6 Easy Things That Increase Your Car's Gas Mileage

Here’s how to get the most from every fill-up instead.

November 26, 2015
car dashboard

1. For a string of errands, always head to your farthest destination first, and then circuit your way back home. How come? You want your car’s engine to warm up, since it’s more efficient that way. Constantly restarting a cold engine burns more fuel than getting it up to temperature and never letting it get totally cold again.

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2. Accelerate smoothly, not doggedly. If you’re merging onto the highway, take a good 11 seconds to get up to 65 mph when you have the leeway to do so. Accelerating more slowly isn’t the answer, however, because you want the car to shift through its transmission smoothly, not hold and spin out gears, which burns up more gas and also puts more wear on an engine. Think of it this way: Drive as if you have a full glass of water in your cup holder, and you want to avoid a spill. That means not over-revving the engine as you accelerate but instead using the gears where they deliver 60 percent or so of their torque (driving force) and then letting the engine upshift smoothly into the next gear. 

3. Stay in the right lane. If you’re on a straight stretch of road and can see the lights stacked up, stay in the right lane and don’t accelerate so fast that you’ll only have to stop all over again at the next light. Drive more slowly, and you’ll likely have to stop less frequently, which saves lots of gasoline. Accelerating from a dead stop uses more fuel than maintaining speed. 

4. If you’re headed downhill in a manual transmission, coast in gear, not in neutral. It’s not only safer (you want some engine-braking), but it also doesn’t use gasoline since the turnover of the engine itself keeps the car idling. 

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5. If it’s winter, remove that drag-inducing bike rack from your car’s roof. In warmer months, lose the rig that holds your skis.

6. In colder months, you may notice a tire-air-pressure sensor illuminate in your car’s instrument cluster. That’s because frigid air outside the tires cause the air inside to contract, which is like slightly deflating a balloon. Lower pressure increases drag and reduces the life of your tires, so you need to add air. Note: Always get the proper pressure by consulting the label on the inside of the driver’s-side door, not the tire sidewall, since the former is set based on the weight of your car, while the sidewall data is more generic and doesn’t factor your specific vehicle into the equation.