Top Five Ways to Increase Gas Mileage

Gas prices are finally falling, but we'll never stop looking for ways to increase gas mileage. The most obvious way is to buy a more fuel-efficient car. Assuming you're not in a position to do that, what are some of the best ways to increase gas mileage with the car you already own?

Here are some tips:

  1. Drive more slowly. According to people who are smarter than I am, driving at higher speeds increases wind resistance by the square of the speed. That means your wind resistance at 70 miles per hour is twice what it would be at 50.

    But there's more to it than wind resistance. You also want to find a speed at which your engine will operate at maximum efficiency. For most cars, that's probably somewhere between 40 and 60 miles per hour.

    Now, is the answer to drive 50 miles per hour on the interstate? No. Just keep in mind that most cars get significantly worse mileage when they're outside of this comfortable 40-60 range. The further you stray from that range, the worse mileage you'll get.

    So, allow enough time for your trip so you won't have to drive 85 on the freeway. Also, try to take more major surface streets where the speed limit is 50, rather than the quiet residential streets where you have to go 30.

  2. Turn off the air conditioner. This is hardly a viable option if you live in Phoenix and it's summer. But if the weather is merely warm rather than hot, consider using the vent instead of switching on the AC.

    You may be tempted to open your windows for some ventilation - but keep in mind that this will increase drag and therefore reduce your gas mileage.

  3. Remove junk from the trunk. The more stuff you make your car carry around, the thirstier the engine will get. This, too, is common sense - but the trouble is that most of us have more random items floating around the trunk than we realize. You need your emergency kit, but not much else.

    Take 15 minutes this weekend to do a trunk purge. If you remove even 10 pounds of unnecessary items, you will have done a little something for your gas mileage.

    Also, if you're setting off for a road trip, pack as light as possible. You'll probably still return home not having used some of your items.

  4. Inflate your tires properly. This is one of the most overlooked ways to increase gas mileage. Check your car manual or the sticker on your car's doorjamb for the recommended pounds per square inch (psi) for your tires.

    You can check tire pressure with the gauge that's probably in your glove box, or with the gauge on the air compressor at the gas station. Keeping your tires at the recommended psi will not only improve your gas mileage, but also reduce wear on your tires.

  5. Try drafting. If you're taking a long road trip involving many freeways and highways, try coasting along behind a semi-truck. The truck will act as a wind-break for you, enabling your car to move forward while expending less of its own effort.

    The other benefit to drafting behind a semi is that these trucks tend to drive more slowly than cars anyway, which will force you to do likewise.

Got your own ways to improve gas mileage? Let us know below.

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