You probably already know that improving your gas mileage can save you a bunch of money at the pump. Gas costs have risen substantially over recent years and have led to more Americans driving their vehicles less or opting for smaller, more fuel-efficient cars. So, what can you do to improve mileage for your car? Read on for tips and preventive measures to ensure your car is the most gas efficient it can be.
1. Shift Gears Efficiently
If you’re trying to improve your gas mileage, one of the easiest things you can do is learn how to shift gears efficiently. It’s probably not something you think about while driving, but the way you shift can have a noticeable impact on your gas mileage.
The most significant factor is whether you drive a manual or automatic transmission. If you have an automatic, don’t punch the gas pedal. But if you have a manual transmission, shifting smoothly and efficiently can help save gas.
It is recommended to shift into a higher gear as soon as possible when driving a manual vehicle. For example, when coming to a stop, apply the brakes instead of shifting down into first gear. If you’re going downhill, put the car in second gear; this will maximize the engine’s power and minimize its speed.
2. Drive and Accelerate Slower
The best way to improve your gas mileage is to drive with a light foot, smooth acceleration, and steady speeds. It may seem counterintuitive but driving the speed of traffic can increase your gas mileage. In general, the faster you go, the more gas you use. Therefore, driving the speed limit or even just five or 10 miles over it can save you as much as 10 percent on gasoline costs.
Accelerating slowly and steadily also saves up on gas. According to Forbes, avoiding hard acceleration and braking, staying at or below the speed limit, and not driving with your foot on the gas pedal can save you up to 10% per gallon in fuel costs. For example, if you drive at 70 mph on the highway and slow down to 65 mph, you will save close to 27 cents per gallon.
3. Pay Attention to Your Tires
The tread on your tires will affect your gas mileage. In addition, it can be a drag on your driving performance if it is worn down. To get the most out of your vehicle, you should take care of the tires and make sure they are in good condition. It is recommended that you check the tread on your tires once a month.
Another key to ideal gas mileage is to ensure that your tires are at the proper air pressure. An underinflated tire will not only affect your gas mileage but will also affect or even ruin the integrity of your rims. An overinflated tire also causes issues; it will burn out more quickly by placing more stress on the tires. Properly inflated tires will save you up to cents per gallon.
4. Do Regular Maintenance
If you want to improve your gas mileage, you need to start with a good tune-up. The first thing to do is to change the oil and filter. An engine with dirty oil gets fewer miles per gallon than one with clean oil. It is because the engine doesn’t burn off carbon deposits when the oil is dirty.
If you have an automatic transmission, check the fluid level, and ensure it’s packed with the proper type of transmission fluid. Automatic transmissions use a lot of fluid, so it’s important to check this regularly. If you don’t have enough fluid in your transmission, your vehicle will run sluggishly.
If you have a manual transmission, make sure that it’s lubricated by adding gear lube or manual transmission fluid to it. Even if you haven’t driven the vehicle far or haven’t been on the road at all, there can still be some build-up inside, which causes friction and reduces your gas mileage.
Next, check the air filter and replace it if necessary. Depending on how severe the restriction is, a dirty air filter restricts airflow into the engine, causing reduced power and possibly overheating. To check for a hindrance in your air filter, hold it up to a light source and look through it.
5. Avoid Rush Hour When Possible
If you want to improve your gas mileage, avoid rush hour. It might seem obvious, but it’s the most significant single factor in how much fuel your car uses. The reason is simple: Rush hour produces a lot of congestion. Many vehicles are packed together in one place, moving at the same speed, and going nowhere. Your car must work harder to go slower.
The worst time for rush-hour driving is between 4 and 7 p.m. when there are more commuters than during the morning rush. However, traffic is not that bad between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., so it’s better to consider an earlier start time or later, if possible, particularly if you can change your routine around that period to avoid it altogether.
Additionally, idling your engine wastes fuel because the engine burns fuel without producing any power. If you’re going to stop for more than a minute or two, turn off your engine; it will save gas, reduce emissions, and save wear on your engine.
6. Use Cruise Control to Minimize Speed Fluctuations on the Highway
One of the easiest ways to improve your gas mileage is to take advantage of your vehicle’s cruise control. By driving at a consistent speed, you eliminate unnecessary speed fluctuations. In addition, it saves you from constantly accelerating and decelerating, which can be of massive help on long road trips.
If you don’t trust yourself with the gas pedal, consider using cruise control around town, too. It will help minimize speed fluctuations and save you gas.
