Get better fuel mileage with these 5 fuel economy tips
Save yourself from pain at the pump with these tips. (Photo by Brandon Smith)
1. Check your tires
Underinflated tires waste nearly 200,000 gallons of gas per day in the United States alone. To locate the correct inflation for your vehicle don’t look on the sidewall of the tire – it could fit dozens of very different vehicles – but on the placard usually located on the rear pillar of the driver’s door.
Other places you might find this information include the owner’s manual, the glove box door, the fuel filler door or the center console. It’s always a good idea to check your tire pressure before driving two or more miles, or at least every month.
2. Remove excess weight
Get that junk out of your trunk! Extra weight from unneeded items makes your vehicle’s engine work harder and use more gas.
3. Plan ahead
Plan your driving ahead of time and consolidate multiple trips. Sketch a rough map of your path: in most instances, taking a spiral pathway is much more efficient than one that looks like daisy petals.
4. Avoid idling
Even during the colder months of winter, idling to warm your car up is very wasteful. Cars warm up more quickly and efficiently when they’re driven. If it’s really cold – say single digits or lower – you can begin driving even after just 15 seconds after startup.
And don’t use the drive-thru window! Any time your car is idling, it earns zero miles per gallon.
5. Leave early and drive more slowly
One of my employees drives 65 miles each way on his commute. He regularly gets more than 47 miles per gallon in his 1997 Corolla. The secret? Drive at an even 55 mph and avoid jack-rabbit accelerations.
If your trip is 20 miles or less, you will almost always meet the folks who passed you on the highway at the foot of the exit ramp. Driving at 55 mph really costs no time at all.
Other tips to help improve gas mileage:
- Don’t ignore the check engine light, It may be trying to tell you something important that could save you money on gas.
- Washing and waxing your vehicle can make a surprising difference towards improved fuel economy because a clean car slips through the air more easily. Also, broken, cracked or missing underbody panels can seriously cut fuel economy.
A couple of fuel economy surprises:
- Your car’s air filter is probably fine. Unless the air filter is more than 30,000 miles old, it’s unlikely to be dirty enough to make any measurable difference in fuel economy.
- Roll up the windows and turn the A/C on. At speeds of 25 mph or more, aerodynamic losses due to open windows are typically greater than mileage that may be lost due to using the A/C.
Finally, your professional auto service technician can check your vehicle for a number of causes that may lead to poor fuel economy.
Bell owns The Lusty Wrench in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. He was named the Delmar/Cengage Learning ASE Technician of the Year, and is a contributing editor for MOTOR Magazine.
As of June 6, 2012, this service provider was highly rated on Angie’s List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check AngiesList.com for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie’s List.