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How to Save Money on Gas Mileage cost

Updated on September 27, 2013

As we frustratingly watch gas prices skyrocket, the need to manage our fuel consumption versus the money in our wallets is growing quickly. I don't know about you, but the thought of having to spend close to $5 for a U.S. gallon of gas, makes me kick my tires, and not just to check the air pressure. This Gas Mileage Improvement Guide provides tips on cheap and easy ways to improve fuel economy. These tips are free (for the most part) and can start working for you today. In some cases the changes you make can save you as much as 30% on your gasoline cost. (Don't worry, I won't be telling you to take the bus, even though it is a very economical way to save on gas mileage.)

Broken and Bleeding Vehicle Fuel Gauge Graphic
Broken and Bleeding Vehicle Fuel Gauge Graphic | Source

What Lowers Gas Mileage?

The EPA has gathered some very useful information regarding the things that can have a measurable effect on fuel consumption in our cars ( Some of the factors are environment, vehicle condition, and of course driver technique. I have put this information into an easy to read table format found below.

Factors Affecting Gas Mileage Chart

20°F vs 77°F
Head wind 
20 mph 
7% road grade 
Poor road conditions
Gravel, curves, slush, snow, etc.
Traffic congestion
20 vs 27 mph average speed
Highway speed
70 vs 55 mph
Acceleration rate
"Hard" vs "easy"
wheel alignment
1/2 inch
Tire type
Non-radial vs radial
Tire pressure
15 psi vs 26 psi
Air conditioning
Extreme heat
Extreme use
Analogus to A/C on some vehicles
Winter vs summer
variable with driver
Open vs closed
Unknown but likely small

Factors that Impact Gas Mileage Economy

Howes Meaner Power Cleaner Improves Your Mileage!

What You Think Really Does Matter!

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Gas Mileage Is Lower in Badly Maintained Vehicles

If you don't already know that bad vehicle maintenance causes a huge reduction in your fuel economy, then listen up! Fuel efficiency is directly related to the condition of your car. If your vehicle oil is the same five quarts that have been in your car for the past 8,000 miles, trust me, your fuel economy is going to be reduced. If your oil is bad, your car pays the price is wear and tear, you pay the price in repairs. Twice as much friction occurs when your car is cold compared to when it is warmed up, so the cleaner and fresher your oil is from the beginning of your travels, the better your fuel economy will be. Thick (old, broken down, non-viscus, dirty) oil causes greater drag and friction on the mechanically moving parts of your car, thus requiring more fuel to push your vehicle forward. Friction happens when:

  • Your vehicle is out of tune - If you haven't had a tune-up in more than a year, your losing gas mileage.
  • Are the tires out of alignment - Run-up over a curb or hit a pothole and your tire alignment gets pushed out of its normal position. Potentially you have caused drastic rolling resistance and a real impact on your vehicle mileage.
  • Your spark plugs are wearing out - You may be noticing that it takes a few extra strikes on the ignition to get things started these days.

These are just a few of the things that car owners must pay attention to. Poor maintenance of your car can result in poor gas mileage over all. Nothing will continually sneak dollar after dollar out your hard earned paycheck than a car that has been poorly maintained. Be sure to follow your manufacturers suggested maintenance schedule, and put this stuff on your calendar!

Jesus is hanging on to the cross as this driver zooms down the road!
Jesus is hanging on to the cross as this driver zooms down the road!

How You Drive Effects Gas Mileage

The fun of driving is not lost on me as I attempt to save a few bucks on my gas mileage. We all know the thrill of spinning tires as we jet off the line from a dead stop. The rush of screeching rubber, the push of gravity against our bodies as we are embedded into our seat, and most of all the growl of an engine that tacks-out at 6,000 rpms! I love driving and floating into a well handled drifting bootleg slide, and of course being the first to shoot past the flag at the end of a street race. Now that's driving! But at what co$t? The cost these days my friend is a whole lot more than you may think!

How you drive will make or break your gas mileage day in and day out. There are two things to keep in mind when saving fuel, "Bad Gas Mileage Driving" versus "Good Gas Mileage Driving" Behaviors and "How we can Change them."

Charting Average Fuel Economy at Varying Speeds

A chart of average gas mileage at various speeds.
A chart of average gas mileage at various speeds. | Source

Bad Gas Mileage Driving Behaviors

  • Screech and Zoom - Driving as fast as you can, maintaining speed until the last second and then hitting the brakes hard to abruptly stop at a red light, causing your tires to struggle to hold their traction. Then punch the gas to accelerate to cruising speed again. Repeat intersection after intersection until you get to work on time.
  • There Will be No Passing - Driving in bumper to bumper traffic, guarding your position with vigor. There is no way you are going to let someone bully you by taking the position in front of you. Working the gas and brake, you keep right on the bumper of the car in front of you, no chance anyone can sneak into such a tiny space.

  • Coast up and Speed Down - Your cruise control keeps you at a constant speed, and your cars computer works hard to do this. When heading up an incline, more gas is used to pull the car up. After hitting the apex at the top, coasting down still uses gas, because the cruise control doesn't totally stop supplying fuel.

Graph of Gas Prices as of March 3, 2006 through 2011
Graph of Gas Prices as of March 3, 2006 through 2011 | Source

You Should Be Using the Good Gas Mileage Driving Behaviors

1. Screech and Zoom becomes Steady and Coast - Accelerate slow and steady until you reach your desired cruising speed. Stay alert and anticipate when you have to slow or stop and lift off of the gas well ahead of time. Allow the momentum to carry your vehicle forward, trading this momentum for distance. Try to use the brakes minimally, but don't hesitate to use the brakes at any time you need them. Allow the natural roll and wind resistance to slow you down, while letting your momentum carry you as far as possible, using your brakes lightly when coming to a full stop.

