6 ways to improve your vehicle’s fuel efficiency (maybe)

By Naomi Muller

When gas prices are up, any action you take to reduce your bill at the pump counts. We can’t all take public transportation all the time. There isn’t one big routine adjustment you can opt for that will make a noticeable difference but there are a few small things you can do that will add up and hopefully save you some money.

Here are a few tips for drivers who already have a vehicle and want to work with what they have to save a little at the pump.

  1. Stay on top of routine maintenance. Try to stay up to date on regularly scheduled oil changes and have a mechanic check on your vehicle’s engine annually. Poor alignment, underinflated tires, dirty air filters, and clogged fuel injectors are some of the issues that arise under the hood without drivers noticing. These types of mechanical problems affect the longevity of your car and it’s fuel efficiency. Prioritize getting your vehicle serviced regularly. It is one of the main keys to avoiding wasting gasoline regardless of other changes you make in your driving habits and routine.
  2. Limit idling as much as possible. If you’re sitting in one place for longer than 10 seconds, you’re probably wasting fuel. Turn your engine off if you’re going to be stationary for more than a minute. Restarting modern cars isn’t hard on the engine or the battery, idling leads to worse wear and tear. Now you know!
  3. Drive conservatively. Slow it down if you’re a habitual speeder. Keep steady and within the speed limit. Make use of cruise control if you have it. Accelerate gently and coast to decelerate. If you’re having to hit the brakes often, remember you’re using gas to do so.

  4. Clear out clutter to lighten your load. Maybe you don’t have a full trunk from the last time you tried taking donations to your local thrift store only to find they were closed. Maybe you don’t have enough old receipts on your floorboard to wrap a gift in a pinch. Maybe you don’t travel with a duffel bag of snacks just in case—if you do, consider cleaning up your interior junk piles. They may be weighing your car down more than you realize. Keep some emergency tools and a first aid kit in your ride but ditch the rest. Let go of heavy old phone books and find a cloud data provider to help you manage contact data and lists.
  5. Anticipate traffic and try to avoid rush hour. This goes back to the idling point. Sitting in one spot or moving at a snail’s space bumper-to-bumper equates to not making the most of the fuel in your tank. Of course, we can’t always avoid busy times on the road—but a slightly longer, less-traveled backroad where you have the ability to coast may be a better choice for stretching your gas further.
  6. Roll up your windows when driving on the highway. Contrary to popular belief, running your car’s air conditioning is more fuel efficient in some cases. At higher speeds, it is better for saving gas to use AC than it is to ride with your windows down to stay cool. This also varies by car design, for boxier vehicles like SUVs this tip likely won’t make a difference, and at slower speeds it doesn’t apply.

One thing some drivers may try that doesn’t seem to significantly help with fuel efficiency is springing for the premium options at the pump when not required for your vehicle. It may make a slight difference but for the price, it’s not a cost-saving method to stretch gas and get more mileage for less.

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