How to Improve the Fuel Economy of Your Car

If you drive frequently, the cost of gas is probably eating a large chunk out of your budget. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce this cost without cutting back on driving. There are many smart practices that can help increase your gas mileage. Consider implementing a few of the following.

Go the Speed Limit

Going the speed limit may feel like a drag, but it can save you a lot of money. Above certain speeds your car’s engine starts losing efficiency. The higher piston speeds and pressures inside the engine cylinder lead to a dramatic increase in the friction of the moving components. This friction is wasted energy that causes your car to work harder. You may get to your destination faster, but it’s going to cost you a lot more to do it that way.

Remove Heavy Items

If you’re like most people, your trunk and backseat are full of miscellaneous items. You might not realize it, but this is costing you some serious dough. The amount of gas that your car uses is directly related to the weight of the car. Even just a hundred pounds can make a significant difference. Clear out any unnecessary items. However, don’t remove essential items like your car jack or spare tire. You don’t want to get caught out on the road in an emergency without them.

Keep Your Tires Inflated

Most people drive their cars without even thinking about the tire pressure. But if you let the pressure get low, you’re going to start using a lot more gas. You should be checking your tire pressure frequently because the tires will lose pressure over time. When a tire is underinflated, it becomes squishy. This makes it more difficult for the tire to roll. This increased rolling resistance puts a higher load on the engine which causes it to use up more fuel. You will also find that underinflated tires make your car handle in a sluggish manner. This can end up being extremely dangerous for you at high speeds like what you might encounter on the freeway.

Tint Your Windows

It takes energy to run your car’s AC and that energy comes from your engine. Depending on the conditions outside and the speed that you are driving, you can actually use up more gas on AC than on actually driving. Since you have so many windows in a car, it’s pretty easy for light to get in and heat your car up. You can block 98% of solar heat by adding tint to your car windows. You’ll also enjoy the feeling of increased privacy that tinted windows can bring. However, keep in mind that most states have laws about how darkly you can tint your windows. Don’t over tint them unless you enjoy getting pulled over and handed a citation.

Don’t Blast Your Music

Just like your AC, your music requires energy and that energy has to come from the engine. Blasting music can greatly increase this energy demand and drive up your gas consumption. Keep your music turned down to a more moderate level. Not only will this save you on gas, but you will also be protecting your ears from hearing loss. You’ll also be a better driver. Even if you think you are the greatest driver in the world, loud music makes it difficult for you to hear what is going on around you and it’s distracting. This could easily lead you into a sticky situation. Finally, not blasting your music is a courtesy to those around you.

Cruise to a Stop

Burning gas creates heat energy which an engine uses to produce mechanical energy or movement. When you have to stop, that mechanical energy is again turned into heat energy through the use of your brakes. The more energy that you put into your brakes, the more fuel you are wasting. Pay attention to where you are going and anticipate areas where you will need to slow down and stop. For example, if the light ahead is red take your foot off the brake early and allow yourself to coast to a stop. Speeding forward and then braking hard is bad for your gas mileage and for your car.

Accelerate Slowly

Quick acceleration may feel cool, but it’s not good for your gas mileage. Quick acceleration demands that your engine start using the gas in a very inefficient manner. So, if you aren’t on the racetrack, you will be much better off if you accelerate at a moderate rate. Quick acceleration can increase the probability that you are going to get into a crash. Another drawback to accelerating quickly is that your car wears out faster and you’ll incur higher maintenance costs. All around it’s a much better idea if you keep your ego in check and drive in a safe and defensive manner.

Avoid Idling

Idling is probably the number one culprit in your poor gas mileage. Many people don’t think that it’s that big of a deal since the engine doesn’t use as much fuel when it is idling but think about it. You are using fuel and not going anywhere. That’s 0 mpg! And despite what you might think, you are using a fair amount of fuel. If you are waiting for someone, shut off the engine. If you are in serious stop and go traffic, turn off your engine while you wait for people to inch forward. It doesn’t take very long to start a car, and you’re going to save yourself quite a bit by doing it.

Hopefully, money is enough of an incentive to encourage us all to use more fuel-efficient driving practices. If it isn’t there is a more important reason. Poor fuel economy leads to high amounts of pollution. Even if you don’t believe in global warming, there is no debating that the NOx, CO, HO, and particulate emissions from motor vehicles are bad for your health and the environment. Do your part for the world and drive in a smart and safe fashion.

Read this next for more tips: 4 Ways to Improve Gas Mileage


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