There are plenty of good reasons to try to maximize a car’s fuel efficiency, whether it is out of concern for the emissions produced from gas-powered vehicles, or simply a desire to save money at the pump. One of the major determinants of how far gas takes you is the kind of car you drive. Lighter, more efficient cars can get up to thirty-five more miles per gallon than larger, bulkier trucks. But what is often less appreciated is two identical vehicles can deliver significantly different gas mileage, depending on how they are treated. The way you drive and maintain your car can make a huge difference over time. Here are five tips for extending a car’s fuel economy to get the most out of it.
Take Out The Trash
One of the easiest steps to take to boost miles per gallon is cleaning out extra weight in your car. If you are always lugging around gym equipment, spare clothes, books, or cleaning materials, consider evaluating if all of it is necessary. The more weight in there is in the vehicle, the harder the engine has to work to get it moving. And just like everyone needs to breathe more when working out, cars need to burn more gas when they are working hard. Studies suggest reducing the mass of a car by ten percent can boost fuel economy anywhere between six and eight percent. Unless you have a massive amount of clutter, you might not be able to hit that level of reductions. But when it comes to gas mileage, every little bit counts, especially when you are thinking about the overall performance of the vehicle across its entire life.
Keep It Lubed Up
Another must for keeping a car performing at its best is making sure to change the oil regularly. The engine oil helps lubricate the moving parts, ensuring that they don’t grind each other down. If you take two pieces of metal and quickly rub them together without any oil, they generate a lot of friction, which is significant for two reasons. The first is the parts start to wear down, and may eventually break, which is not good for the car as a whole. But the second reason this is significant is the heat produced by rubbing metal is a symptom of inefficiency. You want the engine’s energy input—the gas—to be converted to vehicle movement as efficiently as possible. If the energy input is being used to create vehicle movement and produce heat from friction, you aren’t getting the most from the gas. Changing the engine’s oil roughly every six months will help boost your car's efficiency, and will also help keep the engine healthy over the long haul.
Stick To The Plan
Car manufacturers publish a recommended maintenance schedule whenever they release a new vehicle. This is their guide to consumers for how to keep the new car performing at its best while also prolonging its life. Recommended maintenance will often involve regularly changing the oil, but it includes much more than that. When you take your car to the mechanic for its regular check-up, they will check all of the belts, power steering fluid, air filters, battery, spark plugs, and so on. If any of these parts malfunction, they can impact your car’s performance significantly, so bringing your vehicle in for regular maintenance is a critical factor in getting the most out of it. It typically only costs a few dollars to do the recommended maintenance, and following through with the recommended schedule can help you save a lot of money in the long run by avoiding costly repairs down the road.
Don't Run Flat
Despite all of the complex moving parts inside the vehicle, there are only four places where it touches the ground: the tires. These play a pivotal role in determining just how far you can stretch each gallon of gas the car consumes. One key factor is the balance between the tires. When you bring your car for regular maintenance, the mechanic will rotate your tires and check to make sure they are all aligned properly. This will help make sure they are not getting worn down unevenly, and that all of them are pointing in the same direction. But another important element of getting the most from your tires is making sure they are inflated to the right degree. Make sure you keep air in the tires so there is enough pressure to grip the road. However, if there is too much air in them, you will actually start to lose traction. This is why it’s a good idea to consult the owner’s manual and check in on the tire pressure every few weeks with a pressure gauge.
Keep the Pedal Off the Floor
The way you drive your car is perhaps the most significant determinant of how efficient it is. When you see individuals on the road slamming on the gas every time they get a green light, and then slamming on the breaks when they get to a stop sign, you are witnessing precious gas lost to impatience. Driving with a heavy foot sends more gas to the engine, which moves the car more quickly, but at the expense of fuel efficiency. The most efficient drivers gradually increase their speeds, aiming to coast as much as possible, and gradually approach stop lights and stop signs. Some good rules of thumb: imagine you are driving with an egg under the gas pedal. You can push the pedal down, but keep the pedal off the floor, or else you’ll crush the egg and have yoke all over your carpet! Also, avoid speeding too much on the highway to get the best gas mileage. Most cars do their best right around the sixty to sixty-five miles per hour range.