This will not involved complicated engineering, you will not need to be a certified mechanic to do it, you’re not going to build your own hybrid engine in your garage (although that would be really cool–let me know if you do 😎 ), and you’re not going to have to stick any strange and expensive devices on your car. What follows are some simple tips that you can use while driving that will significantly reduce the amount of gas that you use (one technique alone will improve mileage by about 21%), then I’ve got an expert (Dr. David Rizzo, aka “Dr. Roadmap”) who’s going to cover every bit of maintenance that you need to do and when you
|need to do it (conventional advice, especially from car dealers about cars only needing a tune-up once every 100,000 miles, for example, is often incorrect). Then, I’ve got a very short and simple little trick that you can use to actually pick a specific pump at a gas station that will give you more gas than all the rest (some of them can|
actually give you less gas than what the meter reads, and yes this is legal as long as it’s within a certain range of error–I’ll show you how to avoid them). Here we go.
A few simple tips
- Many highways and major roads have a speed limit of between 55 and 65 miles per hour, and with most people knowing that they get at least 5-10 MPH leeway from cops, they’ll often do 60 or 65 where the limit is 55 and 70 when the limit is 65. If you’ll maintain your speed around 55 MPH (plus or minus 2 or 3 MPH) you will improve your mileage by 21% versus doing 65 MPH, and you’ll improve it by 30% or more versus doing 70-75 MPH. Not only that, but unless you’re doing a long distance at a constant speed on the interstate, going any faster than 55 will not only not get you there any faster, but it could actually make you take longer, here’s why: traffic lights on most highways (like, oh, say those with 55 MPH speed limits) are programmed to expect vehicles to do 55 MPH between them, and so they are timed accordingly, if you do 55 MPH you are traveling at the optimum speed and will hit, on average, more green lights than at any other speed.
- Avoid idling: turn the car off instead. Stopping and restarting the car actually uses less fuel than leaving it idling for any period of time, contrary to common belief (modern cars require very little fuel to start up).
- If you’ve got a modern car (made in the last 15-20 years), you don’t need to bother warming up your car in the winter.
- Hard accelerating and hard braking decreases gas mileage: go easy.
- Put large objects in the car or trunk as opposed to
on top of the vehicle if at all possible, it makes a big difference in drag which makes a big difference in mileage. Also, take any unnecessary heavy objects (washing machines, anvils, depleted uranium, dead bodies, etc.) out of
your vehicle, additional weight will use up a lot of additional gas in the long run.
And now I’m going to let the expert take over, check it out:
Part 1: Basic maintenance and tune-ups
Part 2: How often should you change your air filter?
Part 3: Are car modifications useful at all or complete bullshit (take a guess)?
Part 4: What effect do my tires have on mileage? Can I do anything to them to improve mileage?
How to get free gas (well, at the very least avoid getting ripped off, and maybe get some extra for free)
This is awesome, I never knew this, there is actually a little inspection sticker that the government inspectors put on each pump (they put a new one on each time they test it, which they do regularly) that will tell you how much more or less gas a pump is putting out than what its meter says it is, so obviously you want to avoid any meters where you’re not getting as much as you’re paying for and find the one that gives you the most extra. Here’s a short news story from Oklahoma about it where they interview one of these inspectors and actually show him doing the measuring and putting the stickers on so you know where to look:
Additional Resources and Further Reading
If you really want to get into this stuff and learn all the fine details, then what you’re interested in is something called “hypermiling”, which is where people use all sorts of tricks and techniques (some practical, some utterly insane) to get the most MPG out their cars that they can, and by far the most well-known site for that is CleanMPG.com – huge site plus very active forums.
Mahalo has got a pretty good article here on improving gas mileage, a lot of it is stuff that was already covered here but some of it’s new, like how to calculate your mileage.
Here’s what the government officially recommends to improve gas mileage at ImproveFuelEconomy.gov: Tips to Improve Gas Mileage.