How to Make Your Vehicle More Fuel-Efficient
With the ever-fluctuating cost of gas, it always helps to be as efficient as possible when it comes to fuel consumption. Here are a few simple ways to make the most of what you put in your tank.
Keep it filled up.
By maintaining more than one-third of a tank, your car automatically becomes more fuel-efficient. When your car is low on gas, the engine often doesn’t receive an adequate supply of fuel. This is partly due to the increased splashing of gas within the tank that takes the fuel supply away from the tube that leads gas from the tank to the motor. So, it only makes sense that lacking a consistent supply of gas will make your engine less fuel-efficient. Although it could be argued that having a full tank of gas weighs a car down more, the advantages of having a full gas tank far outweigh any disadvantages.
Have your tires inflated to the proper level.
Approximately half of the tires on the road are underinflated. This leads to wasted fuel and increased wear and tear on your tires. By checking your tire pressure and the tread of your tires at least once per month, you’ll not only make your vehicle more fuel-efficient, you’ll also be traveling more safely.
Replace air filters.
When the air in your engine gets plugged up with dirt and other rubbish, your engine has to work harder, which makes your car burn more fuel. Replacing your air filter on a regular basis can increase your gas mileage by up to 10 percent, so it’s a good idea to check your air filter when it’s time to change your oil.
Use the oil that’s right for your vehicle.
Not all oil is the same, and using the oil that your vehicle’s manufacturer recommends can improve your gas mileage by 1 to 2 percent. The bottom line is: Use the oil that is meant for your vehicle, and it will pay off.
Cruise at 55 miles per hour.
A majority of the energy needed to move a vehicle is used overcoming aerodynamic drag, otherwise known as moving air out of the way. Aerodynamic drag increases as you increase your speed, as jumping from a cruising speed of 65 miles per hour to 75 miles per hour uses up about 20 percent more fuel. Reducing your speed from 65 to 55, on the other hand, requires around 10 percent less fuel. Attempt to anticipate changes in traffic flow to allow yourself to ease into stops and starts, as driving at a consistent pace also increases fuel efficiency.
Don’t let your car warm up for too long.
On a cold winter day, it’s important to give your car plenty of time to warm-up. Although as nice as it is to get into a warm car on a cold morning, letting your engine idle for too long is a waste of fuel. Once your car has warmed up a bit, begin your drive as soon as possible, making sure to ease your car onto the road until it reaches its proper operating temperature.
Use your air conditioner in moderation.
If you live in Arizona or another desert-like climate, you should run your air conditioner until it explodes (not literally). However, if you live in a more temperate climate, only use it when you absolutely need it. With the exception of the hottest summer days, rolling down the windows and letting in the summer breeze is generally enough to cool off your car.
When your air conditioner runs, your car’s fuel-efficiency drops by between 10 and 20 percent. The only exception to the “windows down and AC off” rule is when you’re driving at high speeds. When you hit the freeway, roll up the windows and crank up the air. Why? While the air conditioning will use more fuel, so does the increase in drag and airflow obstruction caused by an open window. As a rule, though, natural air is better for you and more efficient. So, with the exception of all of the desert-dwellers, try cracking a window or vent before using the air conditioner.
Use your gears properly.
To maximize fuel-efficiency, drive in the highest gear possible without stressing the engine. It has been found that a car driving 38 miles per hour in third gear uses over 25 percent more fuel than if it is driven at the same speed in fifth gear.
Turn off your engine.
While stopping and restarting your engine can be very inefficient, if you plan on stopping for more than a few minutes, shut your engine off. It serves no purpose to let your car idle if you know you’re going to be waiting for a while, so turn it off whenever you get the chance.
Don’t top off your gas tank when you fill up.
When you’re at the pump, it can be tempting to add that little extra bit to get to an even price or just to feel more efficient. Especially on hot summer days when gasoline warms up and expands, it’s best not to partake in this habit. Not only does it cost you slightly more money upfront, it’s also likely that your car won’t use any of this extra gas anyway. Once the gas pump shuts off, most of what you pump will become harmful gasoline vapors that dissipate into the air.
Properly tighten your gas cap.
If gas escapes from your tank, it will evaporate. By consistently neglecting to properly fasten the gas cap on you gas tank, you could be wasting money every time you fill up. Improperly tightened, missing, and damaged gas caps lead to about 150 million gallons of gas vanishing annually, literally evaporating into thin air. By ensuring that your gas cap is properly tightened every time you fill up, you’ll limit the amount of gas that disappears from your tank. When you fill up also makes a difference — early in the morning and late in the evening are best, because it is generally at these times that gasoline is the densest.
There are many steps you can take to ensure that your vehicle is as fuel-efficient as possible. Most of these steps are just basic periodic maintenance and, if done consistently, can make a huge difference in how efficient you are when you hit the road.