The Fact and Fiction about How to Improve Gas Mileage

With gas prices on the rise, many drivers are searching for ways how to improve gas mileage on their Trucks, SUVs and Sedans.  And the higher the price per gallon gets, the more myths about how to reduce fuel consumption start showing up on the internet.  So, we’re here to set the record straight by separating Fact from Fiction about modifications to improve fuel economy.

Fact or Fiction: The MPG on the window sticker of the cars is a guarantee of the MPG for a vehicle.

FICTION:  While the MPG estimates on your vehicle’s window sticker are determined by tests performed by the Environmental Protection Agency of the Federal Government, they admit that their figures are just that…“estimates”.  According to their website, “some drivers will get an mpg that is higher than the label values while others may experience lower fuel economy, due to more unusual driving behavior or ambient conditions” (https://nepis.epa.gov/).

Fact or Fiction: Fast accelerations takes more gas

FACT: Restrain that inner race car driver in yourself.  Fast accelerations, as well as heavy braking, take more gas than driving at a moderate consistent speed.  If you maintain the speed limit and avoid the habit of going too fast, you can improve your fuel economy as much as 15 to 30 percent at highway speeds and 10 to 40 percent in stop-and-go traffic.

Fact or Fiction: Idling in traffic takes more gas in NJ

FACT: While you may be tempted to ask “does it waste more gas to idle or start”, the truth is idling historically takes more fuel than starting and restarting your vehicle. When not moving AND idling, fuel consumption per hour uses 80% more pollutants than when your car is running. Those with the “automatic stop/go” feature in their vehicles could see as much as a 10-30% improvement in the MPG according to some manufacturer’s estimates.

Fact or Fiction: Cruise Control doesn’t improve fuel economy

FICTION:  Not only does using cruise control save diesel and regular fuel, it also improves the overall condition of your vehicle’s drive train.  While not recommended for harsh weather conditions, such as snow and heavy rain, using cruise control is an easy way to improve gas mileage mechanically.  For those drivers with an “Adaptive Cruise Control” system, the system will even apply the brakes to slow you down should the traffic pattern change. Overall, using cruise control is the easiest way to improve fuel economy in an automatic vehicle.

Fact or Fiction: Car Maintenance Doesn’t Impact Fuel Economy

FICTION: The very first step you should be taking in fixing poor gas mileage is to make sure your vehicle is in good condition.  Car maintenance to improve gas mileage includes:

  • Replace oil filter at every oil change – not only should you do this every time you change your oil, you should also rotate your tire at the same time.  This will extend the wear of your tread and improve your tires traction.  And if you haven’t already upgraded to synthetic motor oil, check with your mechanic.  Synthetic oil boosts engine efficiency and extends the time between oil changes.
  • Replace engine filter at regular intervals – Most manufacturers recommend changing it every 10,000 to 15,000 miles. Even a tiny grain of dirt can clog injectors, leading to erratic performance and poor gas mileage.
  • Check your tire pressure – If your tires are underinflated, fuel consumption can increase by as much as 3%. Check your owner’s manual for the proper PSI for your tires.
  • Clean out the Clutter – By reducing the additional bulk weight of your vehicle, you can improve your fuel efficiency. For example, at highway speeds, roof-mounted cargo boxes can reduce fuel economy by 6 to 17%, while their rear-mounted counterparts typically have a 1 to 5% impact (gmfinancial.com).

Fact or Fiction – Using the Air Conditioner doesn’t impact fuel economy

FICTION – According to the US Dept of Energy “Under very hot conditions, Air Conditioner use can reduce a conventional vehicle’s fuel economy by more than 25%, particularly on short trips.”  Additionally, the air conditioners effect on hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric vehicles (EVs) can be even larger on a percentage basis.

However, it is also important to note that driving with your windows down can also reduce fuel economy. Open windows increase aerodynamic drag (wind resistance), which is more impactful on fuel economy when driving at highways speeds.

To avoid both, experts suggest switching from fresh air mode to recirculation and this can reduce this cost.  For those who think recirculating air makes it warmer, in some cases the temperature outside is the same as inside, but just having the air recirculate will cool down the vehicle.Driving without AC saves gas and will benefit you in the long run.

Fact or Fiction – My driving style doesn’t impact my vehicle’s fuel consumption

FICTION – Next to vehicle maintenance, your driving style has the greatest impact on your vehicle’s fuel efficiency.  But there are a number of techniques you can use while driving any vehicle to increase fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.  Just use these 5 fuel efficient driving techniques:

1.Use your Cruise Control feature whenever possible. Set the speed limit to match your road’s regulated limit.

2. Plan your trip. Not only try to avoid peak high traffic hours, but map out your stops so that you are driving the least number of miles and/or avoiding traffic congestion that will increase your idling time.

3. Monitor your Vehicles Fuel Consumption. If your vehicle comes with a MPG usage gauge in the dash cluster, be conscious of what it is telling you.  If not, keep track of your trips so you can estimate how much gas it takes to reach each destination for future reference.

4. Control your Stops and Goes. Avoid situations that will cause you to accelerate very quickly and keep your speed below 55 mph.  When you do need to stop, coast to decelerate.

5. Drive a well-maintained vehicle. Keep your vehicle in top running condition with regular oil/filter changes, proper tire pressure, and tune-ups.  Make sure you also keep your load light by removing unnecessary added cargo that can cause drag or additional weight to the vehicle.