On the Road Again
Texas is defined by its abundant open spaces connected by never-ending miles of highways connecting cities of all sizes. Driving individual cars has become part of the Texas lifestyle for many, and all that driving inevitably leads to traffic, expenses, and emissions. Most of us have done considerably less driving lately in light of recent COVID-19 shutdowns, but as we start to venture back out, we will need to Take Care of Texas on the road with the good habits below.
Heed Warning Lights
Pay attention to warning lights! Those little indicators on your dashboard mean that something is amiss in your car. In addition to engine trouble that could leave you stranded, a car that is not running at its best could also be dragging fuel efficiency down, costing you more than $500 per year. To get an idea of what’s causing the warning lights to come on, ask your local auto parts shop if they will scan your car for free, and follow up with a mechanic.
Check Your Tire Pressure
Check your tire pressure regularly. Over- or under-inflated tires will hamper your car’s handling, cause them to wear out faster, and reduce your fuel efficiency. All of these problems will create more waste and air pollution and cost you more at the pump. Your vehicle’s owner manual or a label stuck to the driver’s side front door frame will tell you the ideal tire pressure for your car. An inexpensive pen-style gauge will tell you how close you are to the correct pressure. Many tire shops will top off your tires for free, so just ask!
What’s the hurry? You’ll get there when you get there, so lay off the gas pedal. Speed up gradually and brake early to avoid sudden starts and stops that use more fuel. Your wallet and your fellow drivers will thank you.
Does your car feel like you could bake cookies in it on a hot day? Cooling off when you’re on the go is a given, but running the AC in your car can reduce your fuel efficiency by up to 25 percent! Try driving with the windows down when you first start to push fresh, cooler air though your car before cranking up the AC, especially after parking in the sun for a while. If possible, always park in the shade or use a windshield visor to keep those blazing rays off the car.
Idling, or letting your car engine run while you’re parked, can use about ¼ gallon of gas per hour — and you’re not even going anywhere. Avoid situations that require idling, such as long drive-thru lines. If you stop your car and expect to be there for more than 30 seconds, turn the car off to cut back on emissions and save you some fuel.
Choose Alternative Transportation
Find creative ways to drive less, especially for short trips and traveling alone. Share a ride with a friend or coworker, combine all of your errands for the week into one trip, save some gas by taking the bus, and walk or ride a bike on shorter trips for a little bonus exercise.
Being a responsible driver is super easy and every effort you make goes a long way to Take Care of Texas!
If you would like to tell us about your favorite driving tips, Share Your Story. Don’t hold back if you want to brag!
You can order free printed copies of our handy infographic, “Six Driving Tips to Save You Money and Keep the Air Clean” to share with your community on our Publications page.