American commuters can save some $800 a year in gas by keeping their cars maintained, driving smoothly, and using alternative transportation one day a week. That's the conclusion the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) came to in its new report "Tuning Up America: Real Relief for High Gas Prices," which evaluates and offers strategies to help drivers save gas with the cars they already own. In the report, NRDC details potential fuel savings for 256 different passenger vehicles sold in the U.S. during the model year 2000.
"Americans are in real pain from high gas prices and getting our cars to go further on every gallon is the fastest way to save money," said Deron Lovaas, transportation policy director for NRDC. "Anyone who claims drilling for oil is the only answer to high gas prices is peddling snake oil to the American people. The ones who benefit from more drilling are big oil companies that stand to reap even more record profits."
The report evaluated three primary strategies for reducing fuel costs at the pump. First and foremost is vehicle maintenance, including tuning up the engine, keeping tires properly inflated, using manufacturers" recommended oil, and removing heavy unnecessary items from trunks and roof racks. Secondly, NRDC recommends smooth driving—avoiding rapid acceleration and aggressive high-speed driving—as another way to keep gas costs down. Lastly, commuters can save big at the pump by replacing single-occupancy car commuting one day a week with public transportation, carpooling, telecommuting or other options.
"The right way to deal with high gas prices is by reducing demand through greater efficiency," said Jim Presswood, NRDC's energy analyst. "We should not open up pristine areas for a drop in the bucket of oil. We have proven ways at our fingertips to save gas, by promoting fuel-efficient technology."