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Holy Gas Mileage Batman!

Updated on June 25, 2013

How a slight change in driving style dramatically improved my gas mileage!

I know what you're going to say: burnouts at a dragstrip are bad for gas mileage. Well, this article is about IMPROVING fuel mileage with some driving style changes I've made in my normal daily driver car (2010 Honda Insight hybrid). And yes the hybrid is much better on fuel than the corvette.

Being an avid tinkerer, I am always looking for changes I can make both mechanically and electronically with my cars to improve things. On the corvette, I tinker to produce more power. With the Insight, I've looked for things that will improve gas mileage. So I'm sure you want to know what I've found that has has given me the best fuel mileage...I've changed my driving style. I was getting around 47 mpg before (I know that sounds good, but remember I drive a hybrid). To now averaging 55 to 56 mpg. All with out buying some expensive gadget that defeats the purpose of increasing mileage,,,,,,saving money!

Gas prices are on the way up again here,,practice good technique before you have to. It took a while to get this all into habit

All photos in this article are my personal pics. All but the first were taken with an Olympus stylus digital camera.

2010 Insight
2010 Insight

What I normally drive: 2010 Honda Insight

This is what I drive daily. I bought this car new in February 2011. Everything I had read at the time, these cars should average around 41 mpg. My average for the last year has been between 46 and 51 mpg. While this does sound good by most standards, the last few weeks I've improved to between 55 and 58 mpg.

I know this may not sound like a huge gain. I drive close to 1,000 miles a week, I have saved approximately 2.5 gallons of gas in each of these two weeks. And at $4.00 per gallon that comes to $10.00 a week, and $520.00 a year.

How to save money driving, adjust the nut behind the wheel..

Yes, that is the key. Do you really need to be the first car at that red light ahead? I don't know how it is in your area, but here the traffic lights seem to be timed with the speed limit of the road. When I was driving 5 or 10 mph OVER the speed limit, I just spent more time stopped at the lights. Going the speed limit and not using cruise control are the two main things I've changed.

The WORST gas mileage I've had in a while

The conditions haven't been favorable this last tank. So here is the worst MPG I've gotten since using the techniques contained within this article.

The overall mileage is the big number, notice the miles for the tank (what the A trip is set for). I'll fill up tomorrow, which should take between 6 and 7 gallons.

Would you change your driving style to save $10.00 per week?

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Using A/C for Gas Mileage

Now that we are in to summer, it's A/C time for me. I want to save fuel, but I'm not willing to sweat all day to do it.

From what I've heard, a great way to save fuel while still using A/C is to set it to max setting, then turn it off when the temperature is comfortable for you. Some cars actually let in heat to set a temperature inside the car. While running the A/C compressor the whole time. Not all cars are configured this way, but it's an easy trick to try and see if it works for you.

Make sure your tire pressure is correct. - Look on the side of your tires, they should have max cold pressure.

Tire pressure is very important. Not just for improving gas mileage, but also for safety. On all of my front wheel drive cars I've noticed improper wear patterns from running my air pressure at 32 psi. They all wear the inside and outside of the tire. This means the air pressure is too low. I now run the Insight at 40 psi front, 37 psi rear. Our accord is at 37 and 35 respectively. I also check the pressure of all 4 of my tires at least once a week. It's free and remember correct pressure saves money on fuel AND tires.

The point is check your tire pressure! You don't have to spend a lot on a fancy tire pressure gauges, but get one or two. For convenience sake, I keep one in each of my cars, that way I can check anytime. I usually wait until I get home to actually add air if needed, but you can do this at most gas stations today. I just don't always trust the inline gauges, they seem to take a lot of abuse. My gauges stay in the glove box of my car.

I just had to replace the tires, even though new tires do drop the overall MPG. After much research and reading, I was convinced I wanted the Bridgestone EP422. Then no one in my area had them (the 2012 Insight comes with them). I settled on the Michelin Energy series of LRR tires (Low Rolling Resistance). These were more expensive, but so far very nice. Over all I lost about 3 MPG, but a wrecked car is very bad for fuel efficiency.

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Accelerate slowly, deccelerate more slowly.

Fast acceleration burns loads of fuel. At the dragstrip, the corvette will burn 20 gallons of fuel in 10 passes. That equates to about 1/2 mile per gallon. While on the road it gets between 16 and 17 mpg. The difference is acceleration, do it lightly.

Deceleration is the key point in improving fuel mileage. Plan ahead, when you see a red light ahead, let off the gas pedal. Coasting uses very little if any fuel. A hybrid actually uses this energy and converts it to electric power to be used later to assist in acceleration. But for gas only cars, if you try to spend more time slowing down and less speeding up you save gas. The other plus you don't wear the brake pads nearly as fast.

So instead of rushing to the red light, just start slowing down sooner. You never know, the light might turn green before you have to stop. Not having to come to a complete stop saves even more fuel.

Oil in the hybrid

Real quickly on oil. The Honda Insight calls for a full synthetic engine oil, I run it in my other cars also. Our Accord saw about a 5% improvement in mileage.

