires are under-inflated.
Chill out on chilling out
Stop using the AC so much! Your vehicle's air conditioner uses power generated by the engine, so only use it when necessary for short periods. Parking in the shade and using a reflective windshield shade will help keep your car cool on hot days. If your car is too hot to drive, simply roll down the windows and let it air-out before hitting the road. On the other hand driving with your windows down reduces the aerodynamics of your car and increases fuel consumption, so on summer road trips try to strike a happy medium.
Get the junk out of your trunk
Avoid carrying extra weight in your car. Extra weight saps your fuel economy, so unless you're planning on playing that day, leave those golf clubs at home.
Just Keeps On Truckin'...
But don't take our word for it. Listen to 40-year policyholders Carole and David Fowler from Hico, Louisiana. They've proven that even if your vehicle is less than ideal when it comes to gas-mileage, a little TLC can go a long way.
Meet Old Brown, a 1998 GMC Safari that's still ticking even after 243,000 miles.
"I change the oil on a regular basis and I've never driven her hard or abused her," Carole said. "We bought a 2003 GMC Safari van a few years ago for fear Old Brown was going to quit on us, but she just keeps on going. We've had to replace the AC compressor and some belts and things like that, but that's about it. I much prefer to drive "Old Brown" than the newer van. My family laughs at me for trying to keep her so clean, and the inside is as clean as when we purchased her."
Have an "Old Brown" of your own? We'd love to hear from you. Send us an email at email@example.com and you could be featured in an upcoming edition of GEICO Connection.