Tips To Improve Your Gas Mileage

What can I do to save gas?

  • Walk, bike, take a bus, or carpool when possible. Use your car only when necessary. Public transportation authorities often have carpooling information as well as transit services. If you own more than one vehicle, drive the one that gets the best gas mileage whenever possible.
  • Combine errands into one trip. Consolidate trips to destinations that are near one another. Once you arrive, park and walk between destinations. Save errands for one afternoon and plan your trip so you don't retrace your route. You not only save gas this way, but reduce wear-and-tear on your car.
  • Drive your car wisely and maintain it properly. The way you drive and take care of your car can make a big difference in your gas mileage.

What can I do to get better gas mileage when I drive?

You can greatly improve your mileage by having your car serviced regularly and by driving wisely. Any of these eight points can help improve your mileage:

  • Go easy on the brakes and gas pedal. Avoid "jackrabbit" starts by accelerating gradually whenever possible. Also, anticipate stops to avoid sudden braking.
  • Avoid long idles. Turn off the engine if you anticipate a lengthy wait. Instead of idling at a drive-up window, park the car and go in. Idling burns more gas than restarting the engine. Limit car warmups in winter.
  • Avoid carrying unneeded items in the trunk. Extra weight decreases gas mileage. Also, reduce drag by placing items inside the car or trunk rather than on roof racks.
  • Avoid high speeds. You can improve your gas mileage about 15 percent by driving at 55 miles per hour (mph) rather than 65 mph.
  • Use overdrive. If your car is equipped with overdrive gearing, be sure to make use of the overdrive gear as soon as your speed is high enough.
  • Keep tires properly inflated and aligned. Periodic wheel alignments and keeping tires inflated to the maximum recommended pressure can improve your gas mileage.
  • Get regular engine tuneups and car maintenance checks. Tuneups improve performance as well as gas mileage. Check your owner's manual for recommended maintenance schedules. By following the manufacturer's recommendations, you should avoid fuel economy problems.

Tips developed by EPA. Additional fuel-efficiency tips can be found at http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/drive.shtml. Use www.fueleconomy.gov's Find and Compare Cars section (http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/findacar.htm) to find the most fuel efficient vehicle that will meet your needs. Even within a size class, there is a tremendous range of mpgs to choose from.

This article originally appeared in the 04/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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