Follow these simple steps to get better gas mileage.
Consumers concerned about gas prices can save money by taking steps to get better gas mileage. Some of these steps are simple, such as slowing down and inflating tires, and can save a lot of money in the long run.
Buying a fuel-efficient car is the quickest way to save money by getting better gas mileage. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the difference between a car that gets 20 miles per gallon and one that gets 30 miles per gallon amounts to $3,125 over 5 years if gas costs $2.50 per gallon and the car is driven 15,000 miles a year. The FTC warns consumers to steer clear of gas-saving devices that they can purchase and attach to their car. The commission has tested many of these devices and found that they do not result in significant savings.
If buying a different car is not an option, following these steps will result in better gas mileage:
Consumers who want better gas mileage should take care not to drive aggressively. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, driving aggressively not only imperils others but also costs drivers money. Braking often, accelerating continuously and speeding all decrease gas mileage. The FTC suggests avoiding "jackrabbit starts," in which drivers accelerate quickly. Accelerating uses so much gas, in fact, that half of all energy used by a car driven in the city is used for acceleration. Aggressive driving can cost consumers 33 percent of their gas mileage, according to the State of Connecticut. The U.S. Department of Energy maintains that driving less aggressively can save consumers as much as $550 per year.
Gas mileage worsens dramatically at speeds over 60 miles per hour, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, and every 5 miles per hour above that point costs almost 25 more cents in gas per gallon. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains that driving at 55 miles per hour rather than 65 miles per hour increases gas mileage by 15 percent.
Transporting unnecessary items in a car reduces gas mileage. Every additional 100 pounds in a vehicle decreases gas mileage by 2 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. To get better gas mileage, drivers should lighten the load. Using roof racks to haul items makes the situation worse, however. The FTC says a roof rack creates wind resistance against the car, which can reduce gas mileage as much as 5 percent.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, when consumers idle their vehicles, they use gas without using miles, and this is especially true in a car with a large engine. When stuck in traffic, turn off the car engine. Avoiding rush-hour traffic is an easy way to get better gas mileage. Also avoid letting a car idle in winter to warm its engine. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends shutting off the engine after only 10 seconds of idling. The Wisconsin Division of Natural Resources says idling can use half a gallon of gas per hour.
Not using the car's air conditioning will result in better gas mileage, according to the EPA. However, turning down the air conditioning might be a better suggestion because, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, driving with the windows rolled down sometimes decreases gas mileage because of the drag it creates on the car.
Use cruise control to get better gas mileage. The Department of Energy estimates that using cruise control improves gas mileage by 14 percent. However, motorists should disengage cruise control in hilly areas because it will reduce gas mileage in such places.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, cars can lose 4% of their gas mileage if they are not properly maintained?and old air filters alone can lose as much as 10 percent. A well-maintained car, on the other hand, gets better gas mileage. Properly inflating tires can improve gas mileage by 3.3 percent and using the manufacturer's recommended oil grade improves gas mileage by 2 percent. The FTC contends that making sure a car is tuned can save as much as 4 percent in gas mileage.
Tires should not only be inflated and aligned, but should also be the right kind. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, consumers can get better gas mileage if their car is equipped with low-rolling resistance tires. These tires increase gas mileage by reducing wasted heat energy when the tires roll. Hybrid vehicles are commonly equipped with low-rolling resistance tires.
Consumers can get better gas mileage if they consolidate errands instead of making several trips at different times. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, going on one trip from a "cold start" and making several stops results in better gas mileage than making several trips from a cold start.
While it might sound ridiculous, consumers can get better gas mileage by tightening the gas cap on their automobiles. According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, those who don't may lose up to 30 gallons of gas per year.
Believe it or not, washing a car can improve its aerodynamics, which increases its gas mileage, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Consumers who want better gas mileage should keep the outside of their cars as clean as possible.