Shade of green: Luscious lime
Items needed: Air compressor, four to six quarts synthetic oil, common sense, willing mechanic
Why this hack: Because you can't afford a Prius
Heart of the hack: This one's simple, folks. First, you gotta check tire pressure. Consider: There's a 1% loss of fuel efficiency for every 2 PSI under maximum pressure (usually in the 35-psi range). So if you're running at 26 psi, you're giving up about 5% fuel efficiency. Why, on my 1990 one-ton Chevy pickup (454 and four-on-the-floor, if you care, which you should), that's... um... 1/2 mpg.
You, presumably, drive a smaller, smarter vehicle, so you could be looking at a 1 to 2 mpg improvement. At $3/gallon, it'll add up, and if all of you send the savings to this blogger's Paypal account, he can afford to keep driving his Chevy.
Part 2. A synthetic motor oil can improve fuel efficiency quite a bit. Even if you don't believe the outrageous claims from oil and additive makers (and you shouldn't), you can realize a 5% to 10% gain by switching to a synthetic motor oil such as Mobil 1.
Part 3: Slow-the-heck-down. It's that simple, folks. Most modern automobile engines are most efficient at below-highway speeds. Figure around 55 mph for maximum efficiency, then add another 5 mph so you don't get rear-ended by the hotshot in the Lexus (or me in my truck). The gas mileage difference between 60 mph and 80 mph is going to be in the 15% range.
Part 4: Make the kiddies walk. For every 100-pounds in cargo, you're burning about 2% more gas. They could use the exercise, anyway. If that doesn't work, at least get 'em off the roof: Anything you put up there pretty much wreaks havoc on your mileage. Avoid it.
Handy Tips: Just do it, ok? This is going to be the easiest Greenhack you ever read on this site.
Photo by Nicola Stratford/Istock
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