Improving fuel economy is good for your wallet and the environment. And no, you don’t need to install any fancy devices into your engine to do it. However, you do have a lot of other options.
In the following guide, we explain some very easy and inexpensive ways to improve your gas mileage. These tips will also take very little of your time. In fact, you can put each of these tips into practice in a single day.
So, what are you waiting for? Read through this list and start these mileage-improving habits today.
1. Reduce Excess Weight
One of the biggest causes of poor gas mileage is excess weight. Here’s how this works.
The engine works hard to push your big, heavy vehicle (and everything in it) wherever you need it to go. To do this, your engine burns gas for energy.
The heavier the load in your vehicle is, the harder it is to push, and the harder your engine has to work to push it. And that means it has to burn more gas.
How to Do It
Fortunately, now that you’re conscious of this phenomenon, it’s really easy to solve it. First, aside from automotive tools like jacks and tire irons, remove any “just in case” items from your vehicle.
For example, maybe you go biking a lot so you keep a bike, helmet, etc. in the back of your SUV. But unless you’re biking today, leave the bike in the garage. Otherwise, whenever you drive, you’ll burn more gas for no reason.
Alternatively, if you never bike, you can take the bike rack off the roof of your car. There’s no point having it weigh down your car if you don’t even use it.
Next, clean out your car. That trash might way more than you think, especially old, half-full water bottles. Besides, every little bit helps.
Lastly, don’t fill your gas tank all the way unless you’re driving very far away. Like the water in the water bottles, gas is heavy.
Of course, if the nearest gas station is 20 minutes away from your home, it’s best to fill up when you can. Otherwise, you waste gas taking extra trips.
2. Keep Tires Inflated
Have you ever tried to ride a bike with a flat tire? If so, then you know that low tire pressure also makes a vehicle hard to push. Avoid making your engine work harder than it needs to by keeping tires properly inflated.
How to Do It
Modern cars have an electronic system in place to alert you when tire pressure is low. If you see one of these notifications on your dashboard, fix your tire pressure right away. Fuel economy aside, low tire pressure also increases your chance of tire damage/expensive tire repair or replacement.
The proper tire pressure for your tires should be listed on the sidewall of the tire. If not, check the label inside the front, driver-side doorway, or your user manual, or the internet.
Next, get a tire pressure gauge for a dollar at your local discount store. Then, head to a gas station that has a tire inflation station.
Remove the valve stem cap on each tire and check the air pressure with the gauge. Once the low tire or tires are located, insert the air hose and inflate. Every minute or so, check the pressure with the air gauge until it’s correct.
3. Keep Up on Maintenance
Tires aren’t the only things that need to be maintained to improve fuel economy. Your mileage is affected by every part of your vehicle. The more efficiently the whole machine is working, the easier it is on your engine.
How to Do It
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Stay on top of regular maintenance according to your user manual.
That said, air filter and spark plug maintenance are especially important for good fuel economy. You can also do these yourself.
4. Accelerate and Stop Slowly
Careful driving is your next step in conserving gas. Remember the illustration about the engine pushing the car? It’s the same situation here.
Imagine you have a shopping cart full of bricks. When the cart is at a complete stop, it’s very hard to push to get it started. Now, if you were racing against an opponent, trying to get your cart up to a fast speed very quickly, that would be really difficult.
It’s the same with your car. When the light turns green and you floor the accelerator like you’re in the Indy 500, it burns a huge amount of gas.
Only, you’re (presumably) not in the Indy 500. So all that wasted gas really gets you is a couple of seconds off your drive time this trip.
How to Do It
This one’s also self-explanatory. It’s better to accelerate slowly to conserve gas.
Likewise, stopping fast also wastes gas. If you have to slam on the brakes every time there’s a stop sign, it means you’re speeding up when you should be slowing down. Instead of wasting gas (and your brakes), take your foot off the gas sooner.
5. Use Less Air Conditioning
Next, your air conditioner uses massive amounts of gas. There are ways of reducing air conditioner use without getting heatstroke.
How to Do It
First, crack your windows in your parked car on hot days. Also, get a sunshade and use it. This way, you shouldn’t have to blast your air conditioner for 10 minutes before you can even enter your car.
Better yet, tinting your windows greatly reduces the amount of heat that comes into your car on hot days. But beware: cheap, DIY window films are subject to color-change, bubbling, and other ugly side-effects. It’s best to leave it to professionals, like this window tinting service.
6. Keep Windows Closed
After that last tip, you may be tempted to forgo the AC and just leave the windows open. But this will only increase drag, that is, air resistance that slows your car down and causes your engine to work harder. As such, leaving the windows down at speeds over 40 mph burns more gas than using the AC.
7. Plan Your Outings
Lastly, unnecessary trips might easily be your biggest fuel-waster. Try to plan better so that you don’t drive more than you need to.
How to Do It
Write a shopping list before you leave so you get everything you need in one trip. Also, use your map app to find the most fuel-efficient route for unfamiliar trips.
Start Improving Fuel Economy
You see? It’s easy to conserve gas, pollute less, and save money. Just be sure you print or bookmark this list and follow these tips for improving fuel economy.
Lastly, don’t keep this money-saving advice to yourself. If this guide helped you, please share it on social media so it can help others, too.