by Tip Hero David Glenn
Gas prices are unpredictable and nobody likes emptying out their wallet just to fill their tank. Luckily, there are some easy steps every driver can take to improve their gas mileage. Follow these driving tips and tricks for better fuel economy, and soon you’ll notice that your trips to the gas station are becoming much less frequent.
1. Care for your car
Be sure to perform regular maintenance on your vehicle for improved gas mileage. Keep your tires properly inflated and you’ll save up to 3 percent fuel economy. Learn what grade of motor oil the manufacturer recommends for your vehicle and use the same. Keep your engine properly tuned to improve gas mileage by an average of 4 percent. Regular engine checks will also alert you to larger problems such as faulty oxygen sensors, which can reduce your gas mileage by as much as 40 percent.
2. Avoid the aggression
Aggressive driving is not only bad for your fellow drivers, it’s bad for your gas mileage too. You waste gas when you speed, rapidly accelerate, or slam on the brakes. These actions can lower gas mileage by as much as 33 percent on the highways and 5 percent around town. Driving over the speed limit can also have ill effects, as most vehicles experience decreases in gas mileage at speeds above 50 miles per hour. Getting educated about safe driving at a traffic course can go far towards correcting your bad habits.
3. Lighten your Load
Carrying excess cargo can seriously impact your gas mileage. Roof-top cargo boxes increase wind resistance and lower fuel economy. Extra weight in a vehicle’s trunk also reduces your MPG significantly, especially in smaller cars, so don’t keep unnecessary items in your vehicle.
4. Control for the cold
Cold winter weather can have an adverse effect on your gas mileage. When temperatures drop, it takes longer for your engine to warm up to its most fuel-efficient temperature. Driving in frigid temperatures can also increase the aerodynamic drag of your car or truck, since colder air is denser. Our winter driving habits also have an effect on fuel usage. Warming up your car for a prolonged time before heading out the door burns gas, as does utilizing four-wheel drive. Further, the slower driving speeds that are necessary to safely navigate slippery roads also reduce your vehicle’s fuel economy.
There are some steps you can take to diminish the effect that cold weather has on your fuel economy. Park your car in a garage to keep the engine’s resting temperature up, only warm your car up for 30 seconds before a trip, and try to combine trips rather than take multiple trips with a cold engine. To reduce the aerodynamic drag of cold air, remove unnecessary cargo racks from your vehicle.
5. Handle the heat
Extreme heat can also have an adverse effect on your gas mileage, simply because of the driving habits that people utilize to stay comfortable in the warm weather. For instance, under certain conditions, a car’s air conditioner can significantly reduce fuel economy; up to 25 percent. Similarly, if you open your windows to cool down, you increase the aerodynamic drag of your vehicle, especially at highway speeds.
To mitigate the effects of these habits, try parking in the shade whenever possible to reduce the temperature inside the car. Roll down the windows when driving at lower speeds and, alternately, use the air conditioner when driving at highway speeds. Always open the windows briefly before turning on the air conditioning to let the hot air escape the cabin naturally.