The price of gas directly affects your bottom line as a mystery shopper. As we have watched the price of gasoline edge up over $4 a gallon, many shoppers have become very selective about the shops they are willing to accept and they are refusing to travel more than a few miles from home.
Could you expand the number and types of shops you do if you could save 20%, 30%, 50% or more on gasoline?
There are lots of ways to save on gas, but the most effective way is to change the way you drive. Chances are, your driving habits are costing you big bucks. Here are a few simple things you can do now to immediately increase your gas mileage.
The most important thing you can do is avoid sudden starts and stops. When you approach an intersection where you may have to come to a stop, take your foot off the gas pedal well before you reach the stop light or sign. Avoid ‘jackrabbit’ starts and accelerate gradually. This isn’t a drag race, so you do not have to jump off the line.
When possible, avoid stopping. When you are approaching a red light, slow down. If you time it right, the light may turn green before you get there, allowing you to go through the intersection without coming to a full stop. (Note: Always come to a full stop at stop signs. Never coast past a stop sign because, “There isn’t anyone coming on the cross street.”)
Drive at or below the speed limit. Driving faster uses more gas.
Use cruise control to drive a consistent speed on the highway. When driving on the highway, it is easy for your speed to creep up without you noticing, or your speed may fluctuate as you accelerate and brake. Keeping a constant speed will save fuel.
Don’t run the air conditioner and other accessories unless you must. They cause you to use more fuel. The exception is that using your air conditioner at freeway speeds uses less fuel than driving with the windows open.
Get your car up to temperature. When your engine is cold it is less efficient. Do not warm up the engine by idling it before you leave. Instead, drive to your farthest destination first, then work your way back. The longer drive will warm up the engine making the stopping and starting less stressful on the engine.
Stay out of the drive through. Avoid idling the car unnecessarily. That means parking and going in to the bank and other places instead of using the drive through lane. (Of course, if you are doing a mystery shop of a drive through restaurant, you will have to use the drive through lane.)
Techniques advocated by some hypermilers are not safe. They could damage your car or even get you injured or killed. For example, turning off your vehicle while you are driving, or tailgating large trucks to take advantage of the ‘draft’ are not recommended.
Although keeping your tires properly inflated will help your mileage, over-inflating your tires leads to uneven tire wear, can make the car difficult to handle (especially in wet weather) and in extreme cases can even lead to a tire blowing out and losing control of the vehicle.
Start training yourself to use these techniques and you will see the results in your wallet. You can learn more about hypermiling on Wikipedia.
What are you doing to use less gas?