bonus
12 tips for better fuel efficiency

SLOW DOWN. If you’re tempted to exceed the speed limit a bit to make your rounds faster, think again. It pays to plot your route with adequate time to obey the signs, particularly at speeds more than 60 mph, when gas mileage for most vehicles decreases quickly.

LIGHTEN UP. Be diligent about removing excess items from the delivery vehicle—the rental pedestals that didn’t get back into storage from last weekend’s wedding, for example. The smaller the vehicle, the more that extra weight will reduce its miles per gallon.
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TAKE IT EASY. Keep it smooth when you’re stopping and starting. Anticipate the traffic flow, and avoid “jack-rabbit” starts.
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DON’T IDLE. If your delivery will take more than a quick run to a home’s door—think deliveries downtown or to large office buildings—turn the vehicle off. It takes less fuel to restart than it does to idle for more than a minute. Plus, it’s illegal in some places to let a car idle unattended.
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USE THE CRUISE. If you deliver long distances and your routes include highway travel, engage the cruise control and overdrive gears when appropriate. Cruise control helps maintain a constant speed, thereby saving gas, and overdrive gears reduce the engine RPMs without reducing the speed, thereby decreasing wear and tear and improving gas mileage.
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KEEP YOUR COOL. When dealing with florists’ living cargo, this is often non-negotiable, but as much as possible keep the air conditioning off.
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ROLL ’EM UP. Driving with the windows down, especially at high speeds, increases drag and can decrease your fuel efficiency by up to 10 percent.
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STAY IN TUNE. Schedule a tune-up annually to optimize the vehicle’s performance. A well-tuned engine delivers the best balance of power and fuel economy and produces the lowest level of emissions.
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CHANGE THE OIL. Periodic oil and oil filter changes keep the engine clean. Change the oil and oil filter every 3,000 miles or three months, or per the owner’s manual. It is important also to use the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil for optimum fuel efficiency. For example, using 10W-30 motor oil in an engine designed to use 5W-30 can lower gas mileage by 1 percent to 2 percent.
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CLEAR THE AIR. A vehicle’s air filter keeps impurities from damaging the inside of the engine. Replacing a clogged air filter can improve fuel efficiency by as much as 10 percent.
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VISIT THE INFLATION STATION. Check the tire pressure at least monthly, including the spare. A vehicle’s tires affect its ride, handling, traction and safety. Kepping tires inflated to the proper pressure can improve fuel efficiency by around 3.3 percent.
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KEEP RIGHT. Plan delivery routes to favor only right-hand turns. This will reduce time spent sitting in left turn lanes and, therefore, fuel consumption, even if you have to go a block or so out of your way to accomplish this. UPS drivers use this technique, and the company estimates that it saved more than 3 million gallons of fuel and reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 32,000 metric tons in 2007.

Sources: U.S. Department of Energy, www.fueleconomy.gov; Car Care Council, www.carcare.org; GasBuddy.com, www.gasbuddy.com.






 

 

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