You don't need a new car to get better mileage. A few good driving and maintenance habits can increase the fuel economy of any car.
How to Improve Your Car's Mileage
Many of these tips will not only save you money on gas this month, but will also minimize the wear and tear on your vehicle over time.
Proper and regular maintenance, paired with good driving habits are key to spending less money at the gas pump and at your mechanic's shop. It will also keep your car running longer, so you don't have to buy another one.
Check out these simple ways to squeeze more MPGs out of any vehicle.
Drive More Efficiently
Peeling out from a stop light, sudden braking and driving over the speed limit can negatively impact fuel economy. Slow down, relax and give yourself more time. It's good for your car, your wallet, and your health.
Test it out for yourself! If your car monitors mileage automatically, see how just two weeks of more relaxed driving can impact your mpg.
- Fuel Savings: 5-33%
Use the Manufacturer Recommended Oil
If you use a heavier oil than your car's motor is designed for, it could cut into your fuel efficiency. Many oils now contains additives to reduce friction. Look for one that does for additional fuel savings.
And be sure to get regular oil changes. This is basic maintenance that keeps your car running smoothly and efficiently. Many newer cars only require once a year oil changes. Consult the owner's manual that came with your car to see what yours requires. Then, set a reminder on your calendar, so you don't forget to follow through.
- Fuel Savings: As much as 1-2%
Keep Your Tires Properly Inflated
Under-inflated tires are a major mileage killer. Check your tire pressure every few weeks, and before all major trips, to ensure you're making the most of each fill-up.
- Fuel Savings: Up to 3%
Check Your Alignment
A vehicle that's out of alignment has more rolling resistance, and therefore uses more fuel to get down the road. Have your vehicle's alignment checked once a year. If you notice pulling, uneven tire wear or an off-centered steering wheel, have it checked sooner.
Get a Tune-Up
Pull that owner's manual out of the glove box to see what regular maintenance is recommended for your car; then, follow the recommendations to a tee.
- Fuel Savings: 4% on average, but could be much more
Replace Your Oxygen Sensors
Oxygen sensors help your car's engine run as efficiently as possible, but they wear out over time. In vehicles manufactured from the late 1970s to the early 1990s, they should be replaced every 30,000 miles. In vehicles manufactured after the mid-1990s, they should be replaced every 100,000 miles.
- Fuel Savings: As much as 40%
Check Your Gas Cap
A broken or missing gas cap makes it easy for gas to evaporate from your tank. Inspect your cap, and get a replacement, if needed.
- Fuel Savings: 1-2% (source: Napa Know How Blog)
Pick Your Tires Carefully
Running oversized tires, wide-profile tires, tires with off-road tread or high-performance tires on your vehicle will reduce your fuel efficiency. If you aren't sure what size tires are recommended for your car, check the owner's manual.
The correct tire size and pressure is also often found on a sticker inside the driver's door or glove box.
Clean Out Your Car
Extra junk in your trunk (or cabin area) is extra weight that you're paying to haul around, so get rid of it. Make a habit of cleaning out your car every month, and move that 'stuff' to the garage or house if you didn't use it in the last week.
- Fuel Savings: Up to 2% for every 100 pounds removed
More Tips for Improving Fuel Economy
- A 2009 study found that changing the air filter in a vehicle with a computer-controlled gasoline engine and fuel injection does not improve fuel efficiency – only performance. However, it's still a good idea to change it regularly.
- Only tackle the jobs that you know how to do. Refer to a mechanic for the rest.
- Always take the proper safety precautions when tackling a car repair on your own.
Estimates for 'Fuel Savings' provided by U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Transportation & Air Quality. FuelEconomy.gov.