How to Save Money on Gas Mileage --
Top 10 Tips

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Last updated August 9, 2016 (originally published March 2, 2012)
By Charlie Higgins and Drew Higgins, Contributing Columnists

Let’s face it -- gas prices are not what they used to be. The average gas
price across America now, in early 2012, is $3.57. In some parts of the
country such as California, it even tops $5.00.
Ouch! For dozens of
reasons that would require a long report to fully analyze, fuel just isn’t
cheap like it used to be, and the situation is not likely to change anytime

But did you know that there are ways to save money by maximizing
your gas mileage? A lot of money, in fact.

According to a 2004 study conducted at Carnegie Mellon University in
Pittsburgh, merely adjusting the air pressure on your tires could save
you up to $432 a year. Improving your gas mileage also helps the
environment, as less carbon dioxide is emitted from your vehicle.

Maybe you’ve heard some of these tips but figured they were just
urban myths or inventions not based on real evidence. This may be the
case with some of the things you’ve heard, but the following strategies
are not mere gimmicks or unfounded claims – they’re based on
scientifically supported facts!

Here are the top ten tips for how to save on gas mileage:

Top Ten Tips To Save On Gas Mileage

1. Go Easy On The Breaks

A 1994 report published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
says that avoiding “jackrabbit” starts is an important factor in efficient
fuel economy.

Anticipate your stops to avoid slamming on the breaks, and accelerate
gradually whenever possible.

Avoid High Speeds

Did you know driving at high speeds limits your car’s fuel efficiency?
While there are certainly times when highway driving is unavoidable,
most cars achieve better fuel efficiency at slower speeds.

According to a 2011 University of Nebraska-Lincoln report, gas mileage
decreases as an automobile travels over 60 mph.

Keep Your Tires Properly Inflated

According to data collected by the US Department of Energy in its
Energy and Environmental Analysis  conducted in 2001, drivers can
improve their gas mileage by up to 3.3 % by keeping their tires inflated
to the right pressure. Check the owner’s manual or your mechanic for
the recommended tire pressure for your car.

Use Air Conditioner Only When Necessary
Unless your really suffering the summer heat, your air conditioning
should be turned off or placed on the economy setting at all times.
Doing so will save you energy and gas.

Keep Your Car’s Exterior Clean

Believe or not, debris such as dirt, bugs and mud on your vehicle’s
exterior can contribute to reduce fuel efficiency in the long run,
according to an article published by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln
in 2011. The reason is simple. Dirt on the outside increases the drag
from friction as air moves over your car when you drive.  Keeping your
car clean makes it more aerodynamic and you get better gas mileage

Remove Unnecessary Wind Resistance

When we think of aerodynamics, we often think of little model airplanes
in wind tunnels. But aerodynamics is a big deal for cars too, and
impediments to the flow of air around the car cause the engine to run
unnecessarily hard.

While things such as antennas generally are acceptable, many people
make it a habit of driving around with roof racks or bike mounts even
when they’re not carrying any gear on them.

Reporting by the Alliance to Save Energy details how removing
unnecessary wind resistance helps your mileage. If you can take the
extra time out to take these mounts down, you’ll be surprised at the
amount of gas you’ll save.

Keep Your Car Tuned Up

Want better gas mileage? Keep your car tuned.   A 2005 report by
Danny Parker of the Florida Solar Energy Center said that an
automobile in peak condition will get to 20 percent better gas mileage
than one that has not been maintained properly.

Control The Weight of Your Vehicle

Carrying extra heavy loads can really add to your fuel costs, according
to a study conducted by the EPA in 2011, which says an extra 100
pounds in a vehicle can reduce fuel economy by up to 2%, with smaller
vehicles being affected more.

So, if you've got a lot of junk in your trunk even when you're using
your car to commute, clean out your trunk to save on gas.

Think twice the next time you decide to keep your golf clubs in your
trunk even during the week.

Reduce Idling

Idling refers to keeping the car on and running without moving, and it
can consume up to a half gallon of fuel per hour, according to the EPA.
Turn off your engine if you expect idling time to last more than a few
minutes to save gas.

Use Cruise Control

Using cruise control when driving on the highway can significantly
reduce the amount of fuel you burn. A Vanderbilt University article from
2011 recommends using cruise control to help maintain a constant
speed and save on gas.


US government's own fuel-saving website estimates that
aggressive driving lowers your gas mileage by 33% on the highway
and 5% when you drive around town.

Bonus Tips

Check Your Oil

There’s a reason your car has an elaborate system to make sure that oil
is distributed within the engine: it runs much more efficiently that way.

Oil changes are actually a funny thing; since in many cases auto shops
or dealers make money off of having you change your oil with them,
they will often recommend you change your oil more often than

So, if you change your oil as often as your dealer recommends, you
have nothing to worry about. However, if you let your oil changes go
way too long, eventually your oil will break down and end up hurting
your gas mileage. A good strategy is to check with independent sources
(who don’t make money off of your oil changes) to find out how often
you should be changing your oil. One other tip, as recommended by the
Department of Energy, is to use oil that is recommended for energy

Change your air filter

One critical part of your car’s engine that most people don’t know
much about is the air filter. Our friends at the Department of Energy
estimate that a good air filter can increase your fuel economy by
anywhere from 2 to 6 percent.

Air filters control the air going into the combustion chamber to make
sure it is pure, but once they get dirty they begin to filter in air tinged
with dirt and other material that causes your engine to run less

You can have your air filter changed at a mechanic, but the best way to
do it is on your own. Changing your air filter is a simple process, and
once you know the air filter that’s right for your car you can do it by
simply slipping the old one out and popping the new one in.

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