2. There Will Be No Passing becomes Make a Stress-less Spot - Instead of fighting your way to the front of the line, lay back and be content with the right hand lane. Create a nice broad gap between you and the vehicle in front of you. Keep steady pressure on the gas pedal. If the cars ahead of you slow down, use the gap in front of you to slow down gently by coasting, using the brakes only if necessary. When the cars ahead of you speed up again, gently accelerate, and recreate the gap in front of you. You will experience less stress by not being right on the bumper of the vehicle in front of you. You will arrive at your destination stress free, while others who arrive a few moments ahead of you by fighting and honking their way to the front, will be in a frantic and stressed-out state.

Tips for Fuel Efficiency Video

3. Cruising and Kicking Back becomes Coast up and Speed Down - When it comes to your cruise control's fuel economy and hills, there is nothing frugal about it. Your cruise control doesn't know the secrets for taking advantage of gravity. Your vehicle's cruise control has no understanding that accelerating up a hill only gives you horrible gas mileage results. This being the case, always turn off the cruise control when navigating rolling hills . Try this in stead; when you are headed down a hill and ready to start up the next one, accelerate gently. Use the force of gravity to help your engine in the process of acceleration. Get up to a speed you are comfortable with, but not too fast, (70 or 80 miles per hour can cost in fuel mileage all on its own). As you start to climb the next hill, watch your speedometer and very slowly let up on the gas. Allow the momentum of the car to carry it up the hill with minimal pressure on the gas pedal, letting this pressure off slowly. Let the car slow as it reaches the top of the hill, make sure you go fast enough not to impair traffic (within a few miles of the speed limit). When you reach the apex of the hill and begin to head down again, start the process over. The idea is to use the pull and push of gravity; which offers you gravitational gas mileage improvement all for free.

Arm and a Leg gas prices
Arm and a Leg gas prices | Source

Improve Gas Mileage By Using These Cost Free Techniques

Gas Mileage and Tires

  • It is a good practice to check the air pressure in your tires every week, especially if there has been a greater than 30°F change in temperature.
  • Keep tires filled as near to the highest pressure listed on the tire.
  • Check for wear and tear, primarily along the center line if over-inflated and along the outer edges if under-inflated. If excess wear is noted along the one or both edges, an alignment, struts, or shock absorber issue is in the works.
  • Keep tires filled to the proper "load" weight that is being transported. If your work truck bed is full to rim with cargo, and you see your tires looking a little squished, you are jeopardizing mileage greatly, not to mention safety.

Gas Mileage and Windows

  • Unless you just can't take the heat, it is always cheaper to drive without the A/C on.
  • When driving in town, it is more gas efficient to have your windows down and A/C off on hot days.
  • If it gets too hot to keep the windows up and your A/C off, you are better off running your A/C than you are rolling your windows down when driving at highway speeds. At these faster speeds (above 40 mph), the drag of the rushing wind against your rear window reduces gas mileage significantly.

Gas Mileage and the Aerodynamic Vehicle (The truck bed)

  • Anything attached to the outside of your car will reduce mileage because of added wind resistance. A car-top carrier, bike rack on the rear, even a luggage rack on top of your roof will cause resistance. Some luggage racks are removable, which is what you should do when it's not in use.
  • If you can add air damns, spoilers, or fairings around the bottom of our vehicle (you will see long-haul truckers, race car drivers and SUV owners doing this) you can significantly reduce the drag of air that runs underneath your car. The engine won't have to work as hard to push the car forward, and gas mileage increases.
  • Hold on to your backsides for this one! I found this hard to believe, but it has been proven by aerospace engineers. We often see pick-up trucks with the tailgate taken off or a net style tailgate replacing hard tailgates in an effort to reduce drag and increase gas mileage. Well, these truck driving folks unfortunately are not doing themselves any favors as far as mileage goes. Here's what really happens;

A Tailgate and Gas MIleage Loss

When the tailgate is on the bed of the truck, there is a "bubble" of air that forms in the bed of the truck. The air passing over the top of the truck, also passes over the air bubble, as if it were part of the truck body, making a pretty smooth path for the rushing air. We know that with less resistance of air, the better the gas mileage. But if you remove the tailgate, the bubble can't form and leaves space for the passing air to swirl and become turbulent in and around the bed of the truck, causing much more resistance. In a Nutshell — truck owner's;keep your tailgate right where it's supposed to be! On the back end of your truck bed!

Comments for Gas Mileage Improvement Guide...

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  • twilanelson profile image

    Twila Nelson 

    9 years ago from Carmichael, California

    Interesting and informative Hub with wonderful writing technique. Thank you for sharing your writing gift in a way that improves our quality of life. Once again I thank you.

  • Chatkath profile image


    10 years ago from California

    Great timing K9 - I just filled up the other day - my tiny Toyota took over $50 which is nothing compared to a truck but for me, about twice what I used to spend! Thanks for sharing these tips! Well done Hub, rated up!

  • LeanMan profile image


    10 years ago from At the Gemba

    I always remember a story told to me by my old father In-law about fuel shortages in the UK many years back. He felt that he had to do his bit to conserve fuel so kept his Jaguar to a modest and sedate pace, that was until he was overtaken by two nuns in a mini!

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 years ago from Sunny Florida

    This is a great hub since gas is rising with no end in sight. You gave many good tips to save on mileage. Rated up.

  • Simone Smith profile image

    Simone Haruko Smith 

    10 years ago from San Francisco

    Great tips! I'm still pretty happy to not have a car though... my fuel economy involves bread and cheese and chocolate!


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