Tips to Get Great Gas Mileage
Individual driving habits and car maintenance can greatly affect gas mileage. Small actions to improve fuel economy add up quickly, reducing your impact on the environment and saving you hundreds of dollars each year at the gas pump.
Go with the flow. Try to manage your lane changes so that you avoid slowing down and speeding up. Anticipate traffic stops. Use cruise control when you can.
Avoid "jack rabbit" starts, abrupt stops and aggressive driving.
Follow the speed limit. Driving 65 mph instead of 75 mph will increase your fuel economy by about 10%.
Avoid rush hour. Stop-and-go driving burns more gasoline.
Plan your route. Don't make unnecessary trips, and combine several errands in one trip so that you avoid starting your car more often than you need to. If you have several things to do, but the timing is unimportant, save them up to do together in one longer trip.
Take a load off. The heavier your car is, the more gas it uses. Every extra 100 pounds costs you about a half-mile-per-gallon, so don't carry unnecessary weight.
Try not to idle. Letting your engine idle for more than 20 seconds uses more fuel than turning off the engine and restarting it. If there's a long line at the drive-in window, turn off your engine or park and go inside. Idling your vehicle is not an effective way to warm up a vehicle, even in cold weather. Excessive idling can be hard on your engine and even damage engine components such as cylinders, spark plugs and exhaust systems.
Don't drive around the parking lot waiting for a convenient place to open up. Park in the first space you find and walk! It's quite likely to save you time.
Avoid drag. If you drive with a roof rack, aerodynamic drag increases and results in higher fuel consumption. A roof rack that is not permanently fixed to your vehicle should be removed when it is not being used.
Use overdrive gear at cruising speeds. When driving a manual transmission, shift up as soon as possible.
Around town, try using the vents and opening windows to cool off. On the highway, an air conditioner is more fuel-efficient than opening windows.
Inflate your tires. Check your tire pressure at least once a month and maintain it at manufacturer specifications. Keeping your tires properly inflated helps reduce the amount of drag your engine must overcome, saving you fuel. If your tires are under-inflated by just 4 pounds, it will cost you a half-mile-per-gallon.
Keep track of your gas mileage. A drop in your car's fuel economy can be a sign of engine trouble.
Keep your vehicle well tuned. Simple maintenance will lengthen the life of your car as well as improve fuel economy and minimize emissions. Be sure to check for worn spark plugs, dragging brakes and low transmission fluid; have your wheels aligned and tires rotated; and replace the air filter if needed. A badly tuned car uses almost 10% more gas than a well-tuned car.
Get regular oil changes. In addition to making your car last longer, replacing the oil and oil filter regularly will also help fuel economy.
Written by Chris Hagerbaumer, Deputy Director, Oregon Environmental Council