Drive Efficiently – Maximize Your Car’s Fuel Economy

- by

Maximize Your Car's Fuel Economy
Driving efficiently and maximizing your car’s fuel economy provides some great benefits, not only for your vehicle’s long-term performance and longevity but also for the environment. In addition, it will save you money and make your driving experience safer. Fortunately, there are lots of tips and tricks for getting the most from the gas you’re putting in at the pump. We’ll discuss several here.

How You Drive and How You Maintain Your Car

Fuel efficiency is determined by two classifications of factors that work together to produce the number of miles per gallon your car can be expected to deliver. First of all, vehicle maintenance will have a definite effect on your mileage figures. Simple, regular maintenance like changing the engine oil in accordance with your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation found in the owner’s manual is one key element to proper engine care. Changing the air and oil filters and keeping the spark plugs in proper condition are also important, not only to maximize efficiency but also to improve performance and reduce harmful emissions.

Tires should be inflated to the recommended pressures and kept balanced, with wheels properly aligned. Tires with low rolling resistance (LRR tires) that reduce frictional resistance between the rubber and the road by just 10% are believed to have the effect of boosting fuel efficiency by as much as one to two percent.

At the same time, however, that one or two percent of fuel you save by using LRR tires will be immediately eaten up by simply carrying around an extra 100 pounds or so of needless weight in or on your vehicle. The secret here is simple – if you won’t need it, leave it home.

Using a roof rack as opposed to stowing bulky gear in the passenger compartment or trunk is another way to innocently sabotage your fuel economy numbers. The drag created causes your car’s engine to have to work harder, thereby reducing efficiency.

Keep Track of Your Mileage

Keeping an eye on your fuel economy and documenting the number of gallons and distance traveled at each service station stop will give you a good indication of how your current driving habits are affecting your fuel economy. Also, if you see a sudden drop in mileage this may be an indication that you’re experiencing engine some problems.

Maximizing Your Mileage While Motoring

In most cases, driving efficiently means driving sensibly, which means no aggressive starts and stops. These, along with speeding in general, are all gas wasters. They also make you a less safe driver.

Observing the speed limit, or even driving at slightly less than the speed limit, can save a significant amount of fuel. This means saving money as well. Tests have shown that driving at the posted speed limit of 55 mph, for example, will save approximately 13% of the fuel you’ll burn if you were to increase your speed to 65 mph. Pressing the accelerator to propel yourself up to 75 mph will use up roughly another 12% more than if you’re going 65 mph. With a fuel savings of 25% when throttling back from 75 mph to 55 mph, it won’t take long to realize some serious savings, especially if you do a lot of open road driving.

Here are some other tips designed to help maximize your car’s fuel economy:

  • Only use your air conditioner when absolutely needed. Rather than rolling the windows down to cool off, which creates extra drag, try keeping the windows up and utilizing your car’s ventilation system to provide a flow of air through the cabin.
  • Today’s cars don’t require more than about a minute to warm up when first being started, so try to avoid excessive idling.
  • Some cars are available with a start-stop system that automatically shuts the engine down when stopped. Once the brake pedal is released the engine is automatically restarted. These can reduce fuel consumption by as much as 5%, but you can get similar results by turning off your engine if you’ll be idling for more than one minute.
  • Parking your vehicle in the shade will allow for less fuel evaporation and also keep the passenger compartment cooler, thereby requiring less use of your air conditioner to achieve a comfortable cabin temperature.

Other Ways of Increasing Fuel Economy

Buying a vehicle with high gas mileage numbers will save you fuel and money during the lifetime of the car. Buying your gasoline at a lower price will also save money and there can often be a significant discrepancy in fuel costs from one gas station to the next. Even the same gas station may have certain days of the week when fuel prices are reduced and you should try to fill up on those days and avoid buying gas on days when the price is higher.

Sue Rogers has been working and writing for automotive industry for seven plus years and is excited to share her knowledge and experience with you.