Easy Tips for Increasing Your Fuel Efficiency

By Katie O'Shea, August 07, 2015

Now that it's road trip season, it's time to consider your gas mileage for the summer months. While the warm summer months can generally help your car become more fuel efficient, it's important to consider how you can improve your fuel efficiency even further.

By making your car more fuel-efficient, you can often save some money - and some time, because your car won't need so many refueling breaks.

Below, we've listed some easy things you can do to increase your fuel efficiency.

At Home:

Believe it or not, you can start becoming more fuel efficient before you even leave your house. From the comfort of your own home you can do the following:

Research Gas Prices

As mentioned in an earlier article, GasBuddy is a great tool for finding out how much money you could save on gas. GasBuddy allows you to research gas prices across the country, so you can find the cheapest options.

However, keep in mind that if you have to drive a significant distance to get the gas, the apparent savings may not actually be worth it.

You may want to do your research ahead of time, so you'll know exactly where to look for cheap gas, but GasBuddy also has an app, in case you need to look up prices while on the road.

Check Your Cards

Some credit cards or store membership cards allow you to get deals on gas. Don't feel obligated to get new cards in order to get these perks, but if you already have these cards, you might as well start using the perks you have!

Read The Manual

Your car's owner's manual can tell you a lot about what your car needs to ensure optimal performance. Often, it will recommend completing certain types of maintenance for this purpose.

Plan Your Route

It's always a good idea to plan your trips in advance. If you know you already have to be out and about for one errand, you might as well do another errand if you can. That way you won't have to waste fuel by warming the engine up and letting the engine cool back down before heating it up again.

If possible, also plan to avoid driving when the roads are busy. Avoiding rush hour allows you to avoid burning gas while stuck in traffic.

In The Driveway:

Clean Your Car

The heavier your car's cargo is, the more gas the car has to use. Cleaning out the things you don't need, especially heavier items, may help your car's fuel efficiency.

Remove Items That Increase Drag

After cleaning up the inside of your car, take a look at the outside. Certain items, such as roof racks (and anything that may be attached to them), could be reducing your car's fuel efficiency.

Things attached to the outside of your car reduce your fuel efficiency by increasing the amount of drag, or wind resistance, that your car is experiencing at any given time. The car has to work harder to move against the wind if the car has items attached to it, particularly if the items are attached to the roof. That means the car would have to use more gas to move the same distance as a car with nothing on top of it would.

According to fueleconomy.gov, if you're planning on stowing stuff on the outside of your car, a cargo box on the back of your car is better for your fuel economy than a box on your roof.

When you don't need to be carrying extra stuff on the outside of your car, consider removing the carriers.

Give Your Car A Checkup

Now's the time to put into practice the car maintenance techniques that you read about in your owner's manual.

Take the time to check your tire pressure. Keeping your tires at the recommended pressure level helps reduce resistance, allowing the car to move without using too much fuel. Plus, it's safer and helps your tires last longer, according to fueleconomy.gov.

If it's time for you to get an oil change, consider using the type of oil that the manufacturer recommends. According to fueleconomy.gov, this could also help improve your fuel efficiency.

For Electric Cars: Cool It Down Ahead of Time

If you have an electric or hybrid car, some people recommend cooling the car down while you're charging it. Doing this before leaving may help you save fuel while you're on the road.

On The Road:

Stick to The Speed Limit

Driving the speed limit helps you avoid wasting gas, because a car traveling at a moderate speed doesn't need to use as much fuel as a car traveling at a faster speed.

In general, the difference in trip time when traveling at one speed is not significantly different from the trip time when traveling at a slightly higher rate of speed. The amount you end up paying for gas, however, will be different.

Avoid Sudden Acceleration or Braking

Stopping or starting suddenly uses more fuel, because it requires more energy than stopping or starting at a moderate pace.

Use Cruise Control

If you're on a longer trip, try using cruise control when possible. Using cruise control can help you regulate your speed and, as a result, your gas use.

Avoid Idling

If you can, avoid idling for more than a minute or two. Idling, especially while your A/C is running, wastes a lot of gas. It takes less fuel to just stop the engine and then restart when you're ready to move again than to keep the car idling.

Cool Your Car Efficiently

The use of the air conditioner or windows in your car has an effect on your car's mileage. There are various factors that can help you decide which one is the right choice at any given time.

When you first start the car, try rolling down your windows. Let your car's engine warm up before you start the air conditioner. If you try to put the A/C on full blast when you first start the car, you'll use up a fair bit of fuel, and it won't cool down your car that quickly.

You may not even need the A/C on some days. You might consider keeping the windows down if it's not too hot and you're traveling on suburban roads. If you're driving on the highway, it usually makes more sense to use the air conditioner. Rolling down the windows at such high speeds means that your car will be more affected by drag.

When you do use the A/C, try to avoid setting the temperature to very low temperatures, if possible, in order to save fuel.

Park in The Shade

Keeping your car in a shaded area can help prevent it from heating up too much. That way, when you get back in the car, you won't have to crank the A/C up too many notches, wasting fuel. Parking in the shade also should help reduce the amount of gas lost to evaporation, which is what happens when your car heats up.

At The Tank:

Refuel Strategically

Get gas at times when the cost will be lowest. In general, prices tend to be lowest on Wednesdays. Prices tend to be highest on weekends, generally starting on Thursdays.

People also recommend refueling before the day heats up. Getting gas when it's cool outside means that the gasoline will be denser. That means that, even though you would be filling up your tank with the same amount of gas, the gas may be able to keep your car fueled for slightly longer than it would if the temperature were warmer.

Choose the Right Gas

Buy the type of gas that your car requires. Buying any other type means that your engine won't run as effectively as it could.

Don't Top off The Tank

Topping off the tank, continuing to attempt to fill the tank after the pump hits the automatic stopping point, is actually not helping you pack in more miles before you have to hit the gas station again.

Overfilling the tank means that you risk having it spill out into the emissions system, causing the car to not run as effectively and to get worse mileage.

Keep The Cap Secured

Not having your gas cap fully secured can lead to wasted gas. Make sure that the cap is on tight so that your gas won't start to evaporate.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of OneMain. The information in this article is provided for education and informational purposes only, without any express or implied warranty of any kind, including warranties of accuracy, completeness or fitness for any particular purpose. The information in this article is not intended to be and does not constitute financial, legal or any other advice. The information in this article is general in nature and is not specific to you the user or anyone else. The author was compensated by OneMain for this post.

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