There are lots of web pages offering advice on improving automobile gas mileage. The government's gas mileage tips are perhaps the most complete. Edmunds offers it's own ten tips for improving fuel economy. And Doris Dobkins' top ten list to better mileage is good.
In reviewing these sources, I found a number of surprising or out-of-the ordinary ways for improving car gas mileage. I compiled them into this list, which I hope will help you improve your car's fuel economy.
- Clean and Wax Your Car - Only one that I really questioned. Tom Wagner, Jr. (cited in Stretcher.com) claims a 7% gain in fuel economy (from 15 to 16 mpg) on a 1,600-mile road trip due to washing and waxing his car.
- Use the Air Conditioner - At highway speeds it's best to use your A/C INSTEAD of rolling down your windows, which creates enormous aerodynamic drag, reducing fuel efficiency. Same applies to an open sunroof. Use air vents first, then, if needed, the A/C. However, for city driving, open your windows. The drag at low speeds is insignificant.
- Don't Use Cruise Control - On uneven terrain, most cruise controls mirror the acceleration habits of a newly licensed 16 year-old. Don't use cruise control on uneven roads.
- Use Cruise Control - On flat, even terrain, use your cruise control to maintain an even speed and reduce acceleration/deceleration cycles that reduce fuel efficiency.
- Use Overdrive Gears - Many people neglect to use their overdrive gears on the highway and miss the gas-saving efficiencies of that extra gear.
- Inflate Your Tires - Remember as a kid how hard it was to pedal your bike with a low tire? Low tire pressure reduces mileage up to 4% per five pounds of pressure. Over time, ALL tires lose pressure (it's unavoidable), so check them every month.
- Replace Air Filter - Dirty filter can reduce fuel economy by 10% or more.
- Lose Weight - Take out all the junk you have accumulated in the trunk, under and between the seats, etc. Every pound counts.
- Go Radial - It's a fact: radial tires get 2-3% better gas mileage.
- Go High Grade - Maybe - High grade gas delivers better mileage IF the engine is explicitly designed for it. Most aren't. Otherwise, high grade gas does NOT improve mileage and is a waste of money (unless you need to minimize engine knocking).
- Speed - NOT! - Reducing your speed from 65 mph (105kph) to 55 mph (88 kps) can save up to 17%.
- Be Aggressive - NOT! - General habits of acceleration/deceleration have the greatest impact on your gas mileage and fuel efficiency. If you only make one change, let this be it.
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