So your car doesn’t get the best gas mileage? Can’t afford to buy a new hybrid to beat the prices at the pump? Here are some helpful tips that can increase your MPG by as much as 15%. All it really takes is some common sense and a different attitude toward driving your car.
Don’t worry if your car has 150k miles, as long as it runs properly these tips will help. First, make sure your car is in top running condition. Make sure you are not overdue for an oil change. If you have a newer car, use lighter weight oil (i.e. 5w30) or synthetic or if you have an older car with over 100k miles, use slightly heavier oil (i.e. 10w30). Ok, no problem right? Keeping under the hood, make sure a full tune-up has been performed. Check spark plugs and wires (better spark means better burn and better fuel economy). Also, check the air filter and fuel filter for dirt and debris. Anything that hinders the engines normal running cycle will hurt fuel economy by making the engine work harder than it should thus consuming more fuel than necessary.
Remember your mother or father always hounding you about checking the tires? That heckling was for good reason. If your tires are under-inflated, your car will feel sluggish both in straight line acceleration/deceleration and around curves. With a sluggish car, your gas mileage will pay the price. Keeping your tires inflated properly will let the car accelerate and decelerate much easier and allow for better travel on highways. You can pick up a pressure gauge at any car parts store for around $2 and a fancy one with a meter or digital LCD for a little more.
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When was the last time you looked in your trunk? Is it so full of random stuff (fishing poles, old clothes, a half-full coke from 6 months ago, a squirrel that made a home in your spare tire well) that you are afraid to sift through it? All that stuff really starts to add the pounds to the car. Just by cleaning out all sorts of useless stuff from the trunk, back seat, or bed (in trucks) you can lighten your car by 30, 40, 50lbs or more. The lighter the car, the less the motor must work to pull around the weight. Now, unless you really want to go to extremes, don’t go pulling out your back seat, stereo, radio, etc… just in the name of getting better gas mileage. Otherwise, those that ride with you might not enjoy your “green” reasoning.
Lastly, simply changing your driving style can add a huge % back into your tank, and with it, back into your wallet. Don’t speed just to get to the next stoplight 100 yards away, it looks ridiculous to everyone and you just wasted a pint of gas. Look ahead when driving in traffic. Harsh starts and stops really take a toll on gas consumption. Finally, for heavens sake, go the speed limit. Depending on the Cd (coefficient of drag) of your car, you are losing almost 10% MPG every 5 MPH over 60 MPH. For most cars, optimum gas mileage speeds are between 55 and 60 MPH.
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