Nine Easy Ways to Pump Up Your Mileageby Tammy Williams VehicleMD Staff Writer Originally published in Fall 2009 Issue
Do you want to get more for your money at the fuel pump? Here are nine things you can do right now to help maximize your car’s fuel economy.
1. Slow Down – As speed increases, fuel economy decreases exponentially. Driving 62 mph versus 75 mph will reduce fuel consumption by about 15 percent. You’ll save a lot of fuel, and your trip won’t take much longer.
2. Check Tire Pressure – Remember trying to ride a bike with a flat tire? You had to pedal a lot harder. Under-inflated tires will make your engine work harder, too. Tires lose about one psi of air pressure per month, and a tire that is under-inflated by two psi can reduce fuel economy by 1 percent.
3. Empty It Out - It doesn’t take much to acquire an extra 20 or 30 pounds of stuff in your trunk or back seat. And the more weight your vehicle has to carry around, the more fuel it burns. So, empty unneeded items out of your vehicle. Leave the stuff you don’t need right now at home, and reload it when you do need it.
4. Check Your Air Filter – A dirty air filter makes it harder for your engine to breathe, which affects performance and fuel economy. Changing your dirty air filter can improve your vehicle’s fuel mileage by as much as 10 percent.
5. A/C versus Windows – When the air conditioner is turned on, it puts an extra load on the engine forcing more fuel to be used. However, open windows, especially at highway speeds, can increase drag, resulting in decreased fuel economy. Rolling your windows down at low speeds and using your air conditioner at high speeds may help you gain a few extra miles out of each gallon.
6. Check the Gas Cap – Make sure your gas cap is on, tight and not damaged. Improperly tightened or missing gas caps allow 147 million gallons of fuel to vaporize every year in the United States.
7. Use Cruise Control – Maintaining a consistent speed over long distances saves fuel. Continued deceleration followed by acceleration uses more fuel; cruise control helps keep your speed constant, helping to increase your car’s mileage.
8. Keep the Tailgate Up – It might seem counterintuitive, but lowering your tailgate creates turbulence, and turbulence creates more drag, which makes your truck less efficient at highway speeds. By leaving the tailgate up, you create a smooth bubble of air in the bed, allowing air to pass over it and improving your fuel economy.
9. Avoid Long Idles – If you anticipate being stopped for more than a minute or so, shut off your vehicle. Restarting the vehicle uses less fuel than letting it idle for one minute.