We all have our weekly routines. Run to the grocery store. Stop by the dry cleaners. Fill the car up with gas.
And that’s when you notice the price of everything is going up, up, up! Especially gas. When did they get that high?
You know you won’t be buying a new car any time soon. Those high-priced electric vehicles aren’t anywhere near your budget. But still, there has to be something you can do to improve your car’s gas mileage.
Ultimately, gas mileage is determined in the factory when your car was initially built. The aerodynamics of the body, the compression ratio in the engine, the type of motor oil you put into the engine – all of it was put into place with a specific outcome in mind. The original designers built your car’s make and model for a purpose. And with that came a gas mileage range you can hope to achieve.
You can’t adjust aerodynamics. But you can change little things that will help you get the best mileage possible. Here’s what to do.
Pay attention to your driving
This isn’t a tip to go zen in your driving skills. But there is something we can take away from mindful behavior. Slower, steadier driving behavior wins every time.
Imagine for a second you’re in a rocketship. The countdown begins – 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. You shoot away from the launching pad, picking up speed as you go. The amount of pressure is astounding. The amount of fuel and energy … Yeah, you see where this is going.
When you pull away from a stoplight at the speed of a rocket, it takes energy. That equates to a lot of fuel. And when you do it repeatedly, that puts stress on your gas tank. More fuel is needed for this quick behavior, which means you’ll be filling up at the gas tank more, and watching your fuel bills continue to rise.
It’s not just pulling off the starting line either. Aggressive driving means you speed up, slam on the brakes, and do it all over again. Stop/start driving needs more fuel. And that impacts your gas mileage.
As you drive today, pay attention to your behavior. Change the radio station if you need calmness in your life. Use it to pull up on the gas pedal and leave more space between you and other cars.
Keep your tires properly inflated
What do your tires have to do with better gas mileage? A lot.
Think of all your tires do. They help you corner, stay moving straight ahead, and start and stop efficiently. They help provide a smooth, comfortable ride. They connect you to the road.
Now imagine doing all that when the tire isn’t at its best. When it’s over or under-inflated. Tires are inflated and measured as psi – pounds per square inch. You can check your owner’s manual to find the perfect psi for your vehicle. A drop in psi, even by a few points, can lower fuel economy over time.
Most cars come with tire monitoring systems to alert you when tires are outside the guidelines. Pull in and adjust tire pressure as soon as you’re alerted to a problem.
Stick with pre-approved motor oil
One of car ownership’s most common maintenance items is regularly changing the motor oil. Guidelines suggest to do so about every 5,000 miles.
Depending on what you watch or read, you may start to notice different types of motor oil, or products with added benefits. Should you believe them?
Who knows your vehicle best? The people that designed it. That’s why an owner’s manual came with your vehicle. It’s filled with lots of ways to ensure your car stays running at its best.
You don’t need fillers and additives and performance products. Most of those were developed by companies looking to make profits. What you do need is to adhere to your manufacturer’s guidelines, and provide it with the care they suggest. Stick with the specific motor oil they recommend. Schedule oil changes as they suggest. A simple schedule is all it takes to keep your car running well.
When was the last time you changed your air filter?
Many car owners are guilty of ignoring the air filter. You can’t see an air filter.
Yet it’s an important part of keeping your engine working well, and affecting your gas mileage. How? Your car’s engine operates with a combination of fuel and oxygen. Too much or too little of one or the other, and it throws off the delicate balance of how the engine runs.
If an air filter is clogged, the engine has to work harder to draw in the required air supply for mixing with the fuel. More work puts more pressure on the system, lowering your fuel economy.
When was the last time you changed your air filter? It’s one of the least expensive maintenance items you can do to keep your car running well. Statistics show it can improve gas mileage by as much as 15 percent. Say “yes” the next time you’re in for maintenance work if you can’t remember the last time it was replaced.
Plan your trips wisely
The world has changed in the past few years. Maybe you’re working from home a little more. Maybe you’re planning out activities closer to home.
That’s a good thing for your gas mileage. The less time you spend idling in traffic, the better your gas mileage. But there are other ways to impact your gas mileage too.
Are you the type who runs out on errands every time you need something new? Forgot an onion – run to the store. There might be a better way.
Instead of driving several times a day, can you combine all of your errands? Create a list of things you need and places to visit, then build them into your routine. Maybe it’s “errand Wednesday.” Or you stop by on your way home from work.
There are many ways to add more to your drive time, and allow your engine to warm up and run more efficiently. It takes energy when you initiate a cold engine, especially during winter. If you can head out and keep your engine warm as you run around town, it’ll show up as increased gas mileage.