With gasoline prices skyrocketing and changing by the day, many people are considering switching to an electric or hybrid vehicle. However, this is not an option for many, so using less gas and increasing fuel economy is your next best bet.
Everyone is trying to save money on gas these days. And while the price of gas is out of our control, a few small changes can go a long way in limiting the dent in your wallet. So check out some of our valuable fuel-efficient driving tips below and learn how to use less gas.
Don’t have a heavy foot
It might sound cliche, and you’ve probably heard it before, but I see people driving aggressively no matter where I go. Do not step on the metal pedal. It’s a tough habit to break, but these days you might want to give it a try and give both your foot and your wallet a break.
Aggressive driving habits include revving the engine at green lights, speeding to corner, and “getting up to speed” as quickly as possible. All of this activity wastes gas, adds up over time and will result in you filling the tank sooner than necessary. Aggressive driving habits can use between 20% and 33% more gas, according to the Department of Energy.
I don’t know about you, but I always catch up with someone next to me who had a heavy foot at the next red light. It rarely gets you anywhere faster, uses more gas, and isn’t as safe. Rapid acceleration is rarely required, so tact that throttles a bit. The same rule applies to those with an electric vehicle. You can get more range by being a sensible driver.
Do your maintenance
The first thing any mechanic will ask when complaining about poor gas mileage is whether you kept up with your maintenance. Change the oil when you want your car to run like a well-oiled machine. And while this is a task almost everyone is familiar with, there are several different simple maintenance jobs that you can do yourself or do for a small fee that will make a significant impact.
Be sure to change engine oil and filters at intervals recommended in the owner’s manual or when the computer and dashboard dictate. A dirty engine air filter can increase fuel economy by up to 10% on older cars, so you should too. Here are some general maintenance tasks to consider:
- Change your oil and oil filter
- Replace engine air filter
- Replace the cabin air filters (yes, this can improve gas mileage)
- Stay current on brake maintenance
- Replace the spark plugs at the recommended time
- and more
The most common causes of a Check Engine Light (CEL) are a problem with the EVAP system or an O2/fuel sensor malfunction. The EPA estimates that a poor or dirty O2 sensor can affect fuel and air conditions and reduce gas efficiency by 20-40%. That’s a huge difference and will result in you making far more trips to the gas station than you should.
There’s a reason manufacturers include maintenance recommendations in the manual, and it’s not just about keeping the vehicle running longer. Check for trouble codes and stay connected to your vehicle with an OBD2 scanner.
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Check tire pressure
Speaking of maintenance, when was the last time you checked your tire pressure? Unfortunately for many this is only the case when they realize that a tire is too low. In fact, tire pressure can affect fuel consumption.
If your tires are under-inflated, fuel consumption can increase by 5-7%. And while that’s not a huge amount, every little bit counts. Also, under-inflated tires cause uneven wear and cost you more money in the long run.
Tire pressure can increase while driving due to heat, not to mention during the hot summer. Proper tire pressure gives your tires the right amount of traction for ideal fuel economy. Check your owner’s manual, the sticker in your door, or the tire wall for the correct PSI for your tires.
In addition, you should ensure that you change your tires occasionally and that your tire alignment is correct for the best driving experience.
Maintain a consistent speed (and distance from others)
If you’ve ever wondered why mileage differs between highway and city driving, it’s because cars are more efficient at certain speeds. Additionally, maintaining a steady speed without constantly tapping the gas or braking leads to better fuel efficiency.
Most vehicles have an ideal fuel economy of around 50 MPH, and if the laws in your area allow it, staying casually within that range can help drivers use less gas.
The same Department of Energy study linked above suggests maintaining a constant distance from other drivers, especially while driving around town. Rapid acceleration, hard braking or aggressive city driving can in some cases reduce your gas mileage by up to 40%. Of course, every situation is different, but if you maintain a constant speed and a safe distance from others, you can taxi slowly to traffic lights or accelerate gently. This can and will improve your gas mileage.
Limit idling and trips
Another thing that many drivers don’t think about is letting the engine idle, which uses more gas than restarting the car when you’re ready to go. Idling for 15-20 minutes can use almost a 1/2 gallon of gas. Many modern vehicles have a stop-start system that automatically shuts off the engine if it comes to a standstill, even in traffic, while saving fuel and reducing pollution.
So the next time you’re sitting in the store waiting for a friend or family member to drop by or get to work early and want to waste time scrolling through social media, instead of wasting gas while you’re driving, turn off the car sitting idle.
The next should go without saying, but just as you want to limit aggressive driving, unnecessary idling, or stop-and-go traffic, you should limit your trips too. Try to do all your stops at once instead of constantly driving back and forth around town.
Reduce weight and drag
Aerodynamics play an important role in vehicles. The less drag you have, the less the engine has to work to get up to speed and maintain that speed, which saves gas.
Weight is another factor to consider. If you are going on a trip or vacation you will have more weight in the car, but you can always do it if you can cut down on unnecessary things like a luggage rack, junk in the trunk or extra weight. All of these things can contribute to poor fuel economy.
Just go to the air conditioner or heater
Hotter summer temperatures help your engine warm up faster, which improves fuel economy. However, you lose all of those winnings as soon as you turn up the air conditioning. In fact, using the air conditioning puts a strain on the engine and uses more fuel than any other auxiliary function.
The EPA estimates that running the air conditioner while driving can use up to 25% more fuel, especially on everyday short trips around town. Yes, 25%, that’s a lot. These numbers get worse if you have a dirty or clogged cabin air filter, so like we said, replace it often.
Rolling down the car’s windows can increase drag, which reduces gas mileage, but at slow speeds it keeps you cool and avoids wasting gas on air conditioning.
The best thing to do on hot summer days is roll down the windows when you first drive off. Get all the hot air out, cool down with natural airflow and wind, then use the air conditioning when you start picking up speed. This way your car doesn’t have to work as hard to reach an ideal temperature and you limit how long you let it crank at full speed. Use the heater as little as possible in winter as this has a similar impact on fuel economy.
Each fuel saving tip alone can increase your car’s mileage and help you use less gas. But then, if you practice sensible driving habits, stick to maintenance, and combine them all, you will absolutely notice a difference at the pump.
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