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Fuel economy for GOVs, POVs

Vehicle Maintenance Mechanic, Staff Sgt. Mario Alvarez, inspects an air filter from a government truck to ensure the vehicle’s fuel efficiency. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. David Neve)

Vehicle Maintenance Mechanic, Staff Sgt. Mario Alvarez, inspects an air filter from a government truck to ensure the vehicle’s fuel efficiency. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. David Neve)

TUCSON. Ariz. -- Whether driving a government vehicle on the job or driving your own vehicle to work, we can all make a positive impact on the amount of fuel we consume.

In fact, it's a requirement for all military units. In January 2007, the President issued Executive Order 13423, Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management.

This order directs government agencies to reduce consumption in several areas, including; water, energy and fossil fuels. A major challenge will be to reduce the amount of petroleum products used in our vehicle fleet by 2 percent per year through 2015.

In May, the 162nd Fighter converted half its GSA (Government Services Administration) fleet into E-85 compatible vehicles. This first step toward reduction makes use of ethanol-based fuel and helps the wing meet initial goals.

With the rising costs of fuel everyone can apply a few simple practices. Here are some tips that will reduce fuel consumption, both in your personal vehicle as well as in the government vehicles you use.

The U.S. Department of Energy offers the following suggestions:

Drive Sensibly
Aggressive driving, speeding, rapid acceleration and braking, wastes gas. It can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and by 5 percent around town. Sensible driving is also safer for you and others, so you may save more than gas money. 

Observe the Speed Limit
While each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed (or range of speeds), gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. You can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.30 per gallon for gas. Observing the speed limit is also safer.

Remove Excess Weight
Avoid keeping unnecessary items in your vehicle, especially heavy ones. An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could reduce your MPG by up to 2%. The reduction is based on the percentage of extra weight relative to the vehicle's weight and affects smaller vehicles more than larger ones.

Avoid Excessive Idling
Idling gets 0 miles per gallon. Cars with larger engines typically waste more gas at idle than do cars with smaller engines.

Use Cruise Control
Using cruise control on the highway helps you maintain a constant speed and, in most cases, will save gas.

Use Overdrive Gears
When you use overdrive gearing, your car's engine speed goes down. This saves gas and reduces engine wear.

Keep Your Engine Properly Tuned
Fixing a car that is noticeably out of tune or has failed an emissions test can improve its gas mileage by an average of 4 percent, though results vary based on the kind of repair and how well it is done. Fixing a serious maintenance problem, such as a faulty oxygen sensor, can improve your mileage by as much as 40 percent.

Check & Replace Air Filters Regularly
Replacing a clogged air filter can improve your car's gas mileage by as much as 10 percent. Your car's air filter keeps impurities from damaging the inside of your engine. Not only will replacing a dirty air filter save gas, it will protect your engine.

Keep Tires Properly Inflated
You can improve your gas mileage by around 3.3 percent by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.4 percent for every 1 psi drop in pressure of all four tires. Properly inflated tires are safer and last longer.

Use the Recommended Grade of Motor Oil
You can improve your gas mileage by 1-2 percent by using the manufacturer's recommended grade of motor oil. For example, using 10W-30 motor oil in an engine designed to use 5W-30 can lower your gas mileage by 1-2 percent. Using 5W-30 in an engine designed for 5W-20 can lower your gas mileage by 1-1.5 percent. Also, look for motor oil that says "Energy Conserving" on the API performance symbol to be sure it contains friction-reducing additives.

To learn more about fuel economy visit www.fueleconomy.gov.