Fuel Economy Triad

All of the factors that govern your car's gas mileage can be broken down into three groups. Your choice of the make and model of car you drive, how you drive and the mechanical condition of your car make up the Fuel Economy Triad. Think of them like the three legs of a stool: all are necessary to support the load. Depending on your individual situation, one or another might be easier to manage, or potentially give a bigger savings on gas. But you should always keep all three in mind.

An example of the driving habits leg is reducing the number of small trips you make. If you are in the habit of driving a couple of blocks to pick up a pack of smokes, then walk instead. Or make one trip per week to the grocery store and buy twice as much instead of two trips. This is not a practical solution for most of us, but if you can move closer to work or find a job closer to home you can save a lot on gas for the commute.

The make and model of car you drive sets your base fuel economy. If you drive a vehicle that gets poor gas mileage you are going to be using more gas no matter what else you do. Of course, there are other reasons besides gas mileage for choosing a vehicle and it is not always so easy or practical to change vehicles.

A car that is not mechanically tuned up and cared for will get worse gas mileage. If the tire pressure is not high enough or you have a roofrack you don't use, you will be using more gas than is needed. Get your vehicle checked up regularly and stick to the scheduled replacement times on components like the air filters. You will be rewarded with a savings on gas.

The leg most commonly overlooked by drivers is their own driving habits. Don't make the same mistake: always think about the whole Triad!

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