Drive Smarter With These 7 Lesser-Known Tips for Maximizing Mileage

Drive Smarter With These 7 Lesser-Known Tips for Maximizing Mileage

Drive Smarter With These 7 Lesser-Known Tips for Maximizing Mileage. Image Unsplash.

Drive Smarter With These 7 Lesser-Known Tips for Maximizing Mileage

Saving gas is a terrific way to help your wallet and the environment. The easiest ways to conserve fuel are to get a fuel-efficient or electric vehicle (EV), but what if you drive an older, gas-powered vehicle? What can you do to get the most out of your car? 

Here are seven lesser-known tips for maximizing fuel efficiency on the road. 

1. Smart Driving

Better gas mileage starts with you — the driver. Take it easy on the road and abide by the speed limits. You may be hurrying to get things done, but life isn’t as fun when rushing. Safe driving helps you avoid speeding tickets and consume less fuel. The Department of Energy says your fuel efficiency significantly declines when exceeding 50 miles per hour (mph), so drive at a reasonable speed as much as possible.

Cruise control is an option most cars have to control fuel mileage. This system is best when you drive on the open highway for long stretches. You don’t need to constantly accelerate and decelerate, making you up to 14% more fuel efficient if the roads are flat. 

Another tactic for intelligent driving is to avoid idling. Some drivers let their cars sit for a few minutes after starting to warm up. Older models may require this time, but newer vehicles only need about 30 seconds for the engine to lubricate all the parts adequately. 

2. Aerodynamic Improvements

You may hear aerodynamics in motorsports with race teams looking to maximize fuel mileage and win races. Your car might not be in the Indianapolis 500. Still, you can use aerodynamics to increase your fuel economy. 

For example, did you know roof racks can compromise your fuel mileage? The bars on your car increase drag, the resistance your vehicle faces against the air. Your roof rack interferes with the air stream, decreasing your fuel efficiency. A Car and Driver test shows a 3 mpg increase once they removed the rack from the top of a 2022 Kia Carnival. 

Another way to improve your aerodynamics is to close your windows when driving on the highway. If all your windows are down, your car is less efficient because it needs more power to push itself forward. In the summer, close your windows and use the air conditioner if driving on the highway. Turn the AC off and roll the windows down in bumper-to-bumper traffic because your efficiency decreases.

3. Watching Vehicle Weight

Automakers design vehicles to carry heavy loads. Ford’s F-350 Super Duty is awesome because it can handle 8,000 pounds in payload capacity and get work done. However, weight isn’t always great for a vehicle. In fact, you’re better off keeping the load as light as possible to enhance your fuel efficiency.

Adding cargo to your vehicle means more weight and pressure on your suspension. Your vehicle has to work harder to move all the weight forward, burning more fuel when you account for the drag your car faces. A few pounds here and there may only make a tiny difference, but the numbers add up. Every 100 pounds you add compromises fuel economy by 1% on average. 

4. Vehicle Maintenance

Cars need regular maintenance, such as oil and filter changes, but how do they correlate with your gas mileage? Maintaining vehicles requires monetary investment, but you’ll be happy in the long run with your better-performing car. 

First, check the air filter. This component ensures the dirt and dust entering your car don’t touch your engine. After a while, the filter becomes dirty and needs replacing. Plus, a dirty filter means your engine isn’t getting clean air for combustion, leading to a less efficient motor. You don’t want your engine to work harder than necessary, so change your air filter at least once a year.

Another consideration for fuel mileage is the oil you use. Look for low-viscosity oil on the shelf because it’s thinner and creates less friction for your engine. Friction is a huge energy waster for your motor, so keep things running as smoothly as possible. 

5. Tire Upkeep

Nearly every major component of your vehicle affects fuel mileage, so optimizing every section is best for your fuel economy. Next, look at your tires because they play a more prominent role than you think. 

Your front tires typically wear faster than the rear because they work harder. If you don’t rotate them, your vehicle could fall victim to tire misalignment. Tire misalignment decreases fuel mileage and causes premature wear because the car must work harder to maintain traction on the road. Thus, you’ll burn more fuel. 

Maximize your mileage by rotating your tires every 5,000 miles and checking the psi about once a month. Seasonal changes can significantly affect your tires, so prioritize airing your tires ahead of temperature drops. Cold air is denser, meaning it occupies less space in your tires. Drastic changes cause tire deflation, so get the air pump and psi gauge ready. 

6. Eco-Friendly Mods

Maintaining your parts and pieces is fantastic, but what if you could mod your vehicle to improve fuel efficiency? Luckily, a few gadgets on the aftermarket help you out.

First, consider an engine block heater. This device works best in cold climates, so residents of Minnesota and Alaska can rejoice. Engine block heaters prepare your car by heating the engine before your keys go in the ignition. Starting your vehicle in cold weather compromises fuel efficiency by requiring more power to crank, so engine blocks save the day when snow piles high.

Renewable energy is all the rage nowadays, with solar panels and wind turbines popping up worldwide. You usually associate these systems with buildings, but you can harness renewable power for your car through the sunshine. Solar-powered ventilation circulates air in your vehicle and keeps it cooler while turned off. It won’t feel like an ice rink, but the temperature will be more manageable when you burn your hand on the seatbelt on those hot summer days.

7. Smartly Fill Your Tank

Choosing between regular and premium gas won’t significantly impact your fuel efficiency as much as it does your wallet. Stick to your manufacturer’s recommendations on what pump you should pick at the gas station. However, you might not have thought of what time you can fill up your tank to optimize fuel efficiency.

Cooler temperatures create denser gas, meaning you get more bang for your buck at the pump. This strategy is helpful in the summer when many areas see drastic changes in the morning and afternoon temperatures. Take your car to the pump at night or dawn to avoid the sweltering heat. Be careful at night because the last thing you want is to spill diesel on your hands and ruin your favorite pair of clothes. 

Enhancing Efficiency and the Environment

If you have a car, paying for gas is part of your monthly budget. Fuel prices can soar in the summer, so being as efficient as possible with your vehicle is critical. 

Fuel efficiency starts with your driving habits, so drive with your eyes on the road and your speedometer. Minor changes like airing your tires and filling up at night make a big difference in the long run. Use these seven lesser-known tips to help your bank account and the environment.

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