As the cost of gasoline continues to rise year after year, learning techniques to increase your vehicle’s fuel economy has become a critical component of saving money.  Although we cannot control the price of gas at the pump or change the range of a car’s fuel economy, there are steps that we can take to get more miles to the gallon without dramatically changing our lifestyle.  The following list entails 10 ways that you can increase your car’s gas mileage and save a significant amount of money on gas.  These steps alone can potentially enable you to notice more than a 15 percent improvement in your vehicle’s fuel economy.

1. Do Not Drive Aggressively

Driving aggressively is one of the largest reasons that people spend extra money to fuel their cars.  It is important to accelerate slowly and try to avoid using the brake excessively.  Accelerating quickly requires far more energy than accelerating slowly.  In addition, rapid lane changes entail involuntary acceleration and frequent braking.  Every time you step on the brake, you are slowing down your car’s momentum and, therefore, wasting gas.  When driving in stop-and-go traffic, try to coast if you know that there is an impending stop in the distance and after coming to a stop, it is best to gradually return to your travel speed.  Driving sensibly, in general, can potentially lower your gas mileage by as much as 33 percent at highway speeds and 5 percent around town.

2. Keep Tires Properly Inflated

When driving, it is critical that tires remain properly inflated for optimal vehicle performance.  However, when tires are not inflated enough, fuel economy can decrease by as much as 25 percent and result in an abnormal amount of stops at the gas station.  Overinflating tires is not good either and can cause the vehicle other problems.  The best solution is keep your tires balanced by having your tire pressure checked occasionally and making sure your vehicle is in proper alignment.

3. Observe the Speed Limit

Driving at excessively high speeds on the highway can dramatically reduce your vehicle’s fuel economy.  When driving quickly, there is more air resistance on the vehicle, which requires more gas.  It is important to note that although each car reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed, there is always going to be tradeoff between gas mileage and velocity.  The best way to avoid driving too quickly is to observe the speed limit and leave yourself extra time for travel.

4. Use Air Conditioning during the Summer

Many people will argue that using air conditioning during the summer can dramatically reduce fuel economy.  Although they are correct, using air conditioning not only will keep you far more comfortable during the summer months but also use up less gas than opening the windows.  Driving with the windows open, especially at high speeds, will result in significant amounts of air resistance on the vehicle, which will use up more gas than keeping on the air conditioning.  In addition, keeping the windows open while you drive is uncomfortable for passengers, very noisy, and not very effective.  However, when driving at very low speeds, opening the windows will, in most cases, be more energy efficient than using the air conditioning.

5. Use Cruise Control on the Highways

The best way to ensure that you are not involuntarily accelerating on highways is to use cruise control.  Cruise control will automatically maintain a car’s speed without the need to step on the gas.  In addition, cruise control can help ensure that you do not drive too quickly.  For these reasons, cruise control is one of the best ways to get better fuel economy when driving over long distances.  However, although cruise control can save significant amounts of gas, using cruise control in bad weather or in heavy traffic can be dangerous.  Therefore, only use cruise control on highways under dry conditions with minimal vehicle traffic.

6. Remove Excess Weight from Vehicle

Keeping unnecessary items in your vehicle is a very common way that people decrease their fuel economy.  Determining the reduction of your car’s gas mileage is based on the percentage of extra weight relative to the vehicle’s total weight.  Therefore, unneeded extra weight affects smaller cars more than larger cars.

7. Remove Racks from the Top of the Car when not being Used

If your car has a ski rack or bike rack on the top of your car, it is extremely important to remove these items when they are not being used.  Vehicle racks result in significant air resistance and will, therefore, dramatically reduce a car’s fuel economy.  The same advice applies to cars with boxes on the roof.  Driving with a box on the roof is a great way to increase a vehicle’s total luggage space, but terrible for increasing that vehicle’s MPG.  As a general rule, if the item is not currently being used, take it off your roof!

8. Avoid Idling for Extended Periods of Time

Experts estimate that idling can use up to a half gallon of fuel per hour, depending on engine size.  If your vehicle is parked, it is best to turn off your engine.  During the summer, idling with the air conditioning on will use up even more gas.  However, keep in mind that turning your engine on and off excessively in short periods of time can potentially damage the vehicle.

9. Use Overdrive Gears

Overdrive gears allow vehicles to cruise at a sustained speed with reduced engine speed.  As a result, vehicles that use overdrive gears will not only get better fuel economy but also operate a lot quieter on the highway.  When a vehicle is in this mode, an automatic transmission can shift into overdrive after a certain speed is reached, which is usually around 45 mpg depending on the load.  Therefore, for an automatic transmission, it is almost always best to select overdrive for better fuel economy.

10. Be Sure Your Gas Cap is Tight

If your gas cap is not tight, it is very likely that gas will evaporate out of your car.  Therefore, it is very important to ensure that you tighten your gas cap after every time you get gas and check your car occasionally for gas caps with broken or weak seals, since these problems will almost certainly reduce your vehicle’s fuel economy.