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How to Improve Your Gas Mileage

If you own a vehicle, you undoubtedly know how expensive it has become to fuel it up. Short of striking black gold in your backyard, here are some things you can do now to improve your fuel efficiency and save some money in the process:

  • Don’t Be A Lead Foot – Go easy on the pedal. Stomping the accelerator wastes gas.
  • Slow Down – Lower speed equals lower wind resistance equals less fuel used. For every mile an hour above 50, you can reduce your fuel efficiency by 7-14%.
  • Use Cruise Control – Cruise Control can improve your mileage by 14% because your engine maintains a consistent speed. Avoid using in really hilly areas, though, as the constant cycling of acceleration will waste gas. And you always wind up at that awkward speed and RPM where the cruise control doesn’t know whether to accelerate or not.
  • Turn Off The Vehicle – Shut off your car if you’re idling more than a minute – AAA estimates engines burn 1/4-1/2 gallons of gas for each hour idling. 
  • Check Your Tire Pressure And Alignment – Properly inflated and aligned tires roll more easily. Easy rolling equals better mileage.
  • New Spark Plugs – If your mileage drops suddenly, you may need new spark plugs. Fouled plugs can cause irregular or inconsistent ignition, which will affect fuel economy and can eventually wreak havoc on the engine.
  • Remove The Junk In Your Trunk – Reducing the weight of your vehicle by removing unnecessary items from your car. Lighter vehicle makes for better fuel efficiency.
  • Use The A/C, Not Roll Down The Windows – more streamlined and modern a/c designs aren’t the drain on fuel economy they used to be.
  • Keep Up On Your Vehicle’s Maintenance – A tuneup, clean oil and filter, and a properly serviced transmission and drivetrain can all help keep your mileage the best it can be.
  • Plan Your Trips – Planning a route to the places you need to visit can reduce the number of miles driven for the errands, meaning less gas burned.
  • Avoid Rush Hour If You Can – Stop and go traffic can affect your gas mileage, and not in a good way.
  • Drive To Warm The Engine – Saves gas instead of idling to warm up the motor, and it also brings up the engine temp more rapidly than idling.

Now you may have heard the advice to fill your tank in the early morning or late night so you get more fuel “per gallon” because cold gas is denser than warm gas? While it may be technically true, the difference in the amount of fuel due to expansion is actually negligible.

One study found that when gasoline rose from 60ºF to 75ºF (15.6ºC-24ºC), it increased in volume by 1 percent while the energy content of the fuel pumped remained the same. In addition, stations store their fuel underground in insulated tanks, keeping the gas temperature more stable and minimizing expansion. 

So while it might not hurt to fill up during the coolest part of the day, going out of your way to do so won’t help as much as the urban myth indicates it might.

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