A dozen ways to drive smart

The Drive Smart program is a nationwide promotion effecting real change in resource conservation, and it can save the driving public real money at the end of a year, a few bucks at a time. Here’s what you can do right now to effectively lower the price of driving:

• Inflate your tires to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure, which can be found on the driver’s door jam or in the car’s manual. Tires lose 1 psi each month and 1 psi for every ten degree drop in temperature. Proper pressure improves fuel efficiency by up to 3%, saving $75 annually.

• An engine tune-up improves fuel efficiency up to 4% and saves as much as $95 a year. Fixing a faulty oxygen sensor can improve mileage as much as 40%, saving $940.

• Select the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil and improve mileage by 1%, saving $45.

• Drive sensibly by avoiding speeding, rapid acceleration and braking. This improves mileage by up to 5% around town and up to 33% on the highway, saving $115 and more.

• Avoid idling. Idling gets zero miles to gallon and it takes the same amount of gasoline to start an engine as it does to idle for one minute.

• Buy tires with lower “rolling resistance.” Improves mileage up to 2%, saving $50.

• Minimize driving with a cold engine. Engines run most efficiently when they’re warm. Making multiple short trips and starting your engine from cold each time reduces fuel economy by 4%.

• Operating air conditioning at “max’’ can reduce mileage by 33% around town, but seems to have little effect at highway speeds.

• Each five miles-per-hour over 60 is equivalent to paying an additional 30 cents per gallon.

• Fill gas tank at the coolest part of the day. Fuel is denser in the early morning and the cool of night.

• Get rid of the junk in the trunk. Every 100 pounds cuts a typical vehicle’s fuel economy by up to 2 percent. Filling your gas tank to only half cuts as much as 60 pounds from the vehicle’s weight.

• Carry nothing on the roof of your vehicle. At highway speeds, more than 50 percent of engine power goes to overcoming aerodynamic drag. A car-top carrier reduces mileage by as much as 6 mpg. Even an empty ski or bike rack causes drag and reduces mileage.

-Jeff Mannix