7. Reduce the Car’s Weight
Removing excess weight from your vehicle is one of the best ways to improve mileage for your car. Carrying heavy items in your trunks, such as a ton of tools or luggage, can affect your gas mileage by up to 20 percent.
Towing a trailer or using roof racks can impact gas mileage by an additional 10 percent. These drastic effects will force you to fill up more often, costing you even more money.
The extra costs add up quickly, so it’s best to avoid them by sticking with lighter loads and removing unnecessary cargo. If you can’t remove the weight yourself, ask for help or hire someone with a truck and a ramp.
8. Use the Right Motor Oil for Your Vehicle
The most significant factor in ideal gas mileage is motor oil. All engines need motor oil to lubricate moving parts and protect against overheating, corrosion, and rust. In addition, a higher quality synthetic oil can improve fuel efficiency by reducing friction inside the engine.
Remember that your vehicle may need different oils for different components. For example, a 4-cycle engine will need an oil specifically formulated for it, while an 8-cycle engine needs another type of oil. The right kind of oil can make a big difference in how much fuel your car uses.
9. Proper Wheel Alignment
For an ideal gas mileage, the first thing to do is ensure that your vehicle’s wheels are correctly aligned. That goes for both tires individually and then for all four of them together. It’s easy to tell if your vehicle alignment is off somehow. For example, suppose you see excessive flat spots on your tires; it’s time to get an alignment.
A car that is not aligned correctly can suffer from premature tire wear and poor gas mileage, so it’s worth making sure that you take care of this issue before it becomes a problem.
If your tires are out of alignment by .017in., it’s equivalent to driving with a flat tire for 102 miles per 20,000 miles you drive. That will cost you $187.50 in wasted gas and $70 in tire costs every year.
10. Plan Your Trips and Combine Your Errands
The most effective way to get better gas mileage is to plan and, for instance, combine your errands. Knowing where you’re going and how much time you’ll take to get there can help you conserve fuel. Having a plan before you drive will save you from unnecessary stops or detours.
If you can visit more than one location on one tank of gas, do so. For example, rather than going out for lunch at the mall and then visiting a store afterward, park your car at the mall and walk around until you’re ready to go home. It is a perfect idea if you’re on foot or riding public transportation because you won’t have to pay for parking twice.
11. Reduce Gas Evaporation by Parking in the Shade
The biggest fuel gobbler in most cars is evaporative emissions. Because evaporation happens at low temperatures, it is the main reason that gas mileage suffers in the winter and improves markedly in warmer weather.
Because there are no moving parts, the evaporation process doesn’t require any energy. So, your car can’t improve its mileage by reducing the amount of evaporation. However, you can reduce how much evaporates by parking in the shade. If you park in a sunny spot, you might notice that your windows fog up when you leave your car for a while.
That’s because the sun heats the inside of your car and causes gas to evaporate quickly and form on cold windows. You could try rolling down the windows to clear away the fog, but that wouldn’t do much to help with fuel economy. Parking in a shady spot reduces this effect.
12. Renew a Failing Thermostat
You can save mileage for your vehicle by changing the thermostat on your car. A stuck thermostat is a common problem that causes vehicles to run hotter than they should, which reduces fuel efficiency. If the engine temperature stays high, more fuel is needed to cool it down.
Failing thermostats may stick open or closed. In either case, the vehicle will operate in a mode that causes it to use more fuel than necessary. The good news is that you can test for a bad thermostat yourself and replace it if required at an inexpensive cost. It is an easy fix that can save you money at the gas pump.
13. Keep Track of Your Gas Mileage
One of the simplest things you can do to improve your gas mileage is to keep track of your fuel economy. It’s one of the easiest ways to make a fast, positive difference in your wallet. Tracking your mileage allows you to spot problems and deal with them quickly before they become big problems.
For example, you can keep track of how many miles you drive in a week and fill up your tank once every two weeks to keep an eye on how much fuel you are consuming. It will be more accurate than your odometer if you get the average between fill-ups.
If you’re looking for a way to save gas money, you might want to consider adding a turbocharger to your vehicle. A turbocharger is a device that forces extra air into the engine, which creates more power. Since the engine gets more oxygen, it doesn’t work as hard and uses less gasoline.
It helps to improve your fuel efficiency and reduce your overall fuel consumption, which is why it has become so popular these days.
As you can see, there are many ways to improve gas mileage that goes beyond just changing your driving habits. First, assess your car and how you drive it, and consider what measures would be best for improving its fuel efficiency before making changes in either of those areas. Then, collect the numbers and evaluate the results. Tracking each change you’ve made will give you robust information you can use for the next steps to take, whatever they may be.