For many Americans, celebrating the 4th of July weekend involves family, friends, fireworks, and a road trip. Already it seems like there are fewer cars on the road than in years past, as motorists are naturally concerned about fuel costs. There are many ways to enhance fuel economy, making modifications in driving technique to eke out a mpg or two.
However, the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) cautions that not all fuel-economy tips are truly worth the effort. We agree that some modifications can be taken to the extreme, such as true hypermiling, though we encourage drivers to make the most from each gallon in a safe, responsible way.
That said, NADA offers the follow tips:
Drive slowly and steadily. To improve a car's gas mileage, give yourself a few extra minutes to get to your destination, so you can
drive the speed limit and avoid rapid acceleration. This will make a bigger difference than any other strategy. The faster a car accelerates from a stop, the more gas it uses, while driving more slowly overall improves gas mileage. Also let off the gas and coast before applying your brakes to stop—this will save gas and brake wear.
Don't idle. Fuel spent idling, rather than for locomotion, is wasted. Shut off the car if you'll be idling for more than 60 seconds, though exercise extreme caution in traffic situations. Technique is best used off the road.
Keep your tires properly inflated. Keep your tires properly inflated by checking your tire pressure monthly. This is of particular concern as seasons progress and outside temperatures change. Pressures should be checked when tires are cold. Recommended tire pressures are listed in the owner's manual or on the driver's side door jamb, not on the sidewall.
Likewise, NADA dispels some popular myths:
Fill up your gas tank when temperatures are coolest. While this may have a theoretical benefit, it doesn’t have a practical one. The concern here is that gasoline expands with warmer temperatures, so a gallon of gas is actually less than a gallon when temperatures are higher. While this is true, the temperature in a gas station's underground storage tank is fairly constant. Any potential benefit here isn’t worth the mental energy, let alone modifying your schedule to hit the gas station at a less-convenient time.
Fill up when your tank is half-empty and use the slowest pump speed. Both pieces of advice stem from the idea that while gas is being dispensed, you want the most amount of gasoline and the least amount of vapors. But neither of these tips provides any significant gas savings.
Lighten your load. Sure, everybody talks about getting rid of unnecessary junk in your car to lighten your load and improve gas mileage, but when it comes to noticing a significant improvement in gas mileage, you'd have to eliminate at least 100 pounds of cargo. Good in concept, but most drivers simply don’t have the much junk in the trunk, so to speak.
For more tips from autoMedia, read: “How to get the most miles out of each tank of gas.” And if you are looking for extreme savings, read “How to improve fuel economy by hypermiling.”