Top 8 ways to improve your gas mileage
With gas at an all time high, it is a good time to evaluate what things you can change to get the most mileage out of your car. Since most of us can’t afford a new, more fuel efficient car, we will have to make do with the cars we own. Let’s take a look at eight tips that will help you get the most mileage out of your existing cars.
1. Keep your tires inflated properly
Keeping your tires inflated properly will not only help you save gas but will also help your tires last longer. Under inflated tires wear quickly and cause more friction because it creates a wider contact patch with the road. Many people mistaken the PSI rating on tires to be the optimum pressure for their tires but this is not the case. The rating on the tire is for maximum pressure. If you inflated your tires to this level and hit any bump, they will explode! You can find the optimum tire pressure for your car inside the driver’s door sill on a sticker. Consult a mechanic if you’re not sure how to find out your optimum PSI for your tires. Passenger cars usually need to be filled to 32 PSI. Make sure to invest in high quality tires like Bridgestone Potenza tires, which provide good performance and efficiency. To check if your tires are inflated properly, you’ll need a tire gauge, preferably a 50psi tire gauge to give yourself some headroom. There are digital gauges which are more accurate but are also more expensive. I like to have an analog gauge in my car at all times so I don’t have to worry about the batteries dying and not being able to check my tire pressure.
2. Use your A/C only when you need it
The air conditioning motor is attached to your engine and will create more drag when activated. More drag on the motor means it needs to work harder to maintain speed, using up more fuel. If you don’t need your A/C, turn it off. If you’re driving on local roads, you may want to consider rolling down the windows. Although rolling down the windows does provide you with cooling, it also creates more aerodynamic drag, which hurts fuel consumption at higher speeds. A good rule of thumb to follow is to roll down your windows if you are traveling slower than 45 mph. Once you pass 45 mph, roll up the windows and use the A/C.
3. Pick a more fuel efficient route
If you have a fairly long commute, it may be wise to find a different route to work. Many people are stuck in terrible traffic during the work week, which is horrible for fuel consumption. Stop and go traffic makes driving very inefficient. Try to pick a road that has the least amount of stop signs and traffic lights. Many times you may find that a longer route may make your commute quicker and save you some gas. If you have a portable navigation device, it might have an option to look up routes that favor fuel efficiency over speed and distance. Experiment with different routes to see which one works best. You’ll also want to make sure that you plan trips to multiple places in advance. This way you don’t have to double back or drive further than you need to, wasting more fuel.
4. Use high quality motor oil
Friction is the enemy of fuel efficiency. Make sure that your car has high quality motor oil. Full synthetic oil is usually the best choice. Higher quality motor oil will reduce friction for longer periods of time inside your engine. Make sure to change your oil every couple of thousand miles or whatever is recommended in your car’s manual. Changing oil yourself is easy. You can use a fancy oil extractor that pumps out oil so you don’t have to crawl under your car but it’s not necessary. If you have a ramp for your car to lift it up, you can easily get underneath the car with a bucket or oil pan to catch the used motor oil. Make sure that you replace the oil filter every time you change the oil, otherwise your new oil will be contaminated. Make sure to bottle up the old oil and take it to a place that can recycle it for you. If you don’t want to bother changing the oil yourself, take it to professionals.
5. Get rid of excess weight
If your car is lighter, there is less mass for the engine to propel forward. If you have a habit of storing lots of things in your car, it is a good idea to empty it out. You don’t have to strip out your vehicle like a race car but every bit of weight savings can help. You can also buy lighter wheels for your car to reduce rotating mass. You can be drastic and remove your spare tire but I would advise against it. People who do remove their spare tire replace it with a small can of tire goop that fills in the leak. If you do replace your spare tire with a bottle of tire goo, there are electronic air pumps to help you fill up flat tire. You could use a bicycle pump as well but it’ll just take a while. A bicycle pump is great to top off your tires if they’re looking a bit flat.
6. Check your air filter
If your air filter is clogged, your engine will be starved of precious oxygen, making the engine burn rich, which wastes fuel. Check your air filter and see that there are not big chunks of debris stuck in it or if it looks like dust is penetrating the filter. Air filters are cheap so there’s no reason to risk contaminating your cylinders, which can reduce fuel economy and the life of your motor. The side of the air filter that doesn’t contact outside air should be white. If it’s gray, it’s time to replace the filter.
7. Use cruise control when you can
If you are on a straight road with little to no cars around, switch on the cruise control. Many people have forgotten that this feature even exists on their cars. Cruise control allows the computer in the car to maintain a constant pace, even over slight changes in grade. The computer can do a much better job of keeping a constant pace than our right foot can. Remember that just because cruise control is on doesn’t mean you can space out. Have your feet ready to accelerate or brake to get you out of tricky situations.
8. Let it go
We all get cut off or meet some troll on the highway tailgating you for miles. Just let it go. There’s no use trying to chase down every idiot that wrongs you. You’ll just waste fuel while putting yourself, your passengers, and others on the road in danger. If you see a drunk driver or someone who is driving recklessly, call 911 and report them. Use your phone only if it’s hooked up to your car and via Bluetooth or other hands-free technology.
If you drive aggressively, changing the way you drive will impact your mileage the most. If you find that your car doesn’t reach its claimed mileage, it’s because you’re driving too aggressively! Change your driving style to look further ahead to anticipate red lights, pedestrians, and cars that are slowing down. Use aerodynamic drag to slow you down slowly instead of braking too much and having to speed up again.
Well there you have it. I hope some of these tips will help you get the most mileage out of your car. Be safe out there!