Since it came in the Insight, I saw no improvement in using Mobile 1 0W20 oil. But 10,000 miles between oil changes, makes it worth the price. I know some will argue this, but that's what the Honda manual says..so I follow it.

NOT using cruise can save fuel
NOT using cruise can save fuel

Cruise control

While I used to use cruise control religiously, I found it actually hurt my over all mileage. I wouldn't consider the area I live to have extreme hills. But there are enough that cruise caused the car to accelerate very hard getting up some. And we all know what hard acceleration does to fuel mileage

If the speed limit is 45 and I'm going right at the speed limit coming up to a down hill slope, I'll let the car accelerate to 50 (sometimes more). Then let that momentum carry me up the up hill slope, and I'll let the car slow below the speed limit. The point is to avoid speeding up going up hills.

Only use cruise control on real flat areas, even with slight hills it burns more fuel.

Sooo, lets review : Driving for better gas mileage

  1. Slow down, go the speed limit (or less if no-one is watching).
  2. Accelerate slowly, and maximize deceleration. Also try to accelerate down hills, slightly decelerate up hills (let gravity save you gas).
  3. Tire pressure and maintenance. A car in proper working order gets better fuel mileage and actually saves money in the long run.
  4. Only use cruise control on extremely flat roads.
  5. Avoid excessive idling. No need to warm the car up in the morning before driving, it will warm up as you drive.

Tale of two days - One day I had time to follow the things I've talked about here.

Can you guess which day was which?

BTW, the average mileage display on the Honda Insight shows the average for when the trip odometer was set. I do this each time I fill up (for the A trip).

About the same miles driven each day

The first pic, I didn't get a good shot of the gas gauge. But you can see it is higher than the second day. These two pics were about a week apart. The second was using A/C though.

These are just a few of the driving style changes I've made - I'm not just saving money, but I feel much less stress.

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I know, that really isn't what I was writing about, but it is the honest truth. Being in a hurry didn't just waste fuel, it increased my daily stress level. I was always getting blocked by someone going (heaven forbid) the speed limit in the left lane. NOW, I'm saving fuel in the RIGHT lane. AND, I find my daily travels still take very close to the same amount of time.

And, in my constant rush, I lost one of my babies. No, not the one at the beginning, but this WAS my favorite.

Tell me how you've increased your gas mileage. Or include any tips you've found.

Tell us what you have done.

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    • TV-Tech profile image
      Author

      TV-Tech 4 years ago

      @goldenrulecomics: Thanks for the review!!! It definitely makes it easier to check. I'm still running the Honda at 40psi front. Have put around 30k miles on the tires I have on it, perfect wear pattern.

    • goldenrulecomics profile image

      goldenrulecomics 4 years ago

      I don't use cruises control but do use all the other tips. My wife gave me the Accutire gauge for Christmas so I can tell you it's definitely a good product!

    • TV-Tech profile image
      Author

      TV-Tech 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Good to know. I rarely use the paddles on mine. I have been using cruise much more recently. More time on the interstate means more cruise for me.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      If you choose to use your cruse then what you need to remember is when going up an incline in the 2010 insight automatic, DOWN SHIFT, you get more torque thus more or mantained speed with NO extra gas use. I'm getting 52 mpg and climbing.

    • TV-Tech profile image
      Author

      TV-Tech 5 years ago

      @TonyPayne: Definately miss those $1.00 a gallon days.

      Using my MPG read out is also a huge help in my daily commute. I've heard of using a vacuum gauge to acomplish the same thing on vehicles not equiped with an MPG computer.

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 5 years ago from Southampton, UK

      My Town And Country minivan used to allow me to reduce speed using cruise as well as to increase it. I used to set the trip computer on the current MPG, and try to keep it above the lifetime average. On going up a slight hill I would reduce my speed by a couple of MPH to keep the MPG up to the level I wanted, or at least as close as possible. Only accelerate when you need to, take your foot off and let cruise do the work, and coast down the hills.

      At the time gas was only $1 a gallon in Indiana. Now back in the UK it's around $8 a gallon!!! Makes you want to save money even more. I drive like an old man these days, very calculated.

    • TV-Tech profile image
      Author

      TV-Tech 5 years ago

      @KathyBatesel: Yes the trackers really make things much easier! My Insight (and the Fit before it) both have a built in tracker. You get instant feedback to help you find the most efficient range for any car. I was actually thinking about adding a module to this lens on adding a vacuum gauge to gas only cars.

    • KathyBatesel profile image

      KathyBatesel 5 years ago

      I won't say I accelerate slowly (as too many cops could attest!) but I use our MPG tracker to test myself and have found a few of these tips to be accurate. I no longer use cruise control regularly. I decelerate slowly, and I pay attention to the timing of lights in areas where they are on timers.

    • TV-Tech profile image
      Author

      TV-Tech 5 years ago

      @SteveKaye: Thank you Steve, I really enjoyed your lens as well. Yours was one of the lenses that made me want to do this one. Slightly different perspectives sometimes all more over all understanding.

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 5 years ago

      These tips really work! I've been using them and saving a lot of money on gas. Thank you for publishing this lens. It's important info that can benefit everyone.