Gas mileage theories are, as the old saying goes, “a dime a dozen” on the internet. And while the list of theories is plentiful, not every theory is proven to save you dimes—or even pennies. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of proven ways to increase—and maintain—the peak gas mileage that saves you at the pump.
Don’t accelerate or brake suddenly.
The same tips that keep you safe as you drive can also save money at the pump. Except for in emergencies, avoid sudden hard accelerations and braking. Unfortunately, both driving habits use more fuel and decrease fuel mileage. Try to keep
Keep your tires at the correct tire pressure.
Low or high tire pressure can cost you money in more ways than one; underinflated or over-inflated tires wear down more quickly, requiring premature tire replacement. For gas mileage, tires with too much pressure or not enough can make you stop at the pump more often. To get the most miles out of a tank of gas, check the owner’s manual or decal on the inside of the driver door for the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure. Check the tire pressure often (directions for checking tire pressure here) and add air as needed. If you can’t or don’t have time to check the tire pressure, ask your mechanic to check the tire pressure at your next appointment.
Avoid incessant idling.
Letting your car warm up may keep you comfortable as you drive, but it also drops your gas mileage. Even on the coldest days, try to avoid idling for long periods of time.
Replace the air filter promptly.
Clogged air filters decrease the efficiency of the engine and decrease fuel mileage. Check the vehicle manual for the exact mileage for air filter replacement recommended by the auto manufacturer (or ask the mechanic to check the air filter at your next oil change). As a general rule, an engine air filter should be replaced every 30,000 miles or 3 years; however, the engine air filter should be replaced more often if the vehicle manufacturer specifies or if the vehicle is driven on roads that are usually very dusty.
Don’t weigh the car down.
For prime gas mileage, avoid carrying a lot of heavy “stuff” that can add weight to the car. Though it may seem insignificant, a car with a heavy load can cost you pennies every day and can add up very quickly.
Replace the spark plugs promptly.
Because spark plugs are responsible for the spark that ignites the fuel-air mixture in your engine, spark plugs can cause your fuel mileage to drop. Ask your mechanic when is the right mileage to replace the spark plugs; depending on the spark plugs chosen, these car parts should be replaced every 30-100,000 miles. If left too long, the engine can misfire, which can abruptly cause gas mileage to drop.
Avoid storage containers.
As nice as an extra storage container or bike rack is, additional storage containers cause aerodynamic drag and can significantly drop fuel mileage. Even an empty bike rack can decrease fuel mileage, adding up over the life of the vehicle.
Minimize using the AC.
Air conditioning may be a welcome cool down on a hot day, but it also uses more gas. When possible, opt for open windows over air conditioning—unless traveling at high speeds. Keeping the window open while traveling on the freeway can reduce gas mileage and cost you more at your next fill-up.