3 Simple Tips to Maximize Your SUV’s Fuel Efficiency

Published September 28, 2016 by Sean Jackson

SUVs are great in they provide the practicality needed for your everyday driving demands. However, while manufacturers have done well in improving fuel efficiency standards on their SUVs models, overall, they are not the most efficient segment on the road. This is where you come in. You can maximize your SUV’s fuel efficiency by employing these simple tips.

1. Conduct Regular Vehicle Maintenance

Keeping your SUV in peak operating condition reduces the likelihood of major components breaking down. This results in less surprise repair bills occurring. It also means your SUV performs as intended which benefits its performance and fuel efficiency. Therefore, doing oil changes, tire rotations and inspections at the specific intervals outlined in your vehicle owner’s manual helps your SUV deliver maximize fuel efficiency. Even something as small as using the recommended grade of oil increases your SUV’s fuel efficiency by as much as one to two percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Tires are another area to play close attention to. Most modern SUVs have built in tire pressure gauges, where you can access each tire’s PSI levels on your driver information display. You then can find the recommended tire inflation guide sticker, located in your SUV’s glove box or on your driver’s side door jamb, to see how the vehicle’s readings correlate with the manufacturer’s specifications. Keep your SUV’s tires inflated to their proper levels will ensure it delivers the best fuel efficiency. To maintain top performance, you want to have regular tune-ups done on your SUV. Normally, when you do these will vary depending on the mileage, year and shape of your vehicle. For many newer SUVs, the mileage will play a huge role. Ideally, you want to replace the spark plugs every 30,000 miles unless your model contains platinum spark plugs then it’s every 60,000 miles. Again, your vehicle owner’s manual will be a good resource to use when determining when to do a tuneup. Considering that a tune-up could save you up to nine cents a gallon, it’s a small but effective way to maximize fuel efficiency.

2. Adjust Your Driving Behaviors

Since your SUV responds to your driving behaviors, it makes sense how you drive will influence what your vehicle’s fuel efficiency is. With this in mind, changing certain behaviors can go a long way to increasing your vehicle’s fuel economy. The biggest changes come if you drive aggressively. This is where you accelerate quickly from a stop or idled position, brake briskly and/or speed. Anytime you do these behaviors you place extra stress on your vehicle. To compensate, your SUV works harder, reducing its fuel efficiency. The most dramatic impact comes when doing these behaviors on the highway, as they can reduce your SUV’s fuel efficiency up to 33 percent. Speeding is one of the easiest to control on your part. The U.S. Department of Energy states that if you drive 5 miles over the speed limit it’s the cost equivalent of paying up to $0.16 per gallon for gas. This might seem negligible in the short term, but if you speed often then the costs wrack up. To account for this, if your SUV has the cruise control, set it to the speed limit. This ensures you maintain a steady speed and you adhere to the speeding limit, both of which helps your vehicle deliver better efficiency. If you commute in heavily trafficked areas then you probably do your fair share of idling. Excessive idling dampers your SUV’s ability to generate the best efficiency. It zaps, even more, efficiency if you have the air conditioner on. With these things in mind, you can turn off your SUV when in idled situations, and if you are in the market for a new vehicle look for one with auto start/stop capabilities. More manufacturers are offering these standard on their SUVs. One often overlooked component of driving behaviors is the frequency of your trips. To illustrate, the more times you have to leave your home or office to run errands, the worse your SUV fuel efficiency is because it takes more energy to warm up its engine. A good alternative is to plan trips in advance, combining stops if you can. This reduces the stress you have to place on your vehicle. As part of the planning process, you can reduce the stress placed on your vehicles by traveling during non-peak traffic times, as this cuts down on the amount of idling you have to do. You can also join a car-sharing program, telecommute—if your company allows it—or even use public transit if you live in an area that offers it. What these things accomplish is they reduce the amount wear on your vehicle while also saving you money in fuel expenses.

3. Pack Smart

One of the main intentions of SUVs is to give you ample space to transport items. At the same time, the more weight your SUV has to carry the less efficient it will be. This is prevalent more if you have a compact SUV because it takes more energy for your vehicle to tow the added weight. Therefore, it’s important to keep heavier items in your SUV only when you need them. If you store items in there, every trip represents more work for your vehicle, resulting in less efficiency. You also want to refrain from storing items on your SUV’s roof. While cargo boxes provide more space inside your vehicle, they also reduce the aerodynamic drag. In turn, this reduces your SUV’s fuel efficiency. Overall, what you will discover is there are a number of things you can do to maximize your SUV’s fuel efficiency. What these tips represent is by altering small behaviors such as how you drive, when you drive and how you take care of your vehicle, you can make changes that result in better efficiency and more money saved.

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