Cruising and Coasting
Remember those iconic 1950s photos of cars slowly cruisin’ the strip? That go-slow approach to driving can help save a lot of gas. Whenever possible, look ahead and anticipate red lights, taking your foot off the gas half a block before a stop. Avoid hard braking, which according to some estimates can increase fuel consumption by as much as 40 percent.
Easy Does It
Avoid sudden, sharp starts when accelerating from zero at a stop sign or light. According to some automobile industry estimates, up to 50 percent of your car’s energy is used in acceleration. Press on the pedal gradually and smoothly to use less gas.
Lighten Up the Lead Foot
Avoid driving faster than the speed limit. Compared with driving 65 miles per hour, sticking to 55 miles per hour can improve your gas mileage by about 15 percent according to the U.S. Department of Energy. In fact, their fuel economy website states that every 5 miles per hour you drive over 50 miles per hour is like "paying an additional $0.18 per gallon for gas.”
Use Cruise Control Wisely
Cruise control can assist your quest for better mileage, but only when used properly. DMV.org advises, “Employ cruise control on extended flat stretches of highway, but deactivate on hills. Cruise control loses momentum on the ascent, and chugs gas on the descent.”
Close That Window
It may seem counterintuitive, but when you're driving at highway speeds, it is more efficient to use air conditioning than to open the windows because wind drag decreases fuel efficiency. For the same reason, avoid opening the sunroof, which will disrupt airflow and increase wind drag. Feel free, however, to tool around town with the windows down. At low speeds running the air conditioner would use more fuel than would be lost to the small amount of aerodynamic drag.
Shut It Down
Parking for a few minutes? Turn off that engine! Idling can use as much as half a gallon of fuel per hour. According to the Department of Energy, idling by personal vehicles wastes about 3 billion gallons of fuel annually. Eliminating unnecessary idling in personal vehicles could result in fuel savings and emissions reductions equivalent to taking 5 million vehicles off the roads.
Related: 13 Hacks Every Car Owner Should Know
Don't Keep Junk in the Trunk
Cleaning out your car will not only make you feel better, it will improve your gas mileage. According to automobile industry estimates, for every 100 pounds of stuff you remove from the trunk, you can expect to improve your gas mileage by 1 to 2 percent.
Streamline, Streamline, Streamline
Avoid installing roof racks, cargo carriers, bike racks, antenna flags, decorations, or anything else that could increase wind resistance on your car. According to industry estimates, a roof-mounted cargo box can reduce fuel efficiency by up to 25 percent at highway speed. A rear-mounted cargo box is substantially more efficient but still reduces efficiency by up to 5 percent at highway speeds.
Check Those Tires
Under- and overinflated tires can wreak havoc on your gas mileage as well as shorten the life span of the treads. Indeed, underinflated tires can increase your car’s fuel consumption by up to 6 percent. Check your manual to learn the correct pressure for your car's tires, and test the pressure once a month with a tire gauge. According to the Energy Information Administration, if all drivers maintained proper tire pressure, the U.S. could save approximately 800,000 barrels of oil a day. When the time comes to replace your tires, consider newer models, called “low-rolling resistance” tires, to improve efficiency.
Related: 8 Easy Ways to Winter-Proof Your Car
Make sure your monthly to-do list includes giving your car some TLC. Simple vehicle maintenance could increase your car's fuel efficiency by as much as 30 percent. Regular maintenance includes changing the oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, replacing air filters, using a fuel with the right octane rating to ensure best performance, getting routine tune-ups, and tightening your gas cap until you hear the final “click” so you don’t lose gas to evaporation.
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