How to Get the Best Fuel Mileage Out of Your Car

February 15, 2012

Learn how to increase gas mileage by installing a fuel mileage calculator, upgrading your tires, and 8 other tips to save gas.

Fuel Gauge

There are some easy things you can do to get the best fuel mileage out of your car. Some are things you can do while you are driving, and others are maintenance issues. Either way, improving your gas mileage is a real possibility. Some of these methods improve your mileage by only a few percentage points, others by more. When you add them all up, it becomes a large increase.

Properly Inflate Your Tires
The first simple thing you can do is properly inflate your tires. They may look good, but making sure they have the right amount of air is important. This can increase fuel economy up to five percent.

Perform Regular Maintenance
There are a few different things a mechanic should look for when it comes to things that affect your gas mileage. The oxygen sensor makes sure that there is a good balance of fuel and air in the engine. Fixing a malfunctioning one can give a 10 percent increase. Air filters can get clogged and can drag you down up to 20 percent when it comes to gas mileage. Fuel injectors deal with how much fuel gets to your engine. It is common that there are leaks, and leaks mean that less gas gets to your engine. This causes poor gas mileage. Finally, dirty spark plugs which don't ignite properly can also affect the car. These can all be fixed easily by a mechanic and can drastically improve you gas mileage.

Change Your Oil
Using the manufacturer's recommend oil type in your car will improve fuel economy. The more friction that can be reduced by the oil, the better gas mileage you will get. The right oil can help improve your mileage by over 10 percent.

Turn off Your Air Conditioner
The air conditioning system is a big drain of gas. The less you use it, the less gas you burn. If you can bare a little heat, turn it off. Put your windows down to cool you off. But on the highway, keep the windows up. Open windows create drag, and at highway speeds, this offsets the advantage of turning off the A/C.

Change Your Driving Style
If you are an aggressive driver, you likely accelerate a lot when it is not needed. Many times you accelerate even if there is a car in front of you, or just to get to a red light quicker. There is no point in accelerating because it wastes gas. In fact, this kind of aggressive driving only gets you to your destination five percent faster. That's only three minutes in an hour of driving. Try to stay at a constant speed because that means no acceleration. Use cruise control while you are on the highway.

Plan Your Drive
Try to plan your routes around the peak traffic times. The more you have to brake to stop and then accelerate to start the faster you burn gas. Having a route where it is smooth sailing is not only a better driving experience, but also a way to improve your gas mileage.

Don't Idle Your Engine
Idling means leaving your car running while you aren't driving. You are wasting gas by doing nothing. If you let your car sit for 10 minutes while not moving, you actually use up about two percent of your tank. Think about it, over a year's time, you could be filling up several times more because of this and never going anywhere.

Lighten Your Load
If you can lighten the load in your car, you can improve mileage. Hybrids and other fuel efficient cars are extremely light for a reason, to help their fuel economy. Take things you don't need out of your trunk, and take away many unwanted pounds. Other things, such as your roof rack can be removed as well. The more weight you can take away, the better off you will be.

What Do EPA Fuel Mileage Standards Mean for Me?

The EPA provides fuel mileage ratings and standards to consumers in order to give a better idea of what's important when purchasing a car. Everyone wants to make fewer trips to the gas station, but these days, with the focus on the economy, dependence on foreign oil and sustainability, consumers want to know the economic and environmental impacts as well.

Bottom line to car owners is that fuel mileage ratings translate directly to money. The less money you need to spend on fuel, the better. According to Fueleconomy.gov, the average driver can save about $1,400 on fuel by purchasing a fuel-efficient vehicle. The EPA has helpful information on fuel mileage standards for different classes of cars, as well as information on fuel mileage calculators, breaking the numbers down and giving you a practical perspective on what fuel mileage estimates mean in terms of dollars. Fueleconomy.gov feature an excellent mileage calculator for you to perform your own fuel consumption calculations.

5 Technologies That Will Improve Fuel Mileage in the Future

Evolving design and technology will result in increased energy efficiency, and prevent excessive depletion of the earth's natural resources. Here are some innovations on the horizon that will improve your fuel efficiency

Compound Engines
The mechanism involved in compound engines causes complete expansion of steam across multiple cylinders. As a result, less heat is lost in each cylinder, as less expansion occurs. This reduces the magnitude of cylinder heating and cooling, resulting in engines with increased efficiency. Less fuel is consumed by cars that have compound engines. This is in addition to no adverse impact on the car's performance, engine weight or engine manufacturing cost.

Two-Stroke Diesel Engines
In two-stroke diesel engines, every power stroke has two strokes. Such engines have an increased power to volume ratio, and better fuel economy. Two-stroke diesel engines are preferred in many motor vehicles and they are a more efficient replacement for stationary steam engines.

