Tips for better gas mileage

Gas prices on baord

There are numerous ways to save green at the pumps. / Image: paulswensen/Flickr/CC BY-ND

The rise in the price of gas may be slowing for the moment, but long gone are the days when fuel cost was a minor consideration in our driving habits. Here are several simple things to consider which may save you some green next time at the gas station.

Drive calmly and sensibly

Angry driving is a bad idea from just about any angle. We tend to accelerate more aggressively and drive more erratically when angry. The smoother you accelerate and decelerate, the better your gas mileage will be. Plus you may just save yourself a traffic accident.

Keep your engine tuned up and maintained properly

Keeping the plugs fresh and timed properly makes a huge difference in your engine’s performance. Keep hoses repaired. Change those filters; a clean air filter will improve mileage by as much as 10 percent, and nearly 25 percent of all cars could use a new one.

Check your tires

If your tires are not fully inflated, they add resistance. Properly inflated tires are also safer and they last longer. And while you are at it, keep the tires properly aligned. Badly aligned tires wear faster and make your engine have to work harder.

Watch your speed

The faster you go, the more gas your car eats. Gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. Following the speed limits will get you there more cheaply, and possibly save you the cost of a speeding ticket as well.

Keep windows closed

Opening windows creates drag and is actually a bigger gas waster than running your air-conditioner.

Reduce weight

The less you are packing around, the more efficiently your car will run. An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle can reduce your MPG by up to 2 percent. So take anything you don’t need out of that trunk. While you are it it, take off luggage racks and other accessories when they are not being used. They add resistance and therefore decrease fuel efficiency.

Turn it off!

If you have to idle for longer than 45 seconds, turn off your engine. And “warming up” your car is unnecessary with most modern cars. If you just start and go, you will save the gas burned up while it idles.

Car pools and public transportation

Look into alternative options. Taking a bus to work will save a lot of money at the pump. And there are many advantages to car pooling. Not only do you split travel expenses, but many cities provide commuter lanes for cars with multiple passengers. It might even get you to work faster!

Planning ahead, combining trips

With a little planning, many trips can be consolidated, saving you a lot of miles as well as time. If you need to get gas, groceries and to pick up the kids today, why not leave a little early, fuel up and get the groceries on the way to the school? Then maybe you can even get the kids to help you unload when you get home. Or maybe that is wishful thinking.


US Dept of Energy

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