Do you dread staring at your car’s fuel gauge? Do you sigh when it’s time to refill the gas tank? If so, that’s understandable. Gasoline is a major expense for many drivers, and it’s hard to not feel the pain at the pump. To help boost your car’s gas mileage and save you some cash, the experts at FuelEconomy.gov offer the following driving and maintenance tips:
- Minimize idling your car by turning off your engine when your vehicle is parked for more than 10 seconds. Idling can use a quarter- to a half-gallon of fuel per hour, depending on engine size and air conditioner use, adding up to $0.03 of wasted fuel a minute.
- Drive sensibly and avoid aggressive driving, such as speeding, rapid acceleration and hard braking. Aggressive driving can lower your highway gas mileage by up to 33 percent and your city mileage by 5 percent.
- Avoid high speeds. Above 50 mph, gas mileage drops rapidly. For every 5 mph above 50 mph, it’s like paying an additional $0.19 per gallon of gas.
- Reduce drag by placing items inside the car or trunk rather than on roof racks, which can decrease your fuel economy by up to 8 percent in city driving and up to 25 percent at Interstate speeds.
- Avoid keeping heavy items in your car. An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could increase your gas costs by up to $0.03 per gallon.
- Combine errands. Several short trips, each one taken from a cold start, can use twice as much fuel as one trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm.
Car Maintenance Tips
- Use the grade of motor oil your car’s manufacturer recommends. Using a different grade can lower your gas mileage by 1 percent to 2 percent.
- Improve your gas mileage by 0.6 percent on average—up to 3 percent in some cases—by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. Inflate your tires to the pressure listed in your owner’s manual or on a sticker that is either in the glove box or driver’s side door jamb. This number may differ from what’s listed on your tire’s sidewall.
- Get regular maintenance checks to avoid fuel economy problems due to worn spark plugs, dragging brakes, sagging belts or transmission problems. Fixing a serious maintenance problem, such as a faulty oxygen sensor, can improve mileage by as much as 40 percent.
- Don’t ignore the check-engine light—it can alert you to problems that affect fuel economy, as well as more serious problems, even when your vehicle seems to be running fine.
Of course, the best way to save on gas is to avoid driving altogether by walking or riding a bike whenever possible.