Get Better Gas Mileage in Your Car

Save on gas costs for your car
Save on gas costs for your car | Source

High Prices

These days, nearly everywhere you can participate in or overhear conversations bemoaning the high cost of gasoline. No matter where you live, what kind of car you drive, what kind of liquid fuel it uses or what you call it, you can use these tips to better your gas mileage and save yourself hundreds of dollars over the course of time.

You might need to visit the filling station less often, and buy less gas when you do. Granted, this is not sudden fast money like winning the lottery or getting your tax refund check, but the savings will add up. Remember the old adage, "A penny saved is a penny earned." Although these days, the advice might more properly refer to dollars than pennies.


It should go without saying that keeping your car in tip-top mechanical shape will go a long way toward maximizing your fuel economy, but it is surprising how many people put this task on the back burner, and just never get around to doing regular engine tune-ups until forced to do so by outside circumstances.

Here, in California, we have very strict smog/emissions regulations, and cars must be inspected every two years, and repairs made if the vehicle does not pass the test. So, in a sense, we are "lucky" that we are forced at least bi-annually to see that our cars are tuned properly, pain in the neck and wallet though it is.

The other option is to simply drive until something goes wrong, and you find yourself stranded somewhere, usually at the worst possible time. At that point, you'll be spending a lot more money than you would have if you had kept the car tuned up to begin with.

Maintenance Items to check regularly, outside of scheduled tune-ups, include:

  • Check the oil level
  • Check the coolant level
  • Check the transmission fluid level
  • Check the battery level if it is not a sealed type; in any case, check for corrosion around the terminals, and clean if present. If you need to add fluid to a battery, be advised, use only distilled water!!!
  • Don't run out of gas! With modern fuel-injected cars, this will result in a very expensive repair job. Keep your tank at least 1/4 to 1/2 full at all times.

Not only is maintenance important to help your fuel economy, it is also a safety issue. Mechanical breakdowns on the road can put you in serious jeopardy from other traffic, especially if it is a sudden issue stranding you in the lane without a chance to pull off to the side.

Tire Pressure

Yes, believe it or not, keeping your tire pressure at the correct level for the vehicle and its load will improve your gas mileage, as well as handling of the car--a safety issue.

Take care of your tires and your wallet will thank you.
Take care of your tires and your wallet will thank you. | Source
  • Under-inflated tires sag at the sidewalls, and create drag as the car moves along, making the engine work harder--this translates to using more gas. It is also very hard on the tires, and the sidewalls will crack if this is an ongoing condition. Tires are not cheap to replace, either.
  • Over-inflated tires make the car harder to handle, and decreases the life of the tires just as does under-inflation.
  • Buy a tire gauge to keep tabs on tire pressure for yourself. That way, you'll know at once what the pressure is, and you can add air if needed.
  • Check tire pressure before you leave, when the tires are cold. After driving, the air inside will heat up and expand, giving you a false reading.
  • If you are carrying a heavy load, you'll need to increase the tire pressure to compensate. Refer to the tire's manufacturer for appropriate increases.

Properly inflated tires go a long way toward saving money at the gas pump

Driving Habits

Many things we do while driving, whether deliberately or unconsciously, affect our gas consumption, sometimes greatly.

Here are some bad habits to avoid at all costs (pun intended!)

  • Don't speed! There are more reasons than safety to obey the speed limits; the faster you drive, the faster you use up your fuel, and the more money it will cost you.
  • (But don't drive way under the limit either like some old biddy. That causes traffic jams and is actually dangerous--you can be ticketed for driving too slowly on the freeway!)
  • Don't do "jack-rabbit" starts. That's when you step on the gas so hard and quickly that the car lurches forward, and sometimes can even 'burp' the tires, leaving a minor skid mark on the road. That costs you money not only in wasted gas, but is also hard on the transmission and tire life.
  • When "warming up" the engine, just let it idle. Don't sit there pumping the accelerator pedal and 'revving' it over and over. All that does is waste gas.

Whatever the speed limit, keep to it; weaving in and out of traffic wastes gas
Whatever the speed limit, keep to it; weaving in and out of traffic wastes gas | Source

Here are some good habits:

  1. Use cruise control on long drives where traffic permits. It is much more efficient at maintaining a pre-determined speed than we humans, and it won't develop a case of "lead foot" on long boring drives. (Be aware, however, that "cruise control" does not apply the brakes; it is possible to end up speeding when going down hills!)
  2. Start up slowly and smoothly from stops. Your wallet and passengers will thank you.
  3. Shut off the engine if you have to sit and wait for someone while parked. There's no point in getting zero miles per gallon.
  4. If it's hot, lock up the car and go inside with whomever. Sitting there running the engine so you can have your air conditioner on wastes a lot of fuel. Ditto for cold weather and the heater.

Do You Perform Simple Maintenance Checks on Your Car?

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The fewer visits you can make to one of these, the more money you will save
The fewer visits you can make to one of these, the more money you will save | Source

Just In Case You've Never Pumped Gas...

The video below takes you through using a self-service gas station. I seriously doubt there's anyone today who doesn't know how to operate a gas pump, but just in case, I offer the video.

Those of us "beyond a certain age" fondly recall the days of actual service stations. Not only could you buy gas, but the attendant pumped it for you, cleaned your windows, checked your tires, coolant and oil. Most even had small service bays for minor repairs.

I wish you all many miles of trouble-free, safe and economical driving.

© 2013 Liz Elias

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Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

All good tips! I do try to practice not starting too fast. I don't have to do self-maintenance since my car isn't very old. I've had to do plenty with my older cars, though. I've had cars that used more oil than gas. LOL. Nice hub.

DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 3 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hi there, Victoria!

Thanks much. I'm pleased you aren't one of those drivers who routinely toss your passengers into the back seat when starting up. ;)

But, I must caution you--don't let your newer car trick you into passivity--you still need to keep an eye on fluids and tire pressure. Rubber is porous, and air can seep out over time, and also from any curb dings to the wheels, or damage to the valve stems.

I know what you mean about oil burners. My dad used to have one when I was young.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean

I'm surprised that they don't do the smog/emissions tests everywhere. It's good in more than one way. Thanks for the tips on bad and good driving habits. Voted Up!

DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 3 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hello MsDora,

I'm glad you found the article interesting. Thanks much for your comment and vote!

drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida

Ah, full-service gas stations with attendants included - I remember them well, Liz. Thanks for these common sense tips you have included. Now I just have to remember to use them. :)

DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 3 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hi there, drbj--

Glad I'm not the only one with a ... ummm...'long term memory.' LOL Thanks so much for your comment--glad you liked the article.

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