Gas prices have been edging up since the depths of the pandemic a year ago. Fortunately, there's a lot you can do to improve your mileage, short of trading in your current car for an EV. In a now-classic experiment, the experts at edmunds.com put common fuel-saving theories to a real-world test and found four that still hold true today:
1.Curb aggressive driving and save up to 37%.
Avoid jackrabbit starts, hard braking and zooming up to traffic lights. Besides cutting fuel consumption, a gentler approach lets you look farther down the road and better anticipate changing conditions – a huge safety plus.
2. Cut speeds on the open road
from 75 mph to 65 mph and save up to 14%. That doesn't include savings from avoiding possible speeding tickets!
3. Use cruise control and save up to 14%.
Cruise control eliminates natural variations in accelerator pressure. However, for safety's sake, don't use it in wet or icy conditions or on curvy or mountainous terrain where you constantly need to adjust to road conditions.
4. Minimize idling and warm-up time and save up to 19%.
Consider shutting off the car if you'll be idling longer than a minute (idling longer typically uses more fuel than restarting). Many newer cars automatically shut themselves off at stoplights (auto start/stop cars typically restart when you lift your foot off the brake). And warm-ups? Modern fuel-injected cars don't require them, since their sensors adjust the gasoline and air mix to account for cold temperatures.
To those super-saving tips, we'd add four more:
5. Inflate your tires to the recommended PSI.
Not only does under-inflation compromise your car's steering and braking ability, it's a drag on mileage. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates you can improve mileage up to 3% just by keeping tires inflated to manufacturers' specifications. That's a lot, considering that fewer than one in five consumers properly inflate their tires, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
6. Get a tune up.
An engine that's running well will consume an average of 4% less fuel than one that's noticeably out of tune, according to the Department of Energy. Using the manufacturer-recommended grade of motor oil can boost your mileage another 1 or 2%.
7. Lighten your load.
If your trunk is filled with out-of-season sports gear, you're consuming extra gas just to haul it around.
8. Pass on Premium.
While not technically a fuel-saving tip, burning Regular rather than Premium can save you significantly at the pump. According to AAA, only 16% of vehicles on the road (think older or high-performance cars) need the higher octane of Premium. Do, however, look for "Top Tier" fuel, which has extra additives and detergents beneficial to your car. Check out this report from Q13 News, where an expert from PEMCO weighs in.
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