High-Efficiency Gas Turbine Engines
High efficiency gas turbine engines have the potential of becoming the best automobile engine of the future. They require less maintenance, engine life expectancy is increased, the number of parts involved is reduced and oil consumption is lowered. In addition, engine weight is reduced, exhaust gases are clean and cool, and the operation of the engine is free from vibrations. The difficulties of starting a car in winter are eliminated, and the engine can also run on a variety of fuels. However, much work has to be done to ensure that fuel consumption and noise levels are low, and small, efficient components can be mass produced at competitive prices.

Turbo Steamer
The idea behind a turbo steamer is to use the energy from released exhaust gases to power a steam engine and give power to the vehicle. Energy efficiency can be increased by as much as 15 percent. However, a lot of research has to be done to decrease the weight of the engine, as the weight would offset any increase in fuel efficiency.

Fuel Cell Cars
There is a lot of testing being carried out to replace gasoline fueled cars, as gasoline production is estimated to decline in a few decades. A fuel cell or hydrogen cell car is one such alternative that uses hydrogen and combines it with oxygen to produce water. The byproduct of this reaction is electricity, which powers the car's engine. The advantages are that hydrogen is readily available and the byproduct, water, is a useful commodity. Hydrogen has a low ignition temperature which makes it a safe fuel to use. However, research has to be carried out to make such cars economically viable.

How a Fuel Mileage Calculator Can Help Save You Money

If you are concerned about your fuel consumption, you need to know the gas mileage of your vehicle.

Calculate Your Mileage
To figure your MPG, you can use a calculator such as the BlackBerry Fuel-Mileage-Calculator. You enter the data at the pump and it has a history screen that lets you track your fuel consumption trends. You can also calculate your MPG with an online calculator, or do the math on your own (number of miles traveled, divided by the number of gallons of gas consumed = your gas mileage).

After you calculate your MPG, keep records to look for trends. Knowing the trends will save you money because it can help you become aware of your driving habits.

What to Look For
For example, if you take a certain route to work each day, check your MPG. Compare that with your MPG when taking an alternate route. If you get better mileage on the alternate route, you will save money by taking it instead of the one you have been using. Compare other driving habits. Avoid rapid acceleration and braking, or remove excess weight in the vehicle (an extra 100 pounds out of your car could reduce your MPG by as much as two percent). Compare your MPG when using cruise control or overdrive gears, and when you avoid excessive idling.

You can also compare the MPG with another car you may own and decide that one has the better rating. You can discover if you get better MPG when you drive at a different time of day, or day of the week. Compare your MPG with the fuel you use. Is it true that a higher octane gets better MPG, and if so, is there a savings? In addition, if your car's MPG suddenly changes for no apparent reason, that's a clue your car needs a tune-up, or there could be a problem with the engine. If fixed early, it could save costly repairs later.

Using a fuel calculator can help you find out your car's gas mileage trends, and that can save you a lot of money in fuel costs.

How a Fuel Consumption Display Can Help Increase Fuel Mileage

A fuel consumption gauge, like one sold by Scan Gauge, will show you how driving habits are affecting how your car uses gas.

See Your Gas Use in Real Time
A fuel consumption display is typically easy to install, and can be placed in almost any car made after 1996. Installing a fuel consumption display can help you save up to 15 percent in gas use because it will instantly tell you about a car's fuel economy. You can immediately see which driving styles get you the best gas mileage. A fuel consumption display gathers this information from the car's injection timing. The longer the injectors are open, the more gas is let out and used.

Put Your Driving Habits on a Diet
Using a fuel consumption display is like eating food while standing on a scale. The same idea is true when you use a display. When you see the impact your driving style has on your car's fuel use, you'll be more thoughtful about how you use the accelerator. A fuel consumption display, however, only measure gas economy and consumption. It doesn't take into account statistics such as breaking, which can make a big difference in how much fuel a vehicle uses.

High Fuel Mileage Tires

Getting high fuel mileage can actually be dependent on the tires you have on your car. Typically, the tires on your car when it's new are fuel efficient tires. That is because the manufacturer wants to show you what they said was true about their fuel economy ratings. However, after you replace your tires, those are often of lesser quality and offer lower fuel mileage. Instead, new fuel efficient tires are made by the top companies like Goodyear, Michelin, Firestone, etc. These tires work by lowering the rolling resistance of the tire itself. Rolling resistance is the force needed to keep your car going at a constant speed. The more force you require, the more gas you use up. This less resistance your tires create, the more fuel efficient your car is. Fuel efficient tires are just as safe as regular tires, so don't worry about sacrificing traction for results. The actual fuel efficiency improvements will vary from tire to tire. Usually, for every ten percent of rolling resistance eliminated, there is a two percent fuel efficiency increase. These tires cut down the resistance by at least twice that, so they should improve your fuel economy by at least four to five percent.

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