9 Ways You Can Improve Your Car’s Gas Mileage
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9 Ways You Can Improve Your Car’s Gas Mileage

Burning less fuel is good for the environment, but it’s also good for your wallet: the average car owner spends well over $100 on gasoline each month, so even a little change can add up to some serious savings. These tips can help you reduce fuel consumption by as much as 15-30% on the highway and 10-40% in town.

Slow Down

If speed doubles, air resistance is squared. That means if a car has to overcome 100 lbs. of wind resistance at 40 mph, it will have to overcome 1,000 lbs. of wind resistance at 80 mph. As a result, driving at high speeds can greatly decrease fuel economy. For most vehicles, every 5 mph over 50 mph increases fuel consumption by 7%.

Drive Smoothly

Accelerating harder uses more fuel and braking turns momentum into heat. The less you have to do of both, the better your car’s fuel economy will be. If your foot isn’t on the throttle, the fuel injectors will shut off. If you’re driving a manual, the injectors will switch back on if you’re in neutral to keep the engine idling.

Does your car have the option of displaying fuel economy on the gauge cluster? In studies on driving habits, simply having this feature turned on caused an improvement of 3% through passive changes, while drivers looking to improve fuel economy lowered fuel consumption by 10%.

Keep Up on Maintenance 

Low tire pressure increases the amount the tire flexes as it rolls down the road, increasing resistance and reducing fuel economy by 0.3% per PSI below the recommended tire pressure. The tires will lose air over time, so it’s best to check your car’s tire pressure at least once a month. The correct pressure can be found on a placard located on the pillar by the driver’s door.

A dirty air filter makes it harder for the engine to draw in air, increasing fuel consumption by as much as 10%.

If the tires aren’t positioned correctly, they can scrub against the pavement as you go down the road. Keeping the wheels aligned saves wear on your tires and reduces the fuel needed to get your vehicle down the road.

Lose Weight

Every 100 lbs. removed from a vehicle can reduce fuel consumption by about 1%. Removing the tissue box and ice scraper from your vehicle isn’t going to make much difference, but if you regularly carry around extra tools or baby stuff, you could see some serious benefits from ditching items you don’t need.

Keep a Small Profile

If the frontal area of your car is smaller, there’s less air that needs to be pushed out of the way. Removing roof racks when they aren’t in use can increase fuel economy by up to 10%. If you need extra storage, use a rear-mount box: it will decrease fuel economy by about 5% on the highway, while top-mounted boxes can decrease it by as much as 25%.

Shut Off the Engine When You Aren’t Using It 

Stuck waiting for a train? Sitting at a long light? Starting an engine uses about as much fuel as 10 seconds of running it at idle, so if you know you’ll sit for longer, go ahead and shut it off.

Don’t Start Your Car Until You’re Ready to Drive 

It may be tempting to start the car before you’re ready to leave to run the air conditioner or the heater. However, there are ways to get the cabin comfortable without letting the engine idle. In the summer, putting up a windshield sun shade can lower the temperature inside your car by as much as 40 degrees. In the winter, a block heater will use a fraction of the energy to get your car’s engine up to temperature, so the heater will work sooner.

Consider Buying Low Rolling Resistance Tires

The University of Wisconsin tested a wide range of tires to see the effect of this technology and found that switching from the tire with the highest rolling resistance to the lowest could reduce fuel consumption by about 6%. For most vehicles, that’s an increase of 1-2 mpg. Most car manufacturers design their vehicles to use this type of tire, so you shouldn’t feel any real difference in performance until you’re at the gas pump.

Get a Thorough Repair After an Accident

It’s not uncommon for sloppy repairs to result in decreased fuel economy. Suspension damage leads to increased tire scrubbing, missing and poorly-fit body panels increase wind resistance, and unchecked mechanical damage can keep the engine from running the way it should. If your car has been in an accident and you need professional autobody work, or a wheel alignment, bring it to Merton Auto Body. We’re an I-CAR Gold Class certified shop, our technicians are ASE certified, and we’re a preferred repair shop for most major insurance companies. Stop by our Sussex, WI location for a free estimate. We proudly service the Waukesha County and surrounding Lake Country areas including Delafield, Pewaukee, Hartland, and Oconomowoc.


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