As we write this, it’s impossible to find a place in America where the average price of gas is under $3.75. That’s what you’re paying if you live in Arkansas. Head west and you’ll find all-time high gas prices in California, where you’ll pay north of $5/gallon.
There’s no indication when the nationwide gas prices situation is going to end, and a number of reasons why gas prices are going back up. But even in better times, people look for ways to get better gas mileage.
In this guide, you’ll find a number of ways to get better gas mileage, from changes to your driving habits to simple mechanical repairs.
1. Find a vehicle with fuel efficiency
The road to saving gas might begin with your choice of car. While there are many everyday things you can do to — inadvertently — decrease fuel efficiency, it’s important to think about gas mileage when purchasing a car.
2. Slow down for better fuel economy
You can improve fuel economy by slowing down. Gas mileage efficiency drops when you go above highway speeds 50 mph. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, for every five miles per hour above 50, motorists lose about 22 cents for every gallon of gas.
3. Change your air filter
Some studies show that replacing a clogged cabin air filter can improve fuel efficiency by as much as 14 percent.
Clogged cabin air filters mean there’s less air getting to your engine, which affects its performance. You can ask your mechanic to help with changing your dirty air filter or read this guide on installing a replacement cabin air filter yourself.
4. Check for low air pressure in your tires
Your fuel consumption can increase when tire pressure is low. The Department of Energy says Americans waste 1.2 billion gallons of fuel each year by driving on underinflated tires. Checking your owner’s manual to see that your car has proper tire pressure will help you ensure you’re not wasting fuel.
5. Use your cruise control
Knowing when to use — and not use — your cruise control can make a difference when you’re trying to save gas. For example, it’s best not to use it when traversing hilly terrain. Proper use of this function can improve your fuel economy by as much as 14 percent.
6. Have you checked your spark plugs lately?
Bad sparkplugs can decrease the fuel economy of a vehicle by as much as 30% and cost drivers as much as 94 cents a gallon. If you’ve found that your car’s gas mileage isn’t what it once was, you may want to make sure your spark plugs are doing their job.
7. Cut back on premium gas
Unless your car absolutely needs premium gasoline — and in most cases, it’s a recommendation, not a necessity — you might want to consider switching to regular fuel, a move that can save you anywhere from 20 to 40 cents per gallon.
8. The benefits of the ECON button
We’ve seen conflicting reports about ECON (or in some cars, ECO) button found in many late-model vehicles. Dealership websites sing their praises, saying this function optimizes air conditioning, cruise control, and throttle response to help drivers keep from wasting gas.
Consumer Reports was a bit soberer, arguing its value, at least in several of the models it tested, lies in bringing up a consumption display that shows drivers their vehicle’s fuel usage in real-time.
9. (Don’t) put the pedal to the metal
If your style of driving involves racing between stoplights, you may want to reconsider in hopes of saving on fuel costs. Speeding up, breaking, and then rapidly accelerating again burns fuel needlessly, and can negatively impact fuel economy by as much as 30 percent.
10. Map out your route
Plot your route before you leave home to avoid peak traffic and figure out a way to combine errands — for example, dropping off your dry cleaning next to a supermarket — to avoid unnecessary driving.
11. A lighter car is a faster car
Every 100 pounds you add to your car, especially smaller vehicles, can reduce your gas mileage, causing you to spend up to 3 cents more per gallon. When dealing with high gas prices, shedding some excess weight can help you save.
12 Avoid idling
It costs you less fuel to restart a warm engine than to idle your car for half an hour. If you know you’re going to be stopped for longer than a minute, shut your engine off (assuming it’s safe to do so).
13. Invest in a gas card for your business
Business gas credit cards help you track gas expenses for your business while earning rewards and cashback
14. Gas savings apps
15. Avoid tolls
Google lets you search for routes to help you avoid tolls, which not only saves you money but saves on fuel as well, as you’ll avoid stop-and-start traffic. If you can’t avoid toll routes, consider using an “EZ-Pass” style device that lets you zip through toll booths.
16. Lower diesel costs
With the national diesel average spiking, it’s worth saying a few words about how businesses can lower diesel fuel costs, such as using truck stops at the top of a hill when possible or maintaining a longer following distance.
18. Shop around
Do you live near the border of a neighboring state? Consider crossing state lines if gas prices or cheaper. For example, as we write this, the average price of gas in Kentucky is 20 cents lower than what people in Indiana are paying.
19. Cut back on your AC use
Reducing your air conditioner use can help you save gas, as the AC does cause your car to burn fuel. But the idea of shutting off your AC completely and opening the windows isn’t that effective, especially when driving at highway speeds.
That’s because open windows increase wind resistance, making your car work harder. Once a car is cooled off, it’s going to stay cool. Park in the shade when possible to help keep it that way.
What speed gives you the best gas mileage?
There’s no precise speed that gives you better gas mileage, although you use more gas as your car begins to exceed 60 mph.
At higher speeds, your car needs to deal with wind resistance and rolling resistance, which means your fuel efficiency will begin to drop.
What can worsen gas mileage?
There are many things that can make your car less fuel-efficient. Have your mechanic look for:
- Dirty, clogged or broken fuel injectors
- Dirty oxygen sensors
- Improper alignment
- Dirty air filters
- Worn out or stuck breaks
- Improperly inflated tires