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Where can you find some tips on increasing your car’s fuel economy? Here are some ways to save money and time at the pump,
Reduce pain at the pump
With the price of gas pushing $3/gallon in the US (at the time of this writing), we’re all feeling it in our wallets when we fill up. So what can you do about it?
Well, I first want to state very clearly that there is no “magic bullet” out there that’s going to give you 100mpg immediately. And before you run out and buy an electric car or a hybrid, think really hard about how much money it’s really going to save you to go out and buy a new car.
Be real. In most cases, you’d have to drive that new hybrid for 4 or 5 years before you even make back what you paid for it in gas savings. In short, if you have a new(er) car that gets okay mileage and you’re trying to save money in the long term, don’t bother trading it for that Tesla or Prius or what have you. Planning on buying a new car anyway? Then go for it!
Easy ways to save money by saving gas
However, there are some things you can do to save a few miles per gallon here and there, according to the US Department of Energy. Here are the highlights:
Easy there, leadfoot: You don’t have to mash the gas at every traffic light. Yes, I know. It’s fun. But by treating the throttle like there’s an egg between your foot and the pedal, you can reduce your gas usage from 5% around town to 33% at highway speeds. Which brings us to…
Observe the speed limit: Each car reaches its peak fuel economy at a different speed, however with most cars, mileage begins to drop off significantly above 60mph. Does that mean do 60 in a 75? No. You’ll get killed, flipped off, or both. But it means that doing 75 in a 55 might save you time, but it’s going to cost you money.
Get that junk out of your trunk: You know how it’s harder to walk around with a backpack full of books? Yeah well, it’s harder for your car to move with that pallet of Diet Coke in the back. Every 100 pounds of extra stuff in your car can cost you 2% in fuel economy. This is also a great way to discourage taking your kids to the mall. “But think of the environment!”
Go for a cruise: Do you have cruise control? Use it. Not only will it keep you from irritating everyone around you on the freeway because your speed varies by 10mph up and down, it will help you save a few bucks too. Maintaining a constant speed burns less gas.
Maximum overdrive: Stick fans, got a 5th or 6th gear? Use it. Drive a slushbox? Keep it in the top “D” gear. Not only does your engine burn less gas at lower RPMs, it reduces wear on your motor as well.
Stay in shape: No, not you — your car. Is your check engine light on? An out of tune car can gain up to 4% in fuel economy just by doing a tune-up. Got a bad O2 sensor? Replace it immediately! Not only does that improve your car’s emissions, but it can also improve your fuel mileage by as much as 40 percent.
Ya gotta keep ’em inflated: Keeping your tires inflated to manufacture specs will help your MPGs. For every 1 psi drop in pressure, you lose .3% of gas mileage. Don’t know what your correct tire pressure is? Open your driver’s door and look for a sticker on the door jamb. (Or just, you know, read the owner’s manual.) Added benefit: Properly inflated tires are safer and last longer.
Use the right lube: Use the manufacturer recommended weight motor oil. Using a heavier grade of oil than recommended can cost you anywhere from 1-2% worth of fuel economy and up. Thinner is not always better, however, because you still need to make sure your oil can adequately protect your engine. See our article on how to choose a motor oil for more.
So don’t despair. Gas may not be $1 per gallon anymore, but you can still take some smart steps to save a couple of bucks per tank.