Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
SALT LAKE CITY — Inflation remains high for several reasons and one of the biggest is tied to gas prices. But you can bring down the price you pay with some relatively simple changes in your driving habits.
On KSL-TV at 10 p.m. on Monday, we put Google Maps' new eco-friendly routing tool to the test. After a day of driving back and forth between Salt Lake City and Herriman, we found that indeed, using the route Google marks as eco-friendly with a leaf symbol, we burned nearly a half-gallon less gas than the faster route.
The tradeoff was 9:02 in additional drive time. To factor the eco-route, Google Maps looks at things like traffic levels, elevations and stoplights. But a big factor is the speed limit. The eco-friendly route took me down Bangerter Highway at 60 mph, while the faster route took me down Interstate 15 at 70 mph.
But we could be saving more, Emilie Voss of Carfax said.
"If there's things you can do to save at the pump, we want to be doing them," Voss said.
One place to start is car maintenance, a major factor in fuel economy.
If you have ever tried to push a wheelbarrow with an under-inflated tire, you know that you must work a lot harder to haul it. The same goes for your car.
"It could impact your gas mileage by up to 3%," Voss said, "if you don't have the right air pressure in there."
Doing regular oil changes and using the right kind of oil for your car can also impact how much fuel you burn.
"It can reduce your gas mileage by about 1 to 2% if you're not using the proper grade of oil in your vehicle," she explained.
And that load of thrift store donations you have been driving around with in your trunk, well, it might be costing you more than you might think. The EPA says that for every 100 pounds removed from the vehicle, the fuel economy goes up 2% or more, depending on your car.
"Especially if you have a sedan," Voss said. "So, we know that extra weight in a smaller vehicle can make exponentially different gas mileage."
Aerodynamics also plays a major role in fuel efficiency. If you have a cargo box on top of your car that you leave there even when you are not using it, the drag it creates sucks away as much as 25% of the gas in your tank.