It doesn't matter if your vehicle is a frugal hybrid or a gas-guzzling SUV, there are things you can do to drastically boost your gas mileage. And not only can these tips help save you money, they also help save the environment and lower your carbon footprint.
So what can you do to increase your gas mileage and save money on gas?
1. Remove your roof rack and other additions
The Berkeley Lab found that a roof rack could cost you 25% of your fuel economy. Collectively, they accounted for 100 million gallons of gas in 2015 in North America.
If you need a roof rack, get one that snaps on and off. Don't run it permanently. Even flags for your favorite team can cost you 10% at the pumps. They're not worth it.
2. Close Your Windows
If you drive with your arm out the open window, you're paying a price for that particular freedom. Again, it will hit your fuel consumption to the tune of 10%. So, close the window and use mild air conditioning instead. Yes, the air conditioning will have an impact on your economy, too—so use it sparingly.
3. Check Your Tire Pressure
Hypermilers—those who make skillful changes in the way they drive to use less gas—sometimes over-inflate their tires to run on a narrow ridge. Don't do this; it's dangerous. The tires can lose their grip and the car can slide. It's just a bad idea and it doesn't even work.
Instead, check your tires at least once a month and keep them at the right—and equal—pressure on each side. For every 1psi your tires are off, you can lose up to 0.4% of your car's fuel economy. So, keep your pressures on point.
4. Empty Your Trunk
You should have basic emergencies for those rare times you get stuck. But if you're carrying round dead weight, it's costing you.
Every 100 pounds of additional weight could cost you 1%-2% on your fuel economy. It's not a lot, but every little bit counts.
5. Service Your Car
An oil change and air filter can boost your gas mileage by as much as 4%. If your engine is seriously out of whack, then it can have a massive impact. Get your car serviced regularly. Or, if you’re unsure of how often your vehicle should be serviced, refer to CarCare.org’s general service schedule.
6. Turn off Your Engine When Idle
If you're going to be immobile for 30 seconds or more in your vehicle, kill the engine. Today's stop-start technology automatically cuts the power at traffic lights and when the car is stationary. The savings are significant. Be your own stop-start where you can.
7. Drive Slowly
Your car is tuned to get the best gas mileage around the legal speed limit. Keep it just a little under, stay smooth on the gas, and you will be amazed how your car just keeps finding more range.
Focus on being smooth. Change the rules of the game and concentrate on avoiding the brake pedal altogether. Look further ahead, give yourself extra space, and keep your speed absolutely constant. It's a new skill that will save you money.
8. Use Cruise Control/“Eco” Mode
Cruise control used to be crude and clumsy. It isn't anymore. The car is essentially one big computer these days, so the cruise control will modulate the throttle with smoother inputs than we ever could. If your vehicle has an economy “Eco” mode, it will be all about short shifting the gearbox and keeping the engine just above tickover. That's good.
9. Get to Your Moving Speed, Fast
Don't creep up to your desired speed—get there fast, and then back right off. When the traffic light turns green, give the right pedal a confident shove and get to about 2,000rpm. Then, shuffle the gears and keep the revs low.
Drafting is a technique, usually used by race cars, to reduce drag by driving closely behind another car. It will make a minimal difference, but if you stay safely close to the vehicle in front of you, you’ll be able to punch a hole in the air and reduce your wind resistance. Serious hypermilers can take this too far and it can be dangerous, so don't follow too closely behind someone for too long. But dip in to the “tow” from big trucks as you approach, and you'll be able to coast a bit—and save money on gas.