Not everyone can afford to buy a more fuel efficient or hybrid vehicle but there are steps you can take to maximize your mileage with your present vehicle and save on gas.
Probably the most effective way to use less gas is to simply not drive as much. It may sound obvious but a lot of us make unnecessary short trips when we don’t really need to. Instead of going to the grocery store every couple of days, consolidate the trips into one and buy for the week.
Consider carpooling. If you carpool to work with one other person, you cut your gas usage by half. If you carpool with 2 other people, you cut it by two thirds but it’s not just for commuting. If you have friends that live nearby, coordinate shopping trips. You’ll get to spend some time with a friend, help each other and save gas too!
Use alternate transportation whenever possible. If your destination is not far away, walk or ride a bike. Don’t use the car to drive a mile to mail a letter or go to the drugstore for that tube of toothpaste you forgot to buy.
Maintain your vehicle. Having the front end in alignment and your tires properly inflated minimizes friction with the road, improving your mileage. Change your oil regularly. Fresh oil reduces friction inside your engine. Change the air filter regularly to help the engine breath better and have the engine tuned according to the maintenance schedule for maximum fuel efficiency of your engine.
Unload that trunk. Every bit of extra weight you haul around makes your engine work harder and uses more gas.
One thing you can do every time you drive is slow down. You can improve your mileage 2-5 mpg simply by changing the way you drive. On the highway, your car is markedly more efficient when you drive under 60 mph. Over 60 mph, your cars mileage goes down exponentially because of many factors including aerodynamic drag and engine efficiency. You will see the biggest savings by keeping it under 60 but any amount you reduce from a higher speed will help.
When on a long trip, using your cruise control will help by keeping your car at a steady speed. Sometimes a driver will “work” the gas pedal subconsciously slowing and accelerating 5 or 10 mph. Cruise control eliminates this inefficiency.
When you are driving in the city and not at highway speeds, be easier on the gas pedal. In other words, don’t be a lead foot. When the light turns green, depress the pedal only about 1/3 the way to the floor, accelerating easy. Accelerating uses a large amount of gas so do it easy and you can save big. Also watch farther ahead. If you see traffic slowing or you see that light way up there that has been green a while, you know it’s going to turn red so back off the gas and coast a little. You won’t have to sit at the light as long and it may even cycle back to green and let you maintain your speed without having to stop and go. With a little practice timing lights, especially on your familiar daily commute, you can get better mileage and maybe have a more relaxing drive.
Turning off the AC can save but really only at low speed city driving. At highway speeds, the savings you get by not running the AC is offset by the increased drag of having the windows open so you may consider it in the city but on the highway, keep the windows up and go ahead and run the AC if you need to.
One last thing that won’t really improve your mileage but can save you money, check out local gas prices at gasbuddy.com. You can find the cheapest gas in your area but don’t drive far out of your way to save a couple cents a gallon, rather find the lowest prices on or nearby your normal routes and buy there.
Try these techniques and see how much you can increase your mileage.