July Project: How to Increase Gas Mileage

With gasoline hitting, and hovering, around $4.00 per gallon, it's important to get the best gas mileage possible. You can implement certain tactics, from driving technique to car maintenance, that will give you better fuel economy.

It's All About Driving Habits

Sometimes you can't help it, but avoid gridlock or traffic jams. You should time your commute, so you travel during less busy times. Consider leaving for work a little bit earlier. If you plan ahead, you'll be able to take advantage of less traffic, and increase your gas mileage. Even this small amount of time makes all the difference.

Cruise control can be your best friend on the highway. It keeps the engine running at a very steady speed; however, don't use cruise control if you're driving in hilly terrain. Cruise control will hit the gas to maintain speeds up a hill. Additionally, you can decrease fuel economy by 20% if you increase your speed from 65 to 75 miles per hour. The air drag becomes greater when traveling at faster speeds.

Know Where You're Going

Get great directions to your destination. If you know where you're going, you'll spend less time aimlessly driving. You can save gas by not getting lost. You may want to consider investing in a GPS system.

Look for ways to reduce your wind resistance. If you have a luggage rack on top of your car, consider removing them. Less wind resistance means better gas mileage.

Parking in the shade can also increase fuel economy. The sun blazing down on your car will evaporate fuel in the tank. Also, you'll want to turn on the air conditioning when you get into the car. So, you're losing gas through evaporation and by using the air conditioning.

Take unnecessary items out of your car (specifically the trunk). If you have less weight in your car, you'll use less gas.

Car Maintenance

Keep the engine tuned for maximum efficiency. Car manufacturer's have a regular scheduled maintenance for this, so follow it diligently. A spark plug that misfires can reduce gas mileage by as much as 30%.

One of the easiest things you can do is insure that tire pressure is correct on your vehicle, and that the recommended size tire is on your car. Many people are driving with under inflated tires. This greatly decreases your gas mileage. Under inflation also greatly increases tire wear and builds up heat much quicker in the tire, leading to failure. You should monitor your tire pressure bi-weekly. Never inflate a tire hot from driving. You may want to consider picking up a small air compressor to keep your tires inflated to the optimal amount.

Changing your air and fuel filters can pay dividends as well. If you live in a dusty part of the country, replace your filters more often.

Follow these tips, and you'll see an increase in your gas mileage.

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