Gas is expensive. It’s also the most common recurring cost that car owners have by far. If you’re like most Canadians, you’re probably at the pump once or twice per week filling up your gas tank. It just never seems to last long enough, does it? At Car Digest, we want to help you get as much out of your gas as possible so that you can spend less time and money at the pump.
But what can you do to get the most optimal gas mileage out of your car?
To make it easy for you to increase your car’s mileage, we’ve come up with a list of the best tips and tricks that you can do yourself. We aren’t going to talk about making any serious modifications to your car or anything—just easy-to-use tips that will improve your car’s mileage immediately.
Let’s get started!
What Is Gas Mileage?
Gas mileage goes by a number of different names—fuel economy, fuel mileage, mileage, etc.—but it all comes down to one thing: how many miles your car can travel per gallon of gas. This is where the common term miles per gallon (mpg) comes from.
In a more technical sense, gas mileage is a way for automakers to tout how efficient their vehicles are at burning fuel relative to how far they can travel. If your car can get 25 mpg, for example, that means that for every gallon of gas in its tank, you can drive it for 25 miles. So, a 15-gallon fuel tank would enable you to drive around 375 miles between fill-ups.
With how expensive gas can be and how much most people dislike heading to the gas station to fill up, cars have become more and more efficient over the years. But there are certain habits that you can do yourself to increase your car’s fuel economy even more.
Tips for How to Get Better Gas Mileage
Below are six of the easiest ways to get better gas mileage. All the tips you see here are super simple to do and things that, with a bit of effort and dedication, you can start implementing into your daily routine right away.
Let’s get into the good stuff.
Check And Sustain Proper Tire Pressure.
You should try to check your tire pressure at least once a month and ensure that they’re set at the recommended levels. Find the tire information placard on the inside of the driver’s door or on the door jamb, and keep the tires inflated to that level. This will improve your fuel mileage by reducing the rolling resistance of your tires, making it easier for your car to travel along the road.
One of the keys to getting the best possible gas mileage out of your car is gentle acceleration and gradual throttle inputs. If you leave every stoplight and stop sign like you’re driving a Formula One race car, your fuel economy is going to plummet.
The harder you press on the gas pedal, the more fuel that flows into the engine to get your car going as fast as it can. Instead, try to accelerate at a gradual rate, even if it takes a little longer to get up to speed. This saves gas, and your wallet will thank you.
Avoid Stop-and-go Traffic Congestion.
This point is implied with the point above, but try to avoid stop-and-go traffic as much as you possibly can. Even if you aren’t hammering on the throttle each time you need to move, the constant acceleration and braking will negatively impact your overall fuel economy.
The more you need to stop and go while driving, the worse gas mileage you’ll have. That’s why if you ever look up the gas mileage that your car should be getting, you’ll see two numbers: city mileage and highway mileage. City mileage is the stop-and-go nature of driving around a city, which is significantly less fuel-efficient than driving the exact same car on the highway. The more you can avoid constantly stopping and going, the better your gas mileage will be.
Turn Off The Engine Instead Of Idling.
You probably do more idling than you think, and this just burns gas even though you’re not moving anywhere. Think about how much time you spend sitting still while you’re waiting to pick up your kids from school or during dead-stop traffic. Simply turning off your car instead of idling will lead to big savings over time.
Here in Canada, we all love to let our cars warm up on frigid winter mornings, but that drastically reduces gas mileage. Try to let your car warm up for a shorter period of time, or park it in the garage and don’t let it idle long at all—that time spent warming up just burns more and more fuel.
Clean Out The Trunk.
The heavier your car is, the worse fuel economy it will have. So it pays to remove any extra weight to get the best gas mileage possible. One of the first places to start is in the trunk. Other than the spare tire and an emergency kit, you don’t really need to carry much with you. Pop open your trunk and take out your golf clubs and all of your kids’ sports stuff.
Leave these extra things in the garage or somewhere easy to get to, and only lug them around with you when you really need them.
Take Advantage Of Cruise Control.
If you’ve ever gone on a long road trip, you might’ve looked down at your speedometer and realized that you’re at a different speed than you thought. Maybe you were going too fast, or maybe you slowed down without noticing. This is something that we all do while driving for a variety of different reasons. But this continuous cycle of speeding up and slowing down can have a negative impact on your gas mileage.
That’s where cruise control comes in. Cruise control works to keep your car moving at the same speed, automatically adjusting as necessary for hills and uneven terrain. It is great for your fuel economy and for making sure you don’t start speeding; thus, it reduces your chance of getting a ticket!
Only Haul Accessories When Needed.
Maybe you’re the adventurous type and you’ve added some fancy bike racks to your car or you’re hauling a kayak or two on your roof. Or perhaps you just wanted a bit more storage space and installed a roof storage container. Unfortunately, these types of things will all lower your gas mileage.
Engineers and designers for car manufacturers spend months figuring out the best way to keep their designs stylish while reducing drag. The aerodynamics of your car have likely been perfected by these very people. And adding these big, bulky items to your room greatly increases the air resistance that your car has to fight through and thus increases the fuel consumption necessary to do so.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that you have a better idea of what gas mileage is and how you can get the most out of your car, let’s take a look at a few of the most frequently asked questions about fuel economy.
Does driving slower save fuel?
While there is no hard and fast rule for every vehicle on the road, it’s widely accepted that driving slower will save fuel in the long run. In general, the effects of driving slower don’t start becoming noticeable until you’re going about 80 kph or faster.
Above 50 mph, you can expect to start paying up to 5–10% extra per gallon of gas for every 5 mph over 50 that you’re going. So relax, leave a little earlier, drive a bit slower, and take your time.
So what speed is best for my fuel economy?
When it comes to speed, we want to first and foremost ensure that you aren’t going over the speed limit. That said, we recommend driving at or just below the speed limit to get the best fuel mileage possible while still keeping up with the flow of traffic.
As we alluded to above, the decrease in fuel mileage due to speed starts to really become noticeable at around 50 mph or faster for most cars. So whenever possible, try to keep your speed below that, as you’ll save substantial money on fuel costs in the long run
Does cruise control save gas?
Cruise control is a lifesaver when it comes to helping you save on gas. Simply get up to your desired speed, set the cruise control, and you’re good to go. Your car will stay at that speed and automatically adjust itself as needed.
This is great because not only does cruise control stop you from speeding and keep you going steady at a fuel-saving speed, but it also prevents the inevitable speeding up and slowing down that we all do while driving without even noticing. This will further increase your car’s gas mileage.