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VW L1

Photo by RudolfSimon via Wikimedia Commons

Size matters, but not as much as you think. When it comes to fuel-efficient cars, the best ones have a combination of good aerodynamics, lightweight, low drive line, and a small or medium-size engine.

Eco-friendly cars are the way of the future. More vehicle, parts, and tire manufacturers are coming up with new and creative ways to offer consumers the best fuel-efficient and environmentally-sound cars. Not only do these eco-vehicles save on gas and energy, they do their part for environmental carbon reduction. FuelEconomy.gov reports 1.6 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases are emitted into the atmosphere by highway vehicles each year. That’s 20 pounds of carbon dioxide per gallon of gas. Drivers who choose hybrid and electric vehicles greatly reduce the amount of carbon emissions entering the atmosphere which helps slow climate change.

Motorists may not be able to get their hands on the VW XL1 quite yet, but can still make savvy decisions to wring the best mileage from vehicles fitting the following criteria.

VW claims the XL1 is the most fuel efficient car ever with an estimated 261 mpg.

Vehicle Aerodynamics

Optimal fuel economy requires a vehicle that is aerodynamic. Aerodynamic designs look sleek and can improve fuel efficiency by one mile per gallon, when compared to vehicles that do not move through the air as easily.

The visual profile of a vehicle can help determine whether it is aerodynamic or not. Although some exceptions exist, a boxy shape is usually less aerodynamic than vehicles with a slight curve. Look for cars that curve along the top and back. Avoid vehicles with a clear box-type shape, which will require more effort to move forward.

Use vehicles lower to the ground. Cars with less air flowing below will not be slowed down or fight against wind on the top and bottom of the vehicle.

Vehicle Weight

The weight of the vehicle plays a significant role in fuel efficiency. As a general rule, a heavier car or truck will have a lower mile per gallon, on average, than a lighter vehicle. Tirebuyer.com advises against purchasing a heavy vehicle, like a van or truck, unless it is necessary for your job, family or terrain. It is more fuel efficient to select a Sedan, compact vehicle or Coupe.

Select a vehicle that has a lower weight, if possible. Even if you need a larger vehicle, look at the weight of the vehicle and compare it. An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle will cause your fuel efficiency to drop by roughly two percent. Pay attention to the weight of the vehicle when you are making a selection to get better gas mileage within the specific class of vehicles.

Even the type of tires you buy can affect the weight and fuel efficiency of your vehicle. Under-inflated tires can make your car work harder and use more gas. Nitrogen-inflated tires lose air four times slower than air-inflated tires that also contain oxygen and water. Inflating your tires with nitrogen is also safer and improves tire wear and rim life.

Select a Vehicle With Low Drive Line Weight

Drive line weight is the weight of moving components within your vehicle. Whether you currently own a vehicle or want to buy a new car, changing out the axles, flywheel, crank shaft and other moving parts for lighter options will reduce your fuel expenses.

Stopping and Starting

Even if you select a vehicle that is designed to have better mileage, your actions behind the wheel will impact your fuel efficiency. The law of inertia states that objects in motion will continue moving until an external force causes it to stop. In the case of a vehicle, applying the brakes will cause it to stop. Unfortunately, if you are constantly stopping and then forcing the car into motion again, it will make your fuel efficiency drop.

The U.S. Department of Energy suggests that aggressive driving will actually reduce your fuel economy by roughly 33 percent. Drive at the speed limit to reduce the impact on your fuel.

Engine size and the amount of horsepower within a vehicle are only one factor that impacts your gas mileage. Before you buy a new car, take the weight of the vehicle and the aerodynamic design into account.

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Putting Nitrogen in Your Bike Tires

On July 11, 2013, in Nitrogen Tire Inflation, Tire Care, by allisonmreilly
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nitrogen tire inflationSummer isn’t just a perfect time for a road trip. It’s also a perfect time to ride our bikes, to get some exercise, and to enjoy the warm weather. It also means that as we use our bikes again, we also need to think about maintaining them well and ensuring we will have a safe ride and will not have to worry (too much) about getting a flat. Much like with managed fleets and family vehicles, nitrogen tire inflation can also be a crucial component to tire care and safety with your bike tires.

What’s the Big Deal with Nitrogen Bike Tires?

We’ve talked about how great nitrogen tire inflation is for the consumer market, and how nitrogen tire inflation benefits managed fleets and the transportation industry. Those same benefits, with exception to fuel efficiency, also apply to bike tires, such as

  • the ability to hold pressure longer
  • reduced moisture going into the tires, which extends the life of the rims, tire, and tire valves
  • reduced rolling resistance
  • reduced chance for a flat or a blowout

On top of that, putting nitrogen in bike tires is a growing practice among cyclists. The Tour de France uses nitrogen in its tires, and bicycle sharing systems in cities such as New York, Montreal, London, and Paris also use nitrogen. This isn’t something that’s experimental, or something that’s practiced by only a small group of riders. Large systems and entities are using it, and wouldn’t be using it if it didn’t work or make any difference. As David Finlayson, president of Prestacycle, said in Velo News, “Remember that a 100-mile bike race is often won by only inches. Even the smallest difference in tire pressure loss reduction or rolling resistance can make the difference at the line.”

Not Everyone is in a Bike Race

This is true, and worth pointing out because it’s an argument that’s often used against nitrogen tire inflation as a legitimate practice outside of a competitive environment. Sure, the airline industry and NASCAR use nitrogen tires, but those are special circumstances, circumstances that don’t apply to everyone else. However, just because nitrogen tires are useful in a special circumstances doesn’t mean that the practice doesn’t have any place, application, or benefit in normal riding conditions. In fact, nitrogen tire inflation and proper tire pressure are even more important for bike tires and bike riders since bike tires typically hold less pressure than car and truck tires (normal bike tires are usually under 30 psi while car tires have a maximum of 50 psi). This means that any loss in pressure, or having under-inflated tires, has a much larger impact on the ride and in safety because there’s less pressure to work with. Although losing one psi in pressure makes a difference in cars, it makes a bigger difference in bike tire.

Overall, putting nitrogen in your bike tires isn’t a new practice, but it’s one that hasn’t received much attention or discussion. Granted, it’s a little tougher to put nitrogen in your bike tires because nitrogen isn’t as available for cyclists as it is for cars and trucks. Yet, with increased need and awareness, this situation could change.

Related Links:

Why Nitrogen is Great for Tire Pressure

Nitrogen Tire Inflation Proved to Create Hybrid Tires

Nitrogen in Tires will Absolutely Save on Gas

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