The newer your car, truck or SUV is, the better gas mileage you are able to get out it. This is because of lighter materials in construction and more efficient fuel usage in the engine design. Overall improvements in technology and manufacturing are helping you get more miles for your gas dollars. Outside of manufacturing, there are several steps you as a driver can take to get better – or much worse – mileage. The difference in how to get the best mileage out of your vehicle comes down to driving habits and being mindful of weight and proper maintenance.
How you Drive Accelerate and Brake Gently
The way you drive makes the most difference in how far you can go on a tank of gas. Acceleration and hard braking are the main habits that you can change to get better mileage. They are not just good defensive driving techniques. Keep a proper following distance – it won’t just make you a courteous driver, it will also help you on your mileage. By keeping a larger following distance, you can make smoother adjustments. Every time you slam your brakes instead of evenly slowing and stopping causes your engine to burn much more gas. Keep a safe following distance while in traffic – the rule of thumb is to keep a minimum of 2 seconds of space between you and the vehicle in front of you.
Are you driving around with a full trunk? Extra weight contributes to your overall gas mileage by making it harder for the engine to do the same amount of work. One counterintuitive source of significant weight is actually the gas itself. A gallon of gas is 8.34 pounds – if you have an average small car with a 12 gallon tank, a full tank of gas then weighs around 100 pounds. For every 100 pounds in your car, you can expect to add roughly $31.32 a year.
Inflate Tires to the Correct Pressure
We recently discussed how to get the best life out of your tires
. Having tires with the correct pressure not only lengthens their life, but will give you more efficient mileage.
Correct Motor Oil and Regular Oil Changes
Another recent blog entry covers the differences in types of oil and how it impacts your vehicle. Proper oil maintenance not only allows your car to perform better, giving you better mileage, it also keeps the parts from becoming damaged. Most of the loss in gas mileage that isn’t driving habit-related will come from leaks and worn down engine parts.
How easily a vehicle moves through the air is also a factor in gas mileage. This is also why vehicles have been moving further and further away from older boxy looking designs. Automakers fine-tune the way the air attaches to the vehicle’s surface, and the way it leaves the rear end. If you have ski racks or mudflaps, they are just adding wind resistance, making the job of cutting through the air that much more difficult.
Other Basic Habits and Maintenance Tips
Use your cruise control and avoid idling for long periods of time. If you have a manual, drive in the highest gear for the speed you are traveling. Make sure that your gas cap is secured; loose or lost gas caps can kill your gas mileage as it allows the gas to easily evaporate right into the air.
When buying gas, use apps like Gasbuddy
to find the best price in your area. Air filters can also affect your mileage and should be considered something to routinely check as part of maintenance.