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Maximizing Your Vehicle’s Gas Mileage

Copy this list for your drivers to make the most of every drop of fuel.
 

  ON THE ROAD  
 
  • Make only right turns. Take a lesson from companies with lots of delivery vehicles (e.g., UPS, FedEx), and route deliveries to avoid left turns. Most left turns require waiting for oncoming traffic to pass, waiting at red lights and waiting for vehicles ahead of you to make their left turns. This waiting wastes time and gas. Routing deliveries so that every turn is a right turn will make each delivery run shorter and will save fuel. The “right on red” option in most communities also adds to the savings of time and fuel.

  • Slow down. Of course you’re following the posted speed limits—it’s the law. But if you’re tempted to cheat 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 cars 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.

  • Take it easy. Keep it smooth when you’re stopping and starting. Anticipate the traffic flow, and avoid “jackrabbit” starts. This will also help your blood pressure.

  • No idling. It may seem like a pain, but if your delivery will take more than a quick run to a home’s door—think deliveries to office buildings and hospitals—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.

  • 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.

  • Keep your cool. When dealing with florists’ living cargo, this is often non-negotiable, but as much as possible keep the air conditioning off.

  • 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.

 
  OFF THE ROAD
 
  • Consolidate. It’s worth the time spent planning your delivery routes before you get in the car to avoid backtracking and to combine what could be several short trips into one long trip.

  • Plan your fill-ups. As you make your rounds, keep your eye out for low-priced gasoline; if the price is right and you have less than half a tank and time to spare, fill ’er up. Or keep your eye on online sites such as GasBuddy.com (www.gasbuddy.com) and GasPriceWatch.com (www.gaspricewatch.com/new/default_V3.asp), where consumers are constantly posting prices to show where to find the lowest in your city.

  • Go by the book. Drivers and shop owners should be highly familiar with the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance schedule. Consider following the severe driving conditions schedule because most delivery vehicles spend much of their lifetime being driven in town in stop-and-go conditions.

  • Tune it up. Keeping the vehicle properly tuned can save as much as 4 percent in gas mileage. And tune-ups help identify more serious maintenance problems, fixes for which can improve your fuel efficiency even more.

  • Keep your spark. Change your spark plugs regularly. Dirty spark plugs will misfire, which wastes fuel.

  • Replace your air filters. Checking the air filter can be as easy as lifting your vehicle’s hood, and replacing a clogged air filter can improve gas mileage up to 10 percent and will protect your engine.

  • Tighten that gas cap. Damaged, loose or missing gas caps allow the fuel to vaporize before you can use it. The Car Care Council (www.carcare.org) notes 17 percent of vehicles on the road have such problems, which equals a loss of 147 million gallons of gas each year.

  • Stay inflated. Check the tire pressure regularly, such as with every fill-up, and keep the tires inflated to the correct PSI.

  • Use the right oil. Choosing the improper grade of motor oil, one not recommended by your manufacturer, can cost you up to 2 percent in gas mileage. FuelEconomy.gov (www.fueleconomy.gov) also recommends looking for the words “Energy Conserving” on the API (American Petroleum Institute) performance symbol on the label, which means it contains friction-reducing additives.

  IN THE MARKET
 
  • Compare gas mileage estimates. When buying your next delivery vehicle, consult the Fuel Economy Guide at www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/findacar.htm, which has gas mileage estimates for vehicles from 1985 to the current model year. The site notes that the difference between a vehicle that gets 20 mpg and one that gets 30 mpg is $550 per year (assuming 15,000 miles driven annually and $2.20 a gallon fuel). Smaller vehicles and manual transmissions generally yield better fuel economy.

  • Beware of “gas gullibility.” Be a smart consumer when it comes to claims about “gas-saving” gadgets, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) advises. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has tested more than 100 such devices, some of which provide few benefits and some of which actually may damage a car’s engine. A full list of tested products is online at www.epa.gov/otaq/consumer/reports.htm.

Sources:
U.S. Department of Energy, www.fueleconomy.gov
The Federal Trade Commission, www.ftc.gov
The Car Care Council, www.carcare.org, www.gasbuddy.com
 


Florists' Review Enterprises, Inc..
PO Box 4368
Topeka, KS   66604

Phone: 800-367-4708
Local: 785-266-0888
Fax: 785-266-0333


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