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:
24. 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 car’s brakes.
23. 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 a bad gas economy. So don’t ignore that air filter. A very cheap DIY replacement can save you in the long run.
22. Use Cruise Control
Some people are afraid to use cruise control. If you want to get a better gas economy then get used to using the cruise. Keeping your RPMs 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.
21. Use Properly Inflated Tires
Here is yet another very simple, yet commonly avoided tip for a 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.
20. 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.
19. 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!
18. 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.
17. 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 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.
16. Get your Oil Changes Regularly
I know, this isn’t free either. But again, it is something you should be doing regardless of the 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 manufacturing specs. Not only is it good for the overall maintenance of the vehicle, but it will help improve your miles per gallon.
15. Slow Down
I hate to be the bearer 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 the 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.
14. Use The Proper Fuel Octane
At the pump, you’ll notice there are a few different types of fuel. There’s the cheap stuff, there’s the expensive stuff, and there’s the stuff right in the middle. It’s important that you use whatever is recommended in your vehicle’s manual. The price is associated with how much octane is in the fuel. Some cars are designed to run on low octane, making the gas cheaper, while other cars require high octane which is more expensive. In either case, you will get the best gas mileage when you use whatever the manufacturer recommends.
13. Keep Your Car As Light As Possible
Most people don’t use their cars for long-term storage, but many people use their vehicles for work or other activities that require hauling cargo around. If you’re in a similar situation, unload that cargo as soon as you can. Having a bunch of heavy stuff in your vehicle will lower your gas mileage, so keeping your car as light as possible will help you get a few extra MPG’s during your day-to-day driving.
12. Reduce Wind Resistance & Drag-On Your Car
Every car has what is called “drag” or wind resistance. Modern cars are built to create as little drag as possible, but there may be some things you can do to reduce drag even further. If your car is equipped with roof racks, for example, you should remove those unless you intend to actually use them. Bike racks, roof storage containers, side mirror extenders, and even antennas all increase drag, which in turn costs you money through reduced gas mileage.
11. Use Apps To Find The Best Gas Price
Many apps now exist to help you find the best gas price. You can even plan out where to get gas on long cross-country trips to save you quite a few bucks. One of my favorite services is GasBuddy. Prices from city to city, and sometimes even within a city, can be quite a bit different. You can also save on gas by going to partnering restaurants or stores that give you steep gas discounts.
10. Don’t Get Gas If The Fuel Truck Is There
Let’s say you are about to pull into a gas station, and you see the fuel truck there restocking the inventory for the gas station. What would you think? Most people think, “great! Fresh gas!” This is incorrect! When a tanker truck is putting gas into the underground storage tanks of a gas station, it kicks up debris from the bottom of the tanks, which can then find its way into your vehicle’s engine. This is never good for gas mileage. Be sure to only fill up when the fuel truck is NOT there.
9. Get Gas In The Morning Instead Of In The Afternoon
Did you know that you can save money by getting gas in the morning instead of in the afternoon? It isn’t because gas stations raise their prices in the afternoon, it actually has to do with how gas is stored. At most gas stations, the gas is stored underground. In the mornings, the storage tanks are at their coldest. This causes the gas to be denser than the warmer afternoon when the gas expands. The way gas is priced as it leaves the pump causes you to actually save a little bit by filling up in the morning.
8. Clean Your Vehicle’s Fuel Injectors
Cleaning your car’s fuel injectors can help you increase MPG’s. This is usually only necessary on older vehicles, but if fuel injectors are not allowing fuel to flow into the engine properly, you will have an incorrect air to fuel ratio and thus harm your vehicle’s gas mileage. You don’t need to be a mechanic to clean your vehicle’s fuel injectors, either. Check out the video below for some good tips and tricks.
