Fuel prices continue to set record highs!

You can take steps to maximize your business vehicle’s fuel consumption.

Here are 15 tips for your drivers to follow to increase fuel economy and add profits back to your bottomline.

1. Have Drivers Ensure Tires are Inflated to the Correct Pressure

This is the cheapest and easiest way to control fuel expenses and the one most often overlooked. If your drivers don’t have a tire gauge, it is worth the expense to buy them one so they can ensure that tires are inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended level. One underinflated tire can cut fuel economy by 2% per pound of pressure below the proper inflation level. One out of four drivers, on average, drives vehicles with one or more underinflated tires. When a tire is underinflated, let’s say by 4 to 5 psi below the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure, vehicle fuel consumption increases by 10% and, over the long haul, will cause a 15% reduction in tire tread life. Check the vehicle’s door post sticker for minimum cold tire inflation pressure.

2. Clean Out your Vehicle

The more weight your car,van or truck has to haul, the more gas it needs to do the job. According to AutoZone, every 200 lbs. of additional weight trims one mile off of fuel efficiency. Most drivers accumulate material in their trunks, much of it unnecessary.Instruct drivers to remove all unnecessary items from the cargo area such as unneeded tools or materials.

3. Follow the Recommended Maintenance

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, a dirty air filter or clogged fuel filter will all affect your fuel economy. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), replacing a clogged air filter can increase your mileage by 10 percent, while replacing an oxygen sensor could result in an improvement as high as 40%. 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.

4. Prevent Zero Mpg by Avoiding Unnecessary Idling

The worst mileage a vehicle can get is 0 miles per gallon, which occurs when it idles. Idling for long periods of time, whether at railroad crossing or pulling off the road to make a cell phone call, consumes gas that could be saved by simply turning off the engine. Restarting an engine uses about the same amount of gas as idling for 30 seconds. When idling for longer periods of time, shut off the engine. Prolonged idling creates excess emissions and wastes fuel. However, turning off the engine may disable vehicle features including safety features like airbags. Drivers should be certain to only utilize this strategy in situations where there is no possibility of collision.

5. Use A/C Sparingly

Use the air conditioner only when needed. The air conditioner puts extra load on the engine, forcing more fuel to be used. An air conditioner is one of the biggest drains on engine power and fuel economy. It can reduce gas consumption by 5 o 20 percent,depending on the type of vehicle and the way it is driven. Don’t use it as a fan to simply circulate air. If it’s just too hot to bear without A/C, try to keep it set at around 72 degrees. Minimize use of air conditioning. Use the vent setting as muchas possible.

6. Lower Speeds Save Gas

Drive at posted speed limits – this is a tip that may save a life as well as fuel. EPA estimates a 10-15% improvement by driving 55 instead of 65 mph.

7. Use Cruise Control — Selectively

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.

8. Develop a More Efficient Routing Play

If you have vehicles that follow a set daily pattern, efficient routing offers an effective way for fleets to manage fuel expenses. Not only does a routing plan make trips more fuel-efficient, it also increases time efficiency as well. Plan and consolidate trips to bypass congested routes and avoid stop-and-go traffic.

9. When Feasible, Have Two Employees Per Vehicle

If you have several employees going to the same work location or job site, have them take one vehicle instead of driving separately.

10. Avoid Jackrabbit Starts

A vehicle consumes extra fuel when accelerating. To maximize fuel economy, drivers need to examine their driving habits. Simply limiting acceleration and fast braking can increase fuel economy. When accelerating, pretend you have a fresh egg underneath your right foot. A light, steady pressure helps to minimize the amount of fuel consumed and maintain a more moderate and steady speed.

11. Anticipate Traffic Flow

Anticipate traffic conditions, and accelerate and decelerate smoothly – it’s safer, uses less gas, and reduces brake wear. In commuter traffic, which usually involves stop-and-go movement, look for two or more vehicles ahead rather than watching the driver in front of you. This enables you to accelerate and decelerate more gradually. By anticipating a traffic light change, an upcoming stop sign, or the need to slow down for a curve, you can avoid or reduce brake use and save gasoline in the process. Like the “jackrabbit start,” the “jackrabbit stop” is a major contributor to inefficient driving.

12. Avoid Aggressive Driving

The largest fuel waste occurs with aggressive driving. Time studies show that fast starts, weaving in and out of traffic and accelerating to and from a stop light doesn’t save much time, wastes fuel, and wears out components such as brakes and tires faster.By not driving aggressively, drivers can save up to 20% in fuel economy, advises the EPA.

13. Watch Your Feet

Keep that left foot off the brake. It not only will cause drag thus reducing gas mileage, but will also wear your brakes out much faster. Besides, it confuses the driver behind you.

14. Use The Correct Grade of Fuel

Many people think they need Premium when Regular will do just fine, expecially owners of “fast” cars. Read the owners manual and use the recommended fuel.

15. Buy Fuel in the Morning

To maximize fuel economy, Kelley Blue Book suggests buying gasoline when the temperature is cold and gasoline is at its densest. Consumers are charged based on volume, not density. Buy gasoline during the coolest time of the day or first thing in the morning. Conversely, heat causes fuel to expand and overflow. Don’t completely fill the gas tank in hot weather.