Driving Techniques to Increase MPG and Save Money
Gas is expensive and exhaust fumes are bad for the Earth. Everyone looking for ways to save money. Why not change a couple driving habits and see a substantial increase in your car’s fuel efficiency no matter what car you drive? This article will teach you the small, easy driving techniques that will save you money.
If you are new to hypermiling, start with these “low hanging fruit” to make an instant difference in your mileage.
- Keep Track of your Gas Mileage - Simply paying attention and tracking your mileage will get you better mileage. The same is true for losing weight. Simply by writing down everything you eat, you will eat less and loss weight. By tracking your mileage you will naturally drive in a more efficient way. Mileage tracking is also a motivational tool. Track your mileage for a couple tanks before you change your driving techniques so that you will have a base line to compare your improvement to. If you have a smart phone there are many different apps that will help you track your mileage. Of course, good old paper and pencil works too.
- Don’t Idle - Your gas mileage is 0 when idling. Many years ago it took more gas to start a car than it took for it to idle for 3-5 minutes. This is no longer true. If your car was made after 1990 you should never let it idle. Shut it off while waiting in line at the bank or to pick up the kids. If you have to idle shift an automatic transmission into “neutral”. While in “drive” the car is constantly straining against the brakes, using up fuel.
- Empty Your Trunk - Any added weight takes more energy to push/pull around.
- Take Off Roof Racks When Not in Use - Roof racks decrease the aerodynamics of your car which decreases the fuel efficiency
- Use Cruise Control on the Highway - Cruise control helps you maintain a constant speed on the highway which is much more efficient than your speed creeping up and down. No cruise control? Do your best to keep a constant speed.
- Drive like you Don’t Have Brakes - Anytime you use the brakes in your car you are wasting forward momentum that you have already paid for in gas and will most likely have to pay for again to get back up to speed. Try to slow down by coasting. If you didn’t have brakes you would drive slower and look ahead for lights to avoid racing up to a red light. Disclaimer: always be safe.
- Accelerate Slowly - quick starts burn much more fuel than slow starts. This is especially true up hill. Be gentle on the gas pedal.
- Drive the Speed Limit - Speeding not only uses more gas than going the speed limit, it also throws your timing off with a string of timed traffic lights. Timed traffic lights assume that you are going the speed limit. If you speed in between lights you will end up getting to the next light in enough time to slow down and come to a stop (killing your forward momentum) just before the light turns green.
- Make sure Your Car is Serviced Regularly - Your engine will be less efficient if it is not taken care of. This is especially true of oil changes and spark plugs.
- Check your Tire Pressure
Your tires should be filled to the maximum allowed pressure by the manufacturer. More pressure means less rolling resistance which means highly gas mileage. Remember, your tire pressure changes as the weather changes and as you hit things like curbs so check them regularly not just when they look low.
- Avoid Parallel Parking - It’s no fun anyway and the forward/reverse/forward/reverse it often takes uses up fuel.
- Windows up on the Highway, Down in the City - The Air Conditioner uses energy which makes your mileage worse. At low speeds (city) it is more efficient to roll your windows down and turn off the AC. At high speeds (highway) the drag placed on the car from rolling the windows down hurts your mileage more than running the AC.
Had some initial success? Ready to take your efficiency to the next level? Try these tips.
- Pull Through Parking Spaces - Pull through a parking space to the next one so that you can simply drive straight out instead of reversing and then pulling forward out of the spot. You may need to park farther away in the parking lot from your destination to find a place to do this.
- Drive Less, Batch Your Errands - Doing all your errands in own outing my be exhausting for you but it saves miles and gas.
- Drive Less, Map Your Errands - Before you start your car, consider the route you will take to complete your errands. Is it the most efficient? Extra tip: do the furthest away errand first. This will give your car time to warm up before you have to stop.
- Drive Under the Speed Limit on the Highway - Generally, your car is most efficient at the speed right after it has shifted into the highest gear. This is usually around 55 mph.
- Avoid Bad Weather - Driving in snow or rain increases your cars rolling resistance.
- Don’t “stop and crawl” in a Traffic Jam - In a traffic jam, avoid a complete stop whenever possible. Leave plenty of space ahead of you and watch the brake lights of the car in front as well as the traffic flow so you will know when to take your foot off the gas pedal. Accelerate slowly always leaving a space in front. Some bad drivers will pull into your buffer space which is a bummer.
- Drive Barefoot - Taking off your right shoe will help you feel the gas pedal better and make you better at slow starts.
- Don’t Use Cruise Control on the Highway - Unlike beginner hypermilers, experts know how to keep their speed constant on straight roads and how to accelerate down hills and decelerate up hills to save gas. This techniques pairs your gas power with gravity to make your car more efficient.
- Purchase a MPG Gauge - Purchasing and installing a real-time MPG gauge will make you more aware of your driving and train you to drive more efficiently.
- Compete with a Friend - Make fuel efficiency fun by competing with a friend. Don’t drive the same car? Compare your percentage of improvement in MPG’s. There are also several communities on the web in which you can compete.