7. Use Proper Trip Planning
If you are going to be taking a long trip, make sure you plan out the most fuel-efficient route. Most people these days just put the address into their GPS unit and follow the directions. Instead, optimize your trip. For example, your GPS will usually give you the fastest route, but not necessarily the most gas-friendly route. Stay on highways as much as possible and go through towns or areas that have the cheapest gas. Even if your trip is a little longer time and mileage-wise, it may be worth it for the gas savings.
6. Use The Right Tires
All car tires have what is called “rolling resistance”. The higher the resistance, the worse gas mileage you’ll get. Tires play a significant role in your gas mileage. If a tire is built for performance or snow, it might not necessarily be good at getting you good gas mileage (in fact those types of tires almost certainly won’t). When it comes time to buy new tires, get tires that will save you the most money on gas.
5. Reprogram Your Vehicle’s Computer Or Brain
All modern cars have what is called a “brain”. This is quite simply a computer system that controls various features of your car. For example, the brain may tell your vehicle’s automatic transmission when the proper time to shift is, based on how you’re driving. There are many aftermarket services that can reprogram your vehicle’s computer system to help you achieve a higher gas mileage. Reprogramming your car’s computer can void your manufacturer’s warranty, so make sure you check with a dealer or only reprogram a car that is out of warranty.
4. Avoid stop-and-go Traffic Congestion
The best way to achieve optimal gas mileage is to remain at a constant speed. When driving in congested traffic such as during rush hour, your gas mileage will take a serious hit. You can avoid traffic congestion in a few different ways. You can choose the time of day you drive, choose the route you wish to drive, and also utilize technology such as various driving apps. My favorite app for avoiding heavy traffic is Waze, which will route to my location based on traffic congestion.
3. Switch To Synthetic Motor Oil
Synthetic motor oil is more expensive than traditional motor oil, but it also doesn’t need to be changed as often. Another added benefit is a higher gas mileage. In most vehicles, synthetic motor oil will give you a little bit of an MPG boost. This is a very easy change to make, but it is not good for your car to switch back and forth between oil types, so if you switch to synthetic, stick with it.
2. Use Fuel Additives
There are some fuel additives out there that claim to increase your car’s gas mileage by cleaning your engine, the gas lines, gas tank, fuel injectors, and other aspects of your car. Keeping your engine clean on the inside will help it function at the highest possible potential. An engine running optimally will give you better gas mileage. You shouldn’t use additives too often, but once in a while can really boost your gas mileage.
1. Check Your Gas Cap Seal
Over time, a gas cap can take some damage from being dropped, due to temperature changes, or simply by being screwed in and out. If this seal develops cracks, gets warped, or otherwise doesn’t form a good seal anymore, your gas mileage will be reduced. Not having a good seal allows air to enter into your tank, then into your engine, which causes you to burn more gas. A new gas cap is very simple to replace and usually costs under $50.
The Importance of Saving Gas
So there you have it – our top 24 tips to get better gas mileage.
Before we end this article, let’s put more emphasis on the importance of fuel economy.
Yes, your primary reason is, of course, to save money. We can’t ignore our expenses allocated to gas prices. If it accumulates, your fuel costs each year can really take a big chunk of your annual expenses. So making sure to save up on it can indeed increase your savings.
Another reason that you may actively act upon or not, is that it reduces Climate Change. As we all know, carbon dioxide (CO2) from burning gasoline and diesel contributes a lot to global climate change. By simply saving up on your gas, you’re already contributing a great deal to reducing the earth’s carbon footprint!
We are all aware that oil is a non-renewable resource. This means that we cannot sustain our current rate of fuel usage indefinitely. So if we use it wisely now, it will give us more time to find alternative technologies (or find another alternative source for fuels) that will be more sustainable.
We can’t deny that our dependence on oil makes us vulnerable to oil market manipulation and price shocks. Reducing our oil dependence costs will definitely make us less vulnerable. It’s not just our dependence on the oil market actually, but our dependence on everything that works through fuel, most especially our modes of transportation.
Just imagine how things will change, if we can no longer access these fuels to sustain our daily needs? So what are you waiting for? It’s time to act and save up on gas as soon as possible!