With the cost of gas always on the rise, learning to squeeze extra miles out of every gallon is a matter of necessity – much like having the right auto insurance coverage.
Here are some recommendations from the U.S. Department of Energy for getting better fuel economy; they may seem obvious, but they really can make a difference.
Change how you drive
Aggressive driving (speeding, jack rabbit starts and hard braking) wastes gas. At highway speeds, it can drop your gas mileage by 33% (and by 5% around town).
- Driving 60 miles per hour instead of 70 mph will save you 2-4 miles per gallon over the duration of your trip
- Save your brakes by coasting to a stop as much as possible
- Fuel economy savings/fuel cost savings: 5-33% = $0.17–$1.11/gallon
Observe the speed limit
While each vehicle achieves its peak fuel economy at a different speed (or range of speeds), gas mileage usually drops rapidly above 50 mph.
- Every 5 mph increase over 50 mph is like paying an additional $0.23 per gallon for gas.3
- Fuel economy savings: 7%–14% (Average savings, assuming 5 to 10 mph decrease in speed and fuel costs $3.35 per gallon)
- Fuel cost savings: $0.23–$0.47/gallon
Avoid hauling cargo on your roof
Hauling cargo on your roof increases wind resistance and decreases fuel economy. A large, roof-top cargo box can decrease fuel economy by
- 2% to 8% in the city (vs. rear-mount cargo boxes; 1-2%)
- 6% to 17% on the highway (vs. rear-mount cargo boxes; 1-5%)
- 10% to 25% at interstate speeds (65 mph to 75 mph).4
- Fuel economy savings: 2%–17%
- Fuel cost savings: $0.07–$0.57/gallon
Remove excess weight
Don’t store unnecessary items in your vehicle, especially heavy ones.
- An extra 100 pounds in your car could reduce your MPG by up to 2%.
- Fuel economy savings: 1%–2%/100 lbs
- Fuel cost savings: $0.03–$0.07/gallon
Avoid excessive idling
Don’t warm up your vehicle for more than 30 seconds.
- Idling can use a quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour, depending on engine size and air conditioner use.
- Fuel economy savings: 1%–2%/100 lbs.
- Fuel cost savings: $0.01–$0.02/min. (AC off), $0.02–$0.03/min. (AC on)
Use cruise control
Using cruise control on the highway helps you maintain a constant speed and, generally, will save gas.
Maintain your vehicle
- Check your tire pressure. Making sure your vehicle’s tires are set to the recommended pressure can increase fuel economy by up to 3.3 percent.
- Next time you change your oil, have the air filter checked as well. Replacing a dirty air filter with a clean one can save up to 10 percent on fuel costs.
- Fill your tank on cool mornings. Fuel is denser in colder weather. Gas pumps measure by volume, so if you pump when it’s cold, you get more gas for your money.
Ideally, slower speeds will save more than gas – they may save lives as well, as the incidence of accidents drop with slower speeds. This may also affect lowering car insurance rates in the long term.
*Cost savings are based on an assumed fuel price of $3.35/gallon