By Bob Carpenter
When it comes to conserving fuel, the easiest thing to do is slow down. But that's not likely is it? You're reading this because you are a pickup truck enthusiast and you're, well, enthused about driving. We get it. You don't have to drive like a granny to save some money on fuel, though. Just realize that resistance goes up as the square of velocity. It gets harder and harder for your engine to increase the speed of your truck as you go faster. Realistically, there are significantly diminished returns after you hit 40 mph. So you might want to go the actual speed limit when it is 55 or 65 mph, especially if fuel prices continue to climb.
But, hey, we're not your mom, so here are 10 things you can do to save fuel that don't take the fun out of driving.
1. Anticipate Stop Signs and Lights
Slowing down far enough in advance that you can roll through the intersection just after it turns green is a lot less wasteful than sitting at the light. Of course, don't go crazy and run the red. Likewise, when you are on city streets and you know you have to stop in 100 yards for a stop sign there's no reason to lean on the throttle when you take off from the previous stop sign. Just roll off the line and mildly accelerate when you know you're going to be stopping again soon. You'll be surprised how far and how fast your truck will coast. Some people have found that they can increase their fuel mileage by as much as 50 percent by just doing this. Think of it as a game.
2. Pump Them Up
Keep your tires inflated properly. Yeah, yeah, you've no doubt read that a hundred times before, but there's a reason everyone tells you that. Proper inflation can mean as much as 3.3 percent in fuel savings according to the Department of Energy.
3. Don't Idle
Don't sit in a drive-through line if you are in a pickup with a gasoline engine; however, diesels don't use nearly as much fuel when idling. Either way, if you are idling for less than a minute it probably doesn't matter.
4. Get a Bigger Tank
Since you're driving a pickup truck you are lucky because you can add an aftermarket fuel tank to hold a whole lot more of the precious "go juice." When you find fuel at a particularly attractive price, buy a lot of it and save money over the course of the full tank.
5. Use an App
There are apps that will help you find the cheapest fuel — it might be at Costco, a supermarket chain (if you belong to its loyalty club) or an independent station. Apps know where you are and where the cheapest fuel is. And here's a good tip: Don't buy fuel on Friday, Saturday or Sunday — that's when the prices are the highest. In fact, most stations raise their prices after 10 a.m. on Thursday in anticipation of weekend sales.
6. Keep the Tank Full
OK, some pundits say you should run around with the least amount of fuel possible so that you aren't carrying extra weight (gas weighs about 6 pounds per gallon while diesel is about 7 pounds per gallon), but we think that's dicey. Instead, we're more concerned about the evaporation and condensation that occurs in an "emptier" fuel tank. Keep it full and you won't have these problems. And park in the shade or in a garage to minimize any heat buildup.
7. Keep It Clean
A dirty air filter can cost you as much as 7 percent in your fuel mileage. Don't drive around dirty.
8. Follow the Blue Line
Use your GPS to find the quickest way around traffic or through busy towns and cities. Less traffic means less idling and better fuel economy.
9. Buy Gas Gift Cards
Places like www.plasticjungle.com and www.giftcardgranny.com sometimes sell $100 gas gift cards for $95. That's like getting almost two gallons of fuel for free. If you don't like gift cards, then pay cash at stations that offer a cash discount.
10. Keep 'Em Closed
Keep your windows closed. The drag can cost you up to 10 percent in fuel efficiency, on the highway anyway. Around town you're better off turning off the air conditioning and opening the windows.
Cars.com photos by Bob Carpenter; manufacturer photos