If you are an experienced driver and have been on the road for any appreciable amount of time, you have seen gas prices come a long way, or rather, you have seen them climb a long way. As prices increase, most drivers are looking for ways to improve their mileage (in addition, of course, to making use of all shopper’s card, gas card and/or credit card discounts that apply to filling up).
Today we give you a number of tips that can work wonders for your gas mileage. You don’t need to try them all at once, but if you put one or two into practice, you might be pleasantly surprised and wish to take on a few more.
- Topping Off the Tank. Well, for one thing – Don’t Do It! …Okay, okay, so it’s not the most complex item we use to lead off today’s list. But it can be the most frustrating from a tip-giving standpoint. Gas that is added after the nozzle clicks off tends to slop and seep off. Depending on how much you drive and how many times you fill up each month, those are pennies (or nickels or dimes) drip, drip, dripping out of your pocket.
- Fuel Choice. Really, there’s no need to impress a date – or the driver filling up at the next pump – by making a showy choice of 92 octane gas. Unless your car specifically requires premium fuel, you’re best off buying the lowest octane that is appropriate for your vehicle. Using higher octane fuel does not improve fuel economy.
- And when you’re done not impressing with your choice of fuel, be sure to Tighten the Gas Cap. Gasoline is a sneaky one, and when given the opportunity of an escape route (i.e., path to open air provided by a missing, loose or damaged fuel cap), it will take that path to the tune of up to 30 gallons lost per year.
- Tire Inflation. As you’ve likely heard before, tire inflation has a significant effect on gas mileage. Under inflated tires create more resistance between tire and road, making your engine work harder to cover the same amount of miles. Check the recommended inflation for your car and keep on top of this with at least monthly checks, to avoid losing as much as 15%, or about 2 mpg, on fuel economy (not to mention a similar 15% on reduced tire life).
- In Tune, In Harmony. A misfiring spark plug can translate to a full 30% decrease in fuel efficiency. The cost of a poorly running engine can be 4% or more when it comes to mileage. Keep your engine tuned and maintained to put money back in your wallet.
- Watch that Speed! Driving over 60 mph has been shown to decrease fuel economy.
- Extra Weight can be a Drag. Trim your car’s fighting weight by removing any unnecessary items from the trunk and cabin. That full golf bag will cost you about $130 per year to lug around town, if you average 15,000 miles annually.You can further reduce drag by removing unused roof racks or other attachments; and by periodically checking and maintaining your car’s alignment.
- Breathe in, Breathe out. There’s a reason we change that air filter every 12,000 – 15,000 miles (check manual for your vehicle’s recommendation). Clean air allows easier acceleration and, in turn, reduced fuel consumption.
- Speaking of air, a check of your Oxygen Sensors might be in order. While the life expectancy of a modern sensor is upwards of 100,000 miles, sensors can develop problems sooner than that, and the cost can be steep – perhaps a 40% decline in fuel economy, or 0.15 per gallon. Your mechanic can perform a quick check here periodically.
- Oil Type. All things being equal, a thinner oil gives better fuel mileage than a thicker one. However, there are other considerations when selecting oil type. Your mechanic can provide more explanation on this aspect of fuel economy.
And for our friends and customers here in Colorado who regularly drive up to the high country and tour our beautiful Rocky Mountains, remember to go easy on the gas pedal as you head up I-70 or Hwy 285 from Denver. It’s not a race and pushing your foot to the floor will only tax your engine, burn up more gas, and likely not get you to your destination a whole lot faster. The beauty of driving in our Colorado mountains is: eventually you will have a downhill run at some point and you can watch your digital read-outs report all kinds of amazing gas mileage stats!