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9 Ways to Increase Your Gas Mileage by 40%

Updated on July 4, 2012

By changing your driving habits, you can significantly increase your gas mileage. Within the past several months, I have increased my 1995 Chevrolet Camaro’s gas mileage to 28 MPG. Compared to the EPA estimates of 20 MPG, that's a 40% improvement! For my current driving level (800 miles @ $3.25/gallon), this saves me just over $37 per month on gas. Here's how...

1. Keep Up Your Momentum

When you’re sitting idle with your car running, guess what your gas mileage is… 0! So the idea here is to come to a complete stop as little as possible. It takes a lot more gas to accelerate a car from a dead stop than one that’s moving even at 5 MPH.

Next time you’re in traffic, give the car in front of you a 2-3 second buffer. As soon as they apply the brakes or you see the light ahead turn red, feather the brakes and start coasting. Try to time it where you can keep as much momentum as possible by the time the car in front gets going again. By keeping your car rolling, you can spend less time getting 0 MPG (and save your brakes)! An engineer single-handedly eliminated stop-and-go traffic with this technique.

2. Accelerate Slowly

According to the good ol’ physics equation: Force = Mass x Acceleration, greater Acceleration requires greater Force. More force means more gas. So instead of punching the gas pedal, try to gently increase your speed. Use your current momentum to help propel you faster instead of force from your engine. When you're at a complete stop, let of the brake for a second before hitting the gas. The bit of extra momentum created naturally by your car will help you conserve fuel.

3. Take Stuff Out of Your Car

If you’re like my old self, you tend to leave stuff lying around in your car. Pretty soon, it’s like Mount Vesuvius of crap in there. Take it out. Less stuff means less weight. Less weight means less work for your car. Less work means less gas used. Which brings us nicely to our next point…

4. Drive to Empty

If you’ve ever picked up a 1 gallon milk jug, you know how heavy it is. Now take that times 15-25 gallons and you start talking some serious weight. Drive as close to “empty” as you can get… just don’t run out of gas! As an added bonus: less time spent stopping for gas means less time stopping, which means less time getting 0 MPG.

5. Hack Your A/C

Running the air conditioning sucks gas. Rolling your windows down increases drag, which makes your car work harder and use more gas. So when should you blast the A/C and when should you go with the windows? According to Mythbusters, the tipping point is 50 mph. Anything above 50 and you’re better off running the A/C. The best scenario is obviously to roll up the windows and just circulate air. But when it’s 90+ outside and your car is a sauna, you’ll be surprised how much this method will cut your gas bill:

  1. When you get in your car, immediately roll down your windows to let cooler air in and hot air out.
  2. Once you get closer to 50, roll the windows up and crank the A/C.
  3. Once it gets cool enough, turn off the A/C and circulate the cooled air.
  4. If the air begins to get warm again, turn the A/C back on long enough to cool the air.
  5. Repeat 3 and 4.

6. Drive Slower

Every 5 MPH over 60 you drive, gas mileage is reduced by 7%. Not only that, but braking time is significantly increased. Do yourself and your wallet a favor. Cut down your speed. That extra 5 MPH won’t save you that much time, anyways.

7. Drafting: Release Your Inner NASCAR

Next time you’re on the freeway, find a nice large vehicle (preferably a semi) and tuck yourself up behind them. Mythbusters showed that following a semi within 100 feet can save 11%. Follow within 10 feet (highly risky) and you can save 40%. Just be careful with this one. A single accident can wipe away any financial benefits and then some.

8. Shift into Neutral

When your car is in gear, the transmission acts like a brake. When you are coasting, shift into neutral and you will scrub off less speed. This is especially effective going down hills, where gravity can boost your MPG significantly.

9. Simple Maintenance

Using the proper oil can increase MPG by 1-2%. You can tack on another 3% by keeping your tires properly inflated. And for the big kahuna… save up to 10% by replacing your car’s dirty air filter! That’s a whopping 15% gas savings for some maintenance that’s easy to do and good for your cars’ overall health.

It's Your Turn!

  • What do you do to save money on gas?
  • How much does it save you?
  • Do you think modifying your driving habits is really worth all the trouble?

Leave comments below!

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