Regardless of the make and model, your car’sestimated gas mileage is just that, an estimate. An important variable ishow you fuel, drive, and maintain your car. Below is a bumper-to-bumperguide to help you drive down the cost of driving.
1. The Gas Tank – Making the right choice at the gas pump is an important first step tokeeping your car running efficiently and economically.
• Research Gas Prices Before Buying. To find gas savings nearby, try GasPriceWatchor GasBuddy. There is even a really neat gas widget you can download atAutomotive.com.
• Regular octane fuel is recommended for most cars. Buying a high-octane gasolinemost likely will not improve your car’s performance, but will add to your fuel cost.Estimated Savings: 15 to 35 cents per gallon, source: Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
• Do not top off. When the pump clicks, stop filling up. The extra gas you force in willlikely evaporate or seep out.
• Do not buy gas in the middle of the day. On a veryhot day, gas at the pump actually expands, whichmeans you’re really getting less for your money. Buyduring the cooler morning or evening hours.
•Check your gas cap. Gas caps that are damaged,loose or missing can cause gallons of gas to vaporize,sending you to the pump sooner than necessary.
Source: Car Care Council
2. The Steering Wheel - When it comes to stretching your gas budget, how youdrive can be almost as important as how far you drive.
• Stay within the posted speed limits. Gas mileage decreases rapidly atspeeds above 60 miles per hour. Estimated Savings: 7 to 49 cents pergallon.
• Avoid Aggressive Driving. Speeding, rapid acceleration and constantbraking are all symptoms of aggressive driving that waste gas. Payattention to the traffic flow to maintain a more constant speed. Drivingsensibly can lower gas mileage by as much as 22% on highway and 5% on city streets.
Source: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); cost savings are based on an assumed valueof $3.23 a gallon.
•Slow Down. Slowing down from 75 mph to 65 mph can save you 12% on your gas bill.It also keeps you from a collection of speeding tickets. Gas mileage usually decreasesrapidly at speeds above 60 mph. Estimated Savings: 10 cents per gallon.Source: EPA; cost savings are based on an assumed value of $3.23 a gallon.
• Avoid jackrabbit starts and stops. You can improve in-town gas mileage by up to 5%by driving “gently.”
• Use overdrive gears and cruise control when appropriate. They improve fueleconomy when you’re driving on the highway.
3. The Tires
•Keeping your tires properly inflated and aligned can increase gasmileage up to 3%. Estimated Savings: Up to 10 cents per gallon.
Source: EPA; cost savings are based on an assumed value of $3.23 a gallon.
4. Under the Hood - You do not have to be a gearhead to keep your enginepurring at its fuel-efficient best.
• Keep your engine tuned. Tuning your engine according to your owner’s manual canincrease gas mileage by an average of four percent.
• Stop Idling. Allowing your vehicle to run idle for longer than a minute is equivalent tothrowing money out of the window. You are burning gas but getting zero miles pergallon. Shut off the car; it takes less gas to restart it than what is being used whilesitting still. Source: Car Care Council
• Use The Recommended Oil. You can improve your gas mileage by up to 2% whenusing the grade of oil recommended by the manufacturer. Estimated Savings: 3 to 6cents a gallon. Source: EPA; cost savings are based on an assumed value of $3.23 a gallon.
• Change your oil. Clean oil reduces wear caused by friction between moving parts andremoves harmful substances from the engine. You can improve your gas mileage byusing the grade of motor oil in your owner’s manual and changing it according to theschedule recommended by your car manufacturer. Motor oil that says “EnergyConserving” on the performance symbol of the American Petroleum Institute containsfriction-reducing additives that can improve fuel economy.
• Check and replace air filters regularly. A clean air filter serves a dual purpose: Itsaves gas and protects your engine. Replacing clogged filters can increase gasmileage up to 10 %. Estimated Savings: 15 to 32 cents per gallon. Source: EPA; cost
savings are based on an assumed value of $3.23 a gallon.
5. The Trunk
•Drop The Weight. Avoid keeping unnecessary, heavy items in your vehicle. An extra100 pounds could reduce your miles per gallon by up to 2%, based on the percentageof extra weight relative to the vehicle’s total weight, which affects smaller cars morethan larger ones. Estimated Savings: 3 to 6 cents per gallon. Source: EPA; cost savings are based on an assumed value of $3.23 a gallon.
6. The Driver’s Seat - The only sure-fire “equipment” guaranteed to get morefrom a gallon of gas is a fuel-conscious driver behind the wheel.
• Combine errands. Several short trips taken from a cold start can usetwice as much fuel as one trip covering the same distance when theengine is warm.
• Park in the shade. When your car is hot, a small amount of gas canevaporate. Keep your car as cool as possible in the shade or garage.Plus, you will use your air conditioner less.
• Roll your windows up on the interstate. It is the one time when it pays to turn yourair conditioner on. Keeping the windows down at high speeds creates so much drag, itactually uses more gas.
• Do not drive out of your way for a bargain. Chances are, you will spend moremoney driving just a few miles to a station with cheaper gas than you will save once youget there.
• Plan Ahead. Trips to the grocery store, dry cleaners and shopping centers should beplanned so you are not wasting time retracing your route.Make a list of what you need so you do not forget something and haveto make a return trip. Sources: EPA, FTC.
• Try not to turn left. UPS, an authority on driving efficiency, researchshows drivers waiting long stretches to turn left, use more gas because theengine is idling.