Servicing Is Important
Keep your vehicle well maintained with regular servicing to keep it operating at peak efficiency. An inefficient engine—with fouled spark plugs, for example—won’t make optimum use of fuel. Be sure the air filter and the fuel filter are clean. Put in new ones if they’re not. A new oxygen sensor alone can improve gas mileage by as much as 15 percent, according to AutoZone, a car parts store.
Don’t forget little things like the air in your tires. Having tires inflated to the maximum recommended pressure can improve gas mileage by as much as 6 percent, while periodic wheel alignments can help improve fuel economy up to 10 percent, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Clean out that trunk, cargo area or pickup bed. Take out unneeded items that only add weight to your vehicle. Extra weight decreases gas mileage. According to AutoZone, every 200 pounds of unnecessary weight shaves one mile per gallon off your fuel mileage.
Be a Different Driver
Change your driving style. Accelerate gradually, drive smoothly and with care and you could see as much as a 20 percent gain in fuel economy compared with what you’d get with an aggressive driving style, the EPA says. Skip those jackrabbit starts and sudden pedal-to-the-metal maneuvers if you want to save gas. Anticipate stops so you avoid sudden braking, and take a long view of the road ahead, coasting safely to an intersection in front of you where you see traffic stopped.
Don’t speed. A car or truck moving at 55 miles an hour can get about 15 percent better fuel economy than the same car going 65 mph. Use your vehicle’s navigation system, if you have one, in your travels to new locales. This can save you from getting lost and wasting gas.
Don’t be idle too long. Don’t waste fuel by sitting in that drive-thru lane at McDonald’s or Taco Bell. Park and go inside instead. Don’t let your vehicle idle as you wait outside the elementary school to pick up your children. Idling uses more fuel than turning the engine off, waiting for your youngsters and then restarting the engine.
When you’re in slow city traffic, keep the air conditioner off, if possible. Roll down the windows and open the air vents to keep you and your riders comfortable. That air conditioner is a burden that uses fuel, and if you’re tooling around town, you can see a “very slight” improvement in gas mileage by keeping it turned off, a Mercedes-Benz spokesman said.
Combine your errands into one trip, rather than taking multiple trips from home. Organize your stops so they’re near each other and so you don’t retrace your path. You may even be able to park in one central spot and walk between some of your stops rather than driving and parking at each one. For large gatherings like family reunions and church picnics, organize a carpool. If the distance to these events is long, Budget Rent a Car Corp. suggests even renting a 15-person van to maximize fuel savings vs. driving a number of separate vehicles in these circumstances.
Plan your trips so you go out during less-congested times of day. When there’s less traffic, you’re more apt to be able to drive smoothly. Use navigation aids on the Internet or in your vehicle to keep from getting lost—and thus wasting fuel—when you’re headed to a new, unknown location.
Note that road and weather conditions have a role, too, in the fuel economy of your vehicle. Driving into a 20-mph headwind can reduce fuel economy by as much as 6 percent. Driving up a mountain road with a 7 percent grade can cut fuel economy by as much as 25 percent. Driving on gravel and in slush and snow requires a bit more fuel, too