Want to increase your gas economy and obtain better fuel mileage? Of course you do! Who doesn’t want to improve their MPG’s? Squeezing just a few more miles per gallon can bring huge benefits. Luckily, there are some easy (and free) steps you can do to increase fuel economy. Here’s our top 10 list:
Driving For Better Gas Mileage
10. Timing Traffic Lights
If you use proper defensive driving techniques and look far ahead while driving, this should come naturally for you. Starting from a stop absolutely destroys your gas economy and miles per gallon. So try to time the traffic lights as a way of improving your fuel mileage. If you look far down the road and see that a traffic light is red, let off the gas and start slowing down. Try to time it so that you don’t even have to touch the brakes. If possible, see if the cross traffic light is changing to yellow or not. Is there anybody in the left turn lanes? If so, the left arrow will probably turn green first. You can also check the pedestrian signals as they can also give you an indication. So try to time it just right. This takes practice, but can save you more than you think on gas costs and even save on your cars brakes.
9. Change your Air Filters
Ok, that’s not exactly free. But it’s pretty cheap and something you should be doing anyway. For some reason, people seem to ignore this simple piece of gas saving advice. Check your owners manual and see how often your air filter should be replaced. An air filter is very cheap and you can probably change it yourself. When the air filter gets too dirty, you essentially “choke” the engine of proper airflow and oxygen. This, in turn, makes you get bad gas economy. So don’t ignore that air filter. A very cheap DIY replacement can save you in the long run.
8. Use Cruise Control
Some people are afraid to use cruise control. If you want to get better gas economy, than get used to using the cruise. Keeping your RPM’s steady is a sure way to improve fuel mileage. The only exception here is if you’re driving in very hilly or mountainous areas. The cruise control tends to continue accelerating even after the crest of a hill. So in this case, cut off the cruise and use your foot. Also, due to safety reasons, don’t ever use your cruise control in adverse weather conditions.
7. Use Properly Inflated Tires
Here is yet another very simple, yet commonly avoided tip for better gas economy. Running with improperly inflated tires can empty your gas tank a bit quicker than you think, and it decreases tire life too. That’s a double whammy to your wallet. How often should you check your tire pressure for optimum gas mileage? While every week would be best, at a minimum, check about once per month as outdoor temperatures fluctuate and thus, change your tire pressure. Make sure you check your tire pressure before you drive while the tires are cold.
6. Keep the A/C Off and the Windows Up
Either do both, or choose the lesser of two evils depending on the situation. Using the air conditioning in your car uses up precious horsepower, which, in turn, uses more gas and decreases MPGs. So keep the A/C off whenever possible. But at the same time, having your windows open increases drag, which decreases fuel mileage. If it’s too hot and you must decide one or the other, you’re better off using the air conditioning during highway driving and keeping the windows down during stop and go city driving.
5. Increase your Following Distance
Maintaining proper following distance isn’t only a safe driving practice, it will increase your gas economy too. By keeping a larger following distance, you can make smoother adjustments. If you drive too close, you’re forced to brake and accelerate at a much more erratic pace (rabbit hopping). That destroys gas and fuel mileage. By staying further away from other vehicles, you will also have improved vision and can better plan for future obstacles, emergencies, etc. Increasing following distance will never work against you, so back off!
4. Don’t Idle
If you’re stopped and your car is simply idling, it might be best to shut the car off. The general rule of thumb is, if you will idle your car for longer than 3 minutes, you should simply shut the vehicle off. Newer model cars don’t need to “warm up” before you start driving, so forget about that. Of course, for comfort reasons, you might still want to do that during a cold day such as when you’re about to go snow driving. Just remember, your car gets zero miles per gallon when idling.
3. Keep your RPM’s Low
Keep an eye on your tachometer. I know, you’ve grown to ignore it. But you should try to always keep your RPM’s under 3,000 when accelerating. The lower the better. On a manual transmission vehicle, this is very easy to do…simply shift sooner. On an automatic transmission, you have to use a little finesse. Be light on the throttle and accelerate slowly. This will save you big bucks on fuel.
2. Get your Oil Changes Regularly
I know, this isn’t free either. But again, it something you should be doing regardless of gas economy. The oil in your engine doesn’t only act as a lubricator for all the moving parts, it also acts as a cleaner. A clean engine will get better gas economy and gas mileage. So get your oil changes done on a regular basis according to manufacture specs. Not only is it good for the overall maintenance of the vehicle, but it will help improve your miles per gallon.
1. Slow Down
I hate to be the barer of bad news, but you have to slow down. Not only do you need to accelerate more slowly, but you shouldn’t drive over 55mph if you can help it (yeah, that’s a tough one). While every car is different, usually gas economy worsens after 55mph due to the increase in wind friction. Accelerating more slowly and simply slowing your speed down will dramatically increase your gas economy.
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