9 Tips to Get the Best Gas Mileage
Whether gas prices are up or down and whether you’re cruising down the highway or meandering over quaint country roads, one thing always holds true. Every driver wants to get the most out of a tank of gas. Purchasing a fuel-efficient vehicle is one of the best ways to manage gas mileage, but there are actually ways to get better mileage with any vehicle you have. Here we share some tips and suggestions that you can put into practice to help save money at the gas pump.
Before putting the key in
Did you know that getting good mileage out of your vehicle starts even before you get behind the wheel? Follow these maintenance tips for better fuel economy.
You can save money by getting the proper maintenance done on your vehicle. Get your car tuned up and change the air filter when necessary to improve engine performance. Also, make sure that you choose the right grade of motor oil, both for your vehicle and the current weather conditions.
Clean it out
Have you been hauling around your friend’s suitcase until you see her again, or did you forget to take your golf clubs out of the truck last week? All of that unnecessary weight uses up more fuel. Get rid of any unnecessary items and lighten the load.
When driving, tires create friction on the road, which creates resistance. When you lower that resistance your vehicle will use less fuel. The key to reducing resistance is keeping the tires at the right pressure. Check the pressure regularly, and when your tires get low pump them up. In hot weather, remember to check the pressure when the tires are cool, such as when starting out on a trip rather than arriving from one. In cold weather, friction is created when those chilly temperatures decrease tire pressure. So hot or cold, keep an eye on tire pressure.
While on the road
When you actually get behind the wheel, keep these tips in mind to reduce the use of gasoline.
Keep idling to a minimum. While it’s true that your engine uses a bit more gasoline when starting, you shouldn’t let your vehicle idle for more than a minute. If you have to wait, it may be better to turn the vehicle off and restart it when you’re ready to start driving.
Driving at the speed limit can actually help you to save on fuel economy. Most vehicles reach optimum fuel economy at around 35 mph and quickly decrease as the speed increases. Keeping your calm can also help with fuel efficiency. Quickly speeding up and braking, perhaps to vent your frustration in traffic, simply uses up more gasoline.
Wait to tank up
Put off your visit to the gas pumps until you’re at a quarter tank. That way you carry less fuel around, reducing the weight in your vehicle. You will also have more time to check around for the best fuel prices.
Consider the cold
Gas mileage can drop by as much as 22% in cold weather. That’s certainly a statistic to pay attention to. Why the decrease in fuel efficiency? It has to do with friction. Cold weather increases friction in the engine. Optimum fuel efficiency is reached at a certain temperature, and your winter-afflicted engine takes longer to get up to that point. In the meantime, that cold engine and other fluids are creating friction that uses more gasoline. What can you do about that? Keep your car warm when leaving it for long periods so that the engine will heat up faster. Consider parking your vehicle in a garage overnight.
Also, using the heater burns up more gasoline. Whatever you want to heat – whether you’re trying to defrost the windshield to see the world around you, or you’re heating your seat to get it to a more comfortable temperature, you’re using up precious fuel. What’s the solution? Use only the heating features that you truly need.
Roll ‘em down
One thing is true in cold or hot weather; attempting to change the temperature inside the vehicle uses up a lot of energy. When the temperatures outside rise, using your vehicle’s air conditioning can reduce fuel efficiency by over 25%. So think twice about turning on the air conditioning and roll down the windows when possible. The exception to that rule is when you're traveling on the highway. When traveling at higher speeds your goal should be to reduce wind resistance, so keep the windows up and use the air-conditioning.
One final tip to save on fuel: drive smart. Before getting into your vehicle, ask yourself if you truly need to use it. Could you leave your vehicle behind and try biking, taking public transportation, or working out a carpool arrangement? Or you could leave all vehicles behind and practice the old-fashioned art of walking.