9 Free and Easy Ways to Improve Gas Mileage in 2018
Tips for Becoming a More Fuel-Efficient Driver
Updated January 1, 2018
While gas prices at the pumps are drastically lower than they were in 2009 and 2012 when they hit nearly $4 per gallon, filling up can still be a killer for most people on a budget. Now that gas prices are about half of what they were during those difficult times, you don’t hear a whole lot about improving gas mileage or cutting down on gas costs anymore. So, we’re writing this article to show you how to get better gas mileage, and if you’re already familiar with these techniques, let it serve as a reminder to you as we cross into the new year.
It also seems like the pressures to switch to alternative energy have decreased quite a bit. Fuel-efficient vehicle sales definitely spiked during the high gas price period but have since decreased significantly. Electric vehicles are still the ultimate goal for most automotive manufacturers, but a large selection of these vehicles that are efficient enough for everybody’s needs (and that have all of the kinks worked out) are still several years away. Until these new vehicles are convenient and reliable for the general population, there are still several ways that you can cut down on your gas costs without having to buy a tiny economy-friendly new ride. At the very least, these tips can help you save a few bucks so that you can buy something that you really want. What have you got to lose?
Being Mindful of Fuel Consumption can Add to your Gas Mileage
The first, easiest, and most risk and cost-free way to save on fuel costs is to be mindful of exactly how much gas you’re actually using. Most people simply wait until their gas light comes on, fill up their tank, and drive on without giving the amount per month that they’re using a single thought. Most of the newer car models have a meter that calculates gas mileage, but sometimes, these miscalculate your usage or they calculate a running average since you first started driving the vehicle. To ensure the accuracy of gas mileage, or if you do not have a gas mileage meter, record the mileage from your odometer before filling up your gas tank and record the amount of gas that you put into your vehicle. Then, drive until your gas meter is at the same place it was when you last filled your gas tank. Divide the number of miles you were able to drive by the number of gallons of fuel that you put into your tank for the most accurate gas mileage reading.
Set Goals for a Huge Boost in Gas Mileage
Once you’re mindful of your true gas mileage and how much gas you’re using, set goals to cut down on the amount of fuel you’re using. As we approach 2018, cutting down on fuel costs could be a great New Year’s resolution as well. The best way to do this is to try to squeeze out an extra mile per gallon at a time. Another good goal is to set a dollar amount per month that you would like to save or decide on something that you would like to buy with the money you save. For instance, let’s say that you want to buy a new grill next year that costs $300. In order to buy the new grill, you will have to use $25 worth of gas fewer per month, which is very achievable if you stick to your goal. However, sticking to your goals is often easier said than done. Ensure that your goal is reasonable. Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt to put a picture of the goal on your dashboard as a continuous reminder of what you want to achieve.
Accelerating at a Moderate Rate Increases Fuel Economy
My parents always told me that the quicker you accelerate, the more fuel you burn. Well, they were partially correct. Common sense reveals that putting the pedal to the metal after each stop will burn up your tank quickly, but accelerating too slowly also burns quite a bit of fuel because lower gears are less fuel-efficient.
Slow it Down on the Highway to Speed up your Savings
After a long day, we all want to get home as soon as possible to unwind. However, most of us pay a lot to get home a minute quicker. Rather than flying home on the highway at speeds of 80 mph or higher, cut it down to 65mph. Typically, traffic flow doesn’t travel at speeds higher than 65 mph during heavy traffic times, so there’s a good chance that you’ll get home at the same time as you would if driving 80mph because people often have to slow down with traffic flow, thereby canceling out any benefit that going 80 mph would have provided.
Avoid Hard Braking and Coast to a Stop to Make Gas Mileage Soar
This method will not only save you gas money but will also give you a little more life out of your brakes. Hard-braking (basically slamming on your brakes every time you encounter a stop sign or red light) uses energy that gasoline generates and turns it into heat that’s lost to the atmosphere. According to Brake Masters, multiple studies show that coasting to a stop can save a lot when it comes to fuel costs.
Flip the Eco Switch for Better Gas Mileage
Many new vehicles come equipped with a handy-dandy ‘Eco Mode’ switch. The Eco-Drive option places limits on the vehicle’s engine and transmission to favor fuel economy. As long as you’re cruising to your destination and not in a hurry to get somewhere, Eco Mode is the way to go. If you’re in a hurry or need some extra power, flip it off, because your vehicle will not perform at maximum capacity while Eco-Drive is active.
Go Windows Down when Driving Slow and Use AC at Higher Speeds
Both driving with your windows down and using the AC negatively impact your gas mileage, but there are summer days when you have to get a little relief. In these cases, it’s best to roll your windows down when traveling through town at slower speeds, but better to use your AC when on the highway driving at faster speeds. The reason is that drag is significantly increased when your windows are down, which requires more fuel to travel at high speeds. In most vehicles, it is more efficient to use your AC at higher speeds.
Warming your Engine in the Winter Enhances Gas Mileage
Engines are meant to be warm/hot. Not overheated, but warmed up. Studies show that warming up your engine for at least 3 minutes in the morning before driving significantly increase gas mileage.
Planning your Errands and Routes will Cut Fuel Costs Significantly
It’s amazing how wasteful we can be by not taking simple steps to plan our routes. Not only can it save on gas and reduce your carbon footprint, but it can also save you a considerable amount of time. For instance, plan a simple route to accomplish all of your errands while driving the least amount of miles possible.
The “Right-Turn Method” is another great way to save time while increasing fuel-efficiency. It’s true that FedEx uses this method. The right turn method is a path that requires the least amount of left turns as possible. This prevents you from sitting at long traffic lights and stops waiting for the opportunity to turn left.
And of course, plan to carpool whenever possible! You would be amazed at how many of your friends, family members, co-workers, and neighbors will be willing to pitch in on gas for the opportunity to ride together. As long as they’re reliable, you can save at least 50% of fuel costs in minutes by riding together.
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