How To Be Fuel Efficient

The more your car weighs, the more fuel it uses. By re-thinking what you carry around, you can help reduce our nation’s reliance on oil and save yourself a couple of bucks — not enough to turn you into Leona Helmsley, perhaps, but every little bit counts.

By Aaron Gold

Here are a few unnecessary items that may be weighing your car down. In other words: Get That Junk Out Of Your Trunk!

Emergency Junk

A few years back, it was a good idea to keep a set of jumper cables in your trunk — but in these days of ubiquitous mobile phone coverage, a jump start is just a phone call away. (Most new cars come with a free roadside assistance program, and there’s always AAA.) A blanket is a good idea, but you can buy lightweight foil-covered emergency blankets that weigh a couple of ounces and take up much less room than your grandmother’s old wool afghan. And if you keep flares in your trunk, consider replacing them with a plastic emergency triangle, which is both lighter and safer.

Seasonal Junk

If you live where it snows, it’s a good idea to carry a snow brush, snow chains, an extra gallon of washer fluid, and maybe even a shovel. But that’s ten or fifteen pounds you don’t need in your car once springtime comes. Likewise, if you’re the sort of optimistic opportunist who keeps a beach umbrella and folding lounge chair in the car, we applaud you — but come December, they can stay in the garage.

Spare Tire Junk

Many new-car manufacturers are eliminating spare tires and replacing them with tire sealing kits. If you live in a populated area, you can do the same — a can of tire sealant such as “Fix-A-Flat” will handle punctures long enough to get to a tire repair shop, and for more severe tire damage, your roadside assistance program (see “Emergency Junk” above) should include free towing. Leave your spare tire and jack in your garage, but consider taking them with you if you’re going on a long trip, or if you live in a rural community.

Baby Junk, Pet Junk, and Sports Junk

We all have equipment that we keep in our cars for convenience, but we don’t use all the time — toys for the kids, an extra leash and water bowl for the dog, running shoes, etc. Instead of riding around with them all the time, consider buying shower caddies for each category of stuff, and leave them by the door — that makes it easy to take what you need when you need it, and just as easy to leave it home.

Junk You Just Don’t Need

Every car, no matter how neat and tidy its owner, seems to accumulate a collection of miscellaneous stuff — extra sunglasses, old water bottles, outdated paperwork. Make it a point to give your car a thorough clean-out every few months.

Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. is not responsible for the content of this column.

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