Drive more efficiently. Keep your vehicle properly tuned. Plan and combine trips. Choose a more efficient vehicle. You've probably heard these fuel conservation tips frequently repeated in the media recently. Why are these ideas being belabored? Because there's a national push for Americans to reduce their fuel consumption. In addition, these travel tips can help horse owners save money at the fuel pump and enhance the safety of their precious cargo.
According to the Energy Information Administration, the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas during September 2005 was $2.90. The energy market is extremely volatile and could increase, further squeezing budgets.
USRider urges horse owners to take a multi-faceted approach to conserve energy and to lower their overall fuel costs while traveling with their horses.
Through its Equestrian Motor Plan, USRider offers nationwide roadside assistance especially for equestrians. The plan includes standard features such as flat-tire repair, battery assistance and lockout services, plus towing up to 100 miles and roadside repairs for tow vehicles and trailers with horses, emergency stabling, veterinary and farrier referrals, and more.
USRider offers these suggestions for conserving fuel while traveling. These tips work for most vehicles:
• Keep Engine Properly Tuned: Depending upon the kind of repair done, this can result in an average 4% increase in fuel efficiency. Replacing a faulty oxygen sensor can improve fuel mileage as much as 40%.
• Check & Replace Air Filter: Replacing a clogged air filter can improve your vehicle's mileage up to 10 percent.
Keep Tires Properly Inflated – Proper inflation can increase your mileage by around 3 percent. An added benefit is that properly inflated tires are safer and last longer*.
• Use Recommended Grade of Motor Oil: Using the incorrect weight can increase fuel consumption by 1-2%. Look for motor oil that says "Energy Conserving" on the API performance symbol to be sure it contains friction-reducing additives.
• Drive Sensibly: Aggressive driving can lower your fuel mileage by one-third. Sensible driving is also safer for your horse(s).
• Observe the Speed Limit: The Department of Energy says that each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.21 for each gallon of fuel. An added benefit is that observing the speed limit is also safer for your horse(s).
• Avoid Excessive Idling: Idling gets 0 miles per gallon.
• Use Cruise Control: Using cruise control (where applicable) helps you maintain a constant speed and, in most cases, will save fuel. Do not use cruise control if you are tired or fatigued. In fact, if you are tired or fatigued, you should not be trailering horses.
• Use Overdrive Gears: When your engine speed goes down, your mileage goes up. An added benefit is that using overdrive gears reduces engine wear.
Vehicle maintenance and safe operation also helps the environment. A properly tuned vehicle with correct tire inflation, driven at the correct speed reduces the detrimental impacts automobiles have on the environment.
"Another tip is to lower your fuel costs by shopping," said Mark Cole, managing member for USRider. "Don't wait until your tank is empty--shop for low prices."
Numerous Internet resources are available to help in the hunt for cheaper fuel:
• www.gaspricewatch.com; This web site uses volunteers to report prices at over 100,000 fuel prices all over the country. Simply enter your ZIP code.
• www.gasbuddy.com; This web site also works with ZIP codes and compiles information from other web sites that track local prices.
Additional fuel economy tips are posted on www.fueleconomy.gov. This site also has links to local fuel prices and information about Wacky Wednesdays and other promotions.
* Additional information about air pressure: Underinflation is the number one reason for early tire failure--tires can lose up to 50% of their air and not look flat or low. Air pressure goes up in warm weather, down in cold weather--approximately 1-2 lbs. for every 10 degrees of temperature change. Don't forget to check spares on both your trailer and tow vehicle. USRider recommends carrying two mounted spares for your horse trailer. For trailer tires, the recommended air pressure is stamped on the side of each tire. For vehicles, air pressure recommendations are stamped on the vehicle door edge, door post, glove box, or fuel door (and owner's manual). Check the pressure when tires are cool, before you drive.
For more information about USRider and more equine trailer safety tips, visit the USRider web site at www.usrider.org, or call 800/844-1409 or visit www.usrider.org.