Green Driving Series: 9 Tips to Improve Your Gas Mileage

Welcome to the third installment of the Green Driving Series.  The first article focused on green (and not so green) vehicles.  In the second article we talked about why topping off your gas tank is a no-no.

In this article we’re sharing nine ways to stretch every last mile out of your gas tank.  Why?  Using less fuel is good for your wallet and good for the environment.

Gas Mileage

1.  Drive smart

Avoid driving aggressively; jack-rabbit starts and quick stops burn fuel more quickly than smooth acceleration and smooth braking.  Flooring the gas pedal is a double whamy – it not only wastes gas, it leads to drastically higher pollution rates.  From greencars.org:

One second of high-powered driving can produce nearly the same volume of carbon monoxide emissions as a half hour of normal driving.

Anticipate stops and let your foot off the gas in advance of braking.  This is another double whamy – you’ll save gas and wear on your brakes.

2.  Slow down

Follow the speed limit to increase fuel efficiency.  Studies have found that driving 75 mph results in worse fuel economy than driving 65 mph.  A Consumer Reports test, using a Toyota Camry, showed that slowing down from 75 mph to 65 mph resulted in a 5 MPG performance increase.

3.  Don’t let your vehicle idle

Cars no longer require “warming-up”.  Idling longer than 30 seconds uses more fuel than it takes to start the engine.  If you are going to be stopped for more than 30 seconds turn off your engine.

4.  Follow your vehicle’s scheduled maintenance

Dirty or damaged air filters can decrease gas mileage.  Also, changing the oil and oil filter regularly helps fuel economy.

5.  Look for LRR tires

When it’s time to replace your tires look for low-rolling-resistance (LRR) tires which can improve a vehicle’s fuel economy by rolling more easily than standard tires.  According to TreeHugger a compact car fitted with LRR tires can improve its mileage from 30 MPG to 32 MPG – a fuel savings of about $100 (at $3.00 per gallon) per year for a car averaging 15,000 miles per year.

6.  Properly and evenly inflate your tires

Follow the vehicle’s or tire maker’s recommendation for inflation (usually found in the vehicle manual, on a sticker inside the driver’s door or on the sidewall of your tire) to improve your fuel economy up to 3%.  Tires that are underinflated by 10 PSI result in about 1.3 MPG worse mileage than correctly inflated tires.  Tires lose about 1 pound of pressure in a month so check the air pressure regularly.  Another plus to properly inflated tires:  your tires will last longer.

7.  Eliminate drag

Everything from a roof-top luggage carrier to a ribbon on the antennae can hurt your fuel economy.  So take off the ski rack when you aren’t going skiing and remove those Laker flags and Jack in the Box antennae balls :-).

8.  Reduce trips

Combining errands saves gas by reducing the miles you drive AND by keeping your engine warm (a warm engine burns fuel more efficiently).

9.  Check the junk in your trunk

Extra weight decreases your gas mileage to the tune of about 1% for an extra 100 pounds; remove unnecessary items from your trunk and cargo area.

10.  Your turn

Share your favorite way to improve your vehicle’s fuel economy below!

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