Tips For Getting Best Gas Mileage For Your Car

Everyone wants to save gas and boost their fuel efficiency--but how do you do it? It's surprisingly easy. Here are our top five tips for saving gas.

Drive smoothly. Driving style is the major contributor to improving your gas mileage. Stay aware of traffic and signals ahead of you--what's coming up--so you can ease off the gas and let your car just coast down to a stop. That lets you avoid using gasoline you'll just waste if you have to brake just a few hundred feet later. Don't tailgate; if you're following the car ahead too closely, you're more likely to have to brake, instead of just lifting off when that car slows.

It's a truism by now, but if you accelerate slowly and gradually--"as if there's an egg between your foot and the accelerator pedal"--you'll use less gasoline to cover the same distance. If you're always the first one away from the light and the victor in stop-light drag races, on the other hand, you'll be burning more gas to get to the same place a few seconds faster. As the old saying goes, slow and steady wins the race.

Make sure your tires are inflated properly. Studies have shown that a majority of cars in the U.S. have underinflated tires--and that if every one of those cars had properly inflated tires, the country's imports of oil could be cut significantly. Most tires lose pressure slowly, over time, and colder weather causes the air to lose a small amount of volume--further lowering pressure.

Check the pressures on all four tires every couple of weeks--and if you notice that one tire habitually loses more pressure than the others, have it looked at. The correct pressure for your vehicle's tires is listed in the owner's manual, and also on a sticker usually located in the driver's door jamb. Got a tire gauge? If not, get one and keep it in your glove compartment. It will likely be more accurate than the one built into the air hose at your local gas station.

Keeping your tires properly inflated can boost fuel efficiency 1 to 3 miles per gallon without changing anything else.

Plan ahead, and leave earlier. Haste makes waste. So if you plan to leave earlier than you need to, you'll reduce your stress level significantly. But you'll also be calmer and less time-pressured, which will make you less tempted to speed. Which leads us into ...

Slow down! Keep your speed down. The amount of energy needed to keep a car at a steady speed of 75 mph is significantly higher than what's needed at 65 mph. Aerodynamic drag rises exponentially above about 40 mph, so if you drive smoothly at 65 mph--versus aggressively at 75 mph--you'll see noticeable savings over the highway parts of your trip.

Turn off the engine at long stops. Finally, if you have local railroad tracks or long stoplights, turn off your engine when you're stopped. A feature called "stop/start" is now starting to be built into some new car models, but you can do it yourself at long stops just as easily. If your stereo is running, leave the key in the Accessory position and you'll only have a short interruption when you switch back on as the gates start to lift or the light turns green. Worried about "wearing out" your starter motor or engine? Don't be; modern engines are tested to be able to start, over and over again, far more than you'll ever need.


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