Top 20 Driving Tips to Improve MPG
You can save money and improve your gas mileage 10% to 20% (and sometimes more) by learning to be an eco-driver - with safer, smarter, more efficient driving techniques, using the vehicle that you already own.
1. Start tracking your fuel mileage
Proven Technique - If you don't know where you started, how can you know if the things you are trying are actually helping you? Begin today tracking your own fuel mileage. Our records indicate a 6% improvement in fuel economy just by tracking performance and being aware of consumption. Knowing how much you consume and how much you are saving will go a long way to encouraging you to continue improving. FuelClinic.com is an easy and free way to track your mileage. Alternatively, some people prefer a pen and paper log book, or an excel spreadsheet. Find out how you can track your mileage here.
2. Accelerate gradually and smoothly
Proven Technique - Accelerating gradually and smoothly from a stop conserves a great deal of fuel. Fast starts, weaving in and out of traffic and hard braking wastes fuel and wears out some of the car components, such as brakes and tires, more quickly. Maintain a safe distance between vehicles and anticipate traffic conditions to allow for more time to brake and accelerate gradually.
3. Don't hurry to the next stoplight
Proven Technique - Do not attain speed unless there is room to use the momentum. If there is another stop light, traffic, etc, in the short distance, there is no benefit to attaining speed. Why pay for acceleration only to brake and waste the acceleration and gasoline required to attain speed?
4. Anticipate traffic flow and traffic signals
Advanced Technique - When on familiar roads, drive in accordance with the next traffic signal or congested intersection that you'll encounter on your trek. We've found this trick to be one of the most useful (and effective) of all. It's hard to beat the almost-magical efficiency to be found in timing smooth transitions from one set of conditions to another.
5. Slow down and maintain speed
Proven Technique - Drive 65 miles per hour or less on highways. EPA estimates a 10-15 percent improvement in fuel economy by following this tip. Also, aim for a constant speed, allowing the car to slow slightly going up hill, and regain lost speed once the hill is crested.
6. Consolidate trips
Plan ahead to consolidate your trips. This will enable you to bypass congested routes, idle less, have fewer start-ups and less stop-and-go traffic. Whenever feasible, share a ride and/or carpool.
7. Yield the right of way to aggressive drivers
Common Sense - Let overly aggressive drivers pass by at the first opportunity. It's easier that way. If you let them recklessly harangue and cajole you from behind, you may find yourself driving in an unsafe and inefficient way as well. It's better to let them by, smile and wave -- as they storm by in hasty frustration -- letting them waste their own fuel on their way to going nowhere fast.
8. Coast down hills and slight grades
Advanced Technique - Whenever you get the chance, let gravity (that mysterious and wonderful force that affects all earthbound bodies) naturally drag you and your 4000-pound car down every hill you happen upon. The beauty here is that the steeper the hill, the faster you go (and this is with your foot nowhere near the gas pedal). It's like a free ride. And as long as the road is clear of traffic ahead of you, and you're not exceeding the speed limit. Of course - keep a watchful eye, but you will love that long, free coast.
9. Time merging into traffic when entering a highway
Advanced Technique - Smooth ... smooth ... smooth. If you find yourself stopped at the end of a long highway merge ramp, waiting to squeeze in line, you know for sure that you screwed-up and just cost yourself a good half pint of fuel. We love nothing more than to ease on down a long gentle merge lane and slip effortlessly in line with my tachometer registering just barely 2000 RPMs and the faintest wisp of fuel spraying through the injectors. Silly? Maybe. Efficient? Absolutely.
10. Coast whenever possible
Advanced Technique - Oh, how you love to coast, it's almost like riding for free. Lift off the throttle early and often and just let your vehicle freewheel down the road as the engine spins barely above idle and a diaphanous wisp of fuel squirts from the injectors. Coast down hills, coast up to stop signs, and coast into parking lots.
11. Check your tire pressure
Keep tires properly inflated to the recommended tire pressure. This alone can reduce the average amount of fuel use by 3-4 percent. Under-inflated tires increase rolling resistance and reduce fuel economy. They also wear more rapidly. Check the vehicle's door-post sticker for minimum cold tire inflation pressure.
12. Gently accelerate before hills
Advanced Technique - Whenever you see an incline on the roadway ahead, begin to ever so slightly and gently accelerate. This gradual build-up of momentum lets you keep a lighter foot on the throttle as you enter the hill, and as the crest nears, lift off the gas pedal and the energy of inertia carries your car over the peak and down the other side.
13. Lift off throttle just before cresting a hill
Advanced Technique - Use inertia to your advantage. Even if it's not possible to build-up momentum before entering an incline (traffic can play havoc with the best-laid plans), still lift off the pedal as soon as possible near the peak. From this point, it works the same way--built-up energy carries you over the crest while the hardly-working engine practically idles along.
14. Slow before entering a curve
Advanced Technique - When you see a curve ahead, lift off the throttle and let friction between your tires and the road surface reduce your speed. At about halfway through the arc, gently begin to accelerate for the straight stretch ahead. If you do this just so, you never have to touch the brake pedal.
15. No idling
Today's engines don't need a warm up. Start the car immediately and gently drive away. Don't leave your car idling. Prolonged idling increases emissions and wastes fuel. Turn the engine off in non-traffic situations, such as at bank and fast food drive-up windows, when idling more than 30 seconds.
16. Close windows at high speeds
Don't drive with the windows open unless your keep your speed under 50 mph. Driving with the windows open at highway speeds increases aerodynamic drag on the vehicle and lowers fuel economy.
17. Don't drive while hungry, angry or tired (if possible)
Common Sense - Often easier said than done, we admit. Aside from the obvious safety issues, these conditions/emotions don't exactly promote patience and gentleness. If you can induce yourself into a Zen-like blissful state, great. Just do your best to avoid these situations -- grab a sandwich, count to ten or catch a twenty-minute power nap.
18. Maintain your vehicle
Maintain proper engine tune-up to keep vehicles running efficiently. Keep the wheels aligned. Wheels that are fighting each other waste fuel. Replace air filters as recommended. Use a fuel with good detergent additives to keep the vehicle engine clean and performing efficiently. Always consult the Owner's Manual for proper maintenance.
19. Travel lighter
Avoid piling a lot of luggage on the roof rack. The added frontal area reduces aerodynamics and will hurt fuel economy, reducing it by as much as 5 percent. Remove excess weight from the vehicle. Unnecessary weight, such as unneeded items in the trunk, makes the engine work harder and consumes more fuel.
20. Choose the correct oil
Use good quality oils with the viscosity grade recommended in the owner guide. Ford recommends SAE 5W-20 oil for most cars and trucks to provide the best fuel economy. Only oils "certified for gasoline engines" by the American Petroleum Institute (API) with the starburst symbol should be used.
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