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Gas Mileage - Tips to improve your gas mileage and reduce the cost of gas

Updated on May 20, 2013

Driving tips to improve gas mileage

It may be obvious but how many of us do it? Don't drive as much. Taking a bike, bus, walking, or carpooling will save you money and walking and biking will improve your health. That being said combining your trips will also save you money rather than making multiple trips. Drop your clothes at the dry cleaner on your way to the grocery store, after taking your kids to practice is one example. Driving less by car pooling is a great way to save money and helps reduce traffic.

Lessen resistance

Air conditioning vs open windows. It is a fact that your car runs better with the less resistance, in other words closing your windows. With air conditioning your engine is working harder. There have been tests to show that there is virtually no difference with the windows open vs. air conditioning to save money on gas. But both will affect your miles per gallon by up to 3 percent depending on your speed. It is recommended to use either when necessary.

Change your acceleration habits

Try and avoid stopping and accelerating frequently. Many of us have to deal with rush hour traffic. Alternating your route that may be a little longer but with less of the stop and go will help improve your miles per gallon. Another option if your employer is flexible would be to alter your schedule to avoid the traffic all together. Excessive acceleration is one way to greatly reduce your miles per gallon. When coming off a stoplight start of slow and gradual and you will see up to a 35 percent increase in your mpg.

Cruise Control

Cruise control is a useful feature to save you money at the pump. Driving with the cruise control on will prevent speed creep. Setting the speed at a constant speed has shown almost 14 percent increase with the control set at 70 vs. driving without from 65 to 75 miles per hour.


Although this tip is not recommended the "Myth Busters" proved that drafting behind big rigs will improve your gas mileage. It is recommended to stay 150 feet behind a semi truck so you are not in a blind spot. The tests show that at a distance of 50 feet there was a 20 percent increase in miles per gallon. Again this is potentially unsafe and not recommended.

Vehicle Maintenance

Vehicle maintenance is critical to improving your gas mileage. Proper maintenance will prolong the life of your vehicle and save you money in costly major repairs. A lot of the maintenance tips to help improve your mpg, or miles per gallon, are fairly simple and inexpensive.

Checking your tire pressure to ensure they are properly inflated is one of the easiest maintenance tip and least inexpensive. The vehicle manufacture has its recommended tire pressure; the sticker is usually on the side of your driver door. Ensuring your tires have the proper psi can improve your gas mileage by 2 – 3%.

Changing or cleaning the air filter is another way to help improve your vehicles fuel efficiency. It is a fairly simple task and the last time I changed my filter the guy at the auto parts store actually changed it for me at no cost. Having a clean air filter can improve your miles per gallon by up to 4-10%.

Changing your oil is the most frequently suggested maintenance tip that will improve your vehicles gas mileage. In addition to saving you money on gas, it helps lubricate the moving parts, prevents wear, and removes debris. Changing your oil regularly can improve your gas mileage by about 12%. Most recommend using an oil that list a friction reducing additive.

Your spark plugs have a major effect on your vehicles performance and gas mileage. The spark plug causes the combustion of fuel inside the cylinder. If they are not firing when they should or they aren't firing at all will cause you to waste gas and reduce your gas mileage. Ensuring your spark plugs can improve your cars gas mileage by about 10%.

Other simple tips to get better gas mileage

The more aerodynamic your car is the better gas mileage you will achieve. Luggage racks, bike racks, etc should be removed to allow your car to reduce drag and will increase your vehicles mpg. Washing and waxing your car will remove dirt and make your car more aerodynamic. The dirt adds to the drag as you drive causing a reduction in miles per gallon. Washing and waxing can improve your gas mileage by up to 5 percent.

Get rid of excess weight.  One hundred pounds of excess weight can reduce your miles per gallon by 2 percent. Most everyone I know has a bunch of extra things in their trunk or the back of their truck or suv. If you wont need it on your trip get rid of it until you will need it.

When to buy gas

The best time of day to buy gas is when it is at its coolest, generally early morning or late at night. Gas is more dense and less of it will evaporate while it is cooler. Pumping slower will also save you money at the pump because it evaporates quickly. During the week it is said to get your gas on or before Wednesday. if there is bad news about oil producing nations or other conflicts the report goes out on Wednesday so the prices will usually go up then. Statistically Tuesdays have the lowest prices for the week.

It is recommended that if there is a gas supply truck at the station you should avoid getting gas then. The filling of the tanks stirs up all the debris and other things you do not want in your gas tank. With that said the same stuff in there is in your gas tank so fill up when your tank has about 1/4 tank so that the same debris will have less of a chance to get into your engine.

If your car does not require premium gas buy the regular. The mid grade gas is so close to the regular so it doesn't make sense to pay extra and it doesn't affect your miles per gallon anyways.

If your gas station offers a credit card they usually will discount the gas by a few pennies on the gallon. Some even offer cash back with purchases with the card on certain products saving you even more money. Just be sure to pay the balance every month to avoid interest.


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