It's All About Fuel Efficiency

It seems unlikely that we'll ever see gas prices below $3.00 per gallon in America again, and with that in mind, many people are trying to squeeze as many miles out of their fuel budgets as possible.

Most people aren't financially capable of buying a more fuel efficient car as soon as gas prices go up, so here are the top 10 ways you can improve the gas mileage of your existing car.

1. Check your tire pressure.

Besides making your ride less comfortable, under-inflated tires can ruin your gas mileage. Overinflated tires can also be problematic. To find the optimum tire pressure for your vehicle, look for the specification decal put in place by the manufacturer. You can find this decal by opening the driver side door and looking to the right where the door locks into place. It lists various technical things about the car, including the optimum tire pressure.

2. Lighten your vehicle.

Getting rid of unnecessary weight in your car can substantially improve your gas mileage. Removing old golf clubs, non-emergency tools, and anything else that's not essential can lighten your car, and before you know it you'll have 200 fewer pounds to carry around. Your car engine will thank you and you'll be happier in a less cluttered vehicle.

3. Replace your spark plugs.

If your car is more than 5 years old, your spark plugs may be getting old and corroded. This will cause you to get fewer miles per gallon, and if it goes unattended too long, can cause your engine to miss, leading to further complications down the road.

4. Replace your fuel filter.

If it's been a while since you thought about your spark plugs, then it's probably been even longer since you thought about your fuel filter. A bad fuel filter will allow dirty fuel into your engine, and besides the problems that can cause, dirty fuel is less combustible, meaning worse fuel economy.

5. Replace your air filter.

A dirty air filter will suffocate your engine by keeping vital oxygen from reaching your fuel. Just like you wouldn't want to use dirty fuel, you don't want to use dirty air, because your engine needs clean oxygen just like you do.

6. Experiment with higher grade fuels.

Instead of always buying 87 octane gas, try the 93 octane. Yes, it will cost more, but higher grade fuels may allow your car to get more miles per gallon. Remember, each car will react differently, some will give you better fuel economy while others won't, so you'll have to track your gas mileage before and after the experiment. I tried this on a Honda that I once owned and got more miles per gallon proportionally equal to the amount I was paying extra for gas, so while I wasn't saving or losing money, I was at least able to make fewer trips to the gas station.

7. Don't speed.

Most cars achieve maximum fuel efficiency around 55 miles per hour, so take it easy on the interstate. The time you save by speeding is rarely worth the gas money you lose by speeding.

8. Go easy on the brakes.

It can be hard to break a lifelong habit of last second breaking, but with a few weeks of conscious effort while driving you can learn to ease off the gas pedal and let the car slow down on it's own. Not only will this improve you gas mileage, your brakes will last longer too.

9. Don't idle.

Leaving your car running in a driveway or parking lot doesn't do anything except waste gas. Since you're not actually moving you're effectively getting zero miles per gallon.

10. Check your alignment.

If one tire is facing straight ahead and the other if offset by 5 degrees, then your car is losing performance. Improperly aligned tires can cause you to lose up to 10% of fuel economy, not to mention the fact that it will cause your tires to wear down prematurely.

If you'll follow these 10 ways to improve your gas mileage, then you could save hundreds of dollars per year in gas, depending on how many of these apply to your vehicle. If you know of any other great fuel saving tips then leave a comment below.