I developed a bad habit over the winter that I know is costing me at the gas pump. I’ve been starting the car engine just as soon as I can in the hope that the heater would shorten my exposure to the cold winter air.
We all hope that getting the engine going quickly will hasten the time when that nice warm air flows out of the heater. But when your car is standing still, with the engine running, your gas mileage is ZERO. That is as bad as it gets. Starting the engine before you are ready to get rolling is a waste of your money and fuel.
The Weather Made Me Do It.
I know all this but the hard Michigan winter that we just survived tricked me into starting the engine just as soon as I climbed in behind the wheel. As example when I finish my work day I hike out to the parking lot, climb in and immediately start the engine.
And then I dig out my cell phone and call home. I call to have my wife unlock the door and to get the list. There are often one or two items to be picked up during my homeward commute. Stopping along the way for fresh milk does save fuel as compared to making an extra trip out later. But, my sitting there with the engine running while we talk is costing money right now.
Yes, it is safer to make the call before the wheels start rolling. I should wait to turn the ignition key on until after the talking is done and I am ready to drive.
Don’t Idle Your Money Away
When I stop at the bank drive in window to get some spending cash I should switch off the engine. Cutting off the engine will save me money and cutting out the noise will make it easier to hear the reaction of the teller when I ask for some slow twenties. My bank keeps giving me fast twenties that disappear far too quickly at the gas pump.
Switch off the ignition at the fast food drive through. Also, never leave the engine running when you get out of the car. Leaving a car with the engine running is risky and a waste of fuel money.
Starting Your Car Engine Does Not Use Extra Fuel
It does not cost more to restart the car and it always saves when you shut it off. Next time you go to start your car mentally hit the pause button. Adjust the mirrors, adjust the seat and put your cell phone away. Look around for safety and then start the engine and get going right away.
If You Want to Waste Your Money on Fuel Do This
Using a remote starter button is nice for preheating your car and melting the ice and snow off the windows but you do pay extra for that luxury at the gas pump. When I had to park my car outside over winter nights I used to run out and start the engine. Then I quickly returned to the nice warm house to finish my coffee before leaving for work. Nice warm car but empty wallet.
I learned. I put an electric space heater in the car and ran an extension cord to the house. A quick plug in on the front porch would get the heater working while I returned to the hot coffee. Up goes the electric bill in place of the higher fuel bill. The problem was that the cord was a tripping hazard and the electric heater a fire hazard. The car was warm and the windows ice free when I finished my coffee. Plus there was a small savings because electric heat is less expensive than Zero MPG fuel use.
Engine Warm Up Is Not Needed Now
If your ride is a 1950’s or older model some warm up time to get the motor oil circulating before making the engine work hard is a good idea. But if you are drive something newer letting the engine “Warm up” is just a waste of fuel.
Spring is arriving so I don’t need to preheat the car to melt snow and ice off the windows. My current ride is only 189,000 miles old so I have no excuse for letting the engine idle my gas away.
Remember if the wheels are not rolling you are getting Zero miles per gallon when the engine is burning your fuel money.