How to Improve Your Gas Mileage
Over the past several months at Eagle Ridge GM, we have been searching the Internet looking for information about how to improve your gas mileage. We have researched engine add-ons, mixture enhancers, gas mileage tips, and gas octane levels, in an effort to give you the correct advice. In this article we discuss ways to improve your gas mileage for your new or used vehicle and dispel any myths you may have heard about fuel efficiency. Following the suggestions in this article could improve your gas mileage between 10 - 15 percent per month: adding up to a substantial savings every year:
How do I get the Best Gas Mileage?
First, lets begin with the real facts that will save you money and improve your gas mileage. There are no secrets to getting better gas mileage. Improving your gas mileage to attain or beat your EPA requires thought in three areas:
- Parasitic Losses
- Engine Efficiency
- Driving Style
Parasitic losses are items that increase friction in your car. These vary from wind resistance to brake drag. Wind resistance can be difficult to control, but items such as tire pressure, brake drag, wheel alignment, driveline friction, and air conditioning can be maintained to improve your fuel efficiency.
Tire Pressure: If you've ever tried riding a bike with low-pressure in the tires you know how difficult it can be. The same is true for your car. Always keep the tires on your car inflated to maximum pressure. Although the calculations for this vary, it is estimated that for every 1 PSI your tires are under inflated your gas mileage can decrease by approximately 3 percent.
Always check your tire pressure when the tire is cold. Driving causes the air in the tires to expand giving an incorrect pressure reading. If you have to drive to a service station to inflate your tires take a cold reading first then add the difference in pressure at the station. Remove snow tires in good weather - they make your vehicle work harder. Also, watch for uneven wear on your tires. Greater tread wear in the centre means too much pressure.
Brakes and Alignment: Have your brakes checked by licensed technicians. Dragging brakes increase the resistance on your car. This can be caused by callipers that are not fully retracting or drum brakes that have been incorrectly adjusted. At the same time get your alignment checked and adjusted if needed. typical vehicle can maintain a cruise speed using 10-20 horsepower. Dragging brakes, improper alignment, and incorrect tire pressure can double the horsepower needed for cruise speed, decreasing your gas mileage by as much as 20 percent.
Driveline: The best way to reduce driveline friction is to use synthetic lubricants. Although more expensive than petroleum lubricants you do get a return on the investment through longer oil change intervals, longer engine life, and easier cold weather starting. This is an area where you need to do the math and decide if synthetic lubricants will save you money. Otherwise, check your owners manual for the recommended oil grade. The correct oil grade can improve gas mileage by 1-2 percent.
Contact Eagle Ridge GM for more information about synthetic lubricants.
Wind Resistance and Weight: The aerodynamics of a vehicle can be a difficult thing to control, but there are some things the average driver can do to reduce wind drag. Remove the roof rack (if possible) and carrier when you won't be using them. Combined, these can reduce gas mileage by approximately 5 percent. Open windows can decrease gas mileage by as much as 10 percent. To improve the aerodynamics of your truck install some type of bed cover. The air will then rush over the cover and off the truck, instead of into the bed - causing drag on the tailgate.
Every extra 100lbs of weight in your vehicle can lower gas mileage by 1-2 percent. Remove unnecessary items from your truck bed or cargo area. And in winter, be sure to remove any snow and ice build-up. An excess of 100lbs can quickly accumulate and the ice also increases wind drag.
When a vehicle is on the highway over 50% of the energy being used is aimed at overcoming aerodynamic drag. As the vehicle's speed increases this drag is increased. Every vehicle has an optimal fuel economy at a certain speed. However, fuel economy drastically decreases around 100km/h for every vehicle (the reason for speed reductions on highways in the 1970s): for every 10km/h over 90km/h that you travel, you will be paying an extra $0.05 per litre. Essentially travelling at 90 km/h can give you up to 21 percent better gas mileage than travelling between 105 - 115km/h.
Air Conditioning: Although air conditioning does not cause additional friction we have placed it with parasitic loss items because it does cause your engine to work harder. Turn off the air conditioner whenever you can. Running the A/C lowers your fuel efficiency by 5 to 10 percent. Consider installing some type of tinted window film, it can reduce the cabin temperature by as much as 6°C.
Maximizing your Engine Efficiency
Car maintenance should be done on a regular basis not only to improve gas mileage, but to maintain the life of the car and its engine. The modern computer controlled engines of today regulate the gas/air flow ratios quite well; however, there are several items that can be serviced regularly to improve gas efficiency:
- Replacing a clogged air filter can improve your gas mileage by as much as 10%
- Add fuel injector cleaner to your gas tank every 5,000 kilometres to ensure that the injectors work correctly
- Replace your oxygen sensor every 80,000 kilometres - this can improve fuel efficiency by as much as 15%
- Replace spark plug wires every 80,000 kilometres
- Perform a regular tune-up
- Replace your fuel filter regularly
For more detailed service and proper maintenance consult your vehicle's maintenance guide or a licensed technician.
Change your Driving Style
All the items listed above discuss ways to improve your fuel efficiency through mechanical means; however, the best way to improve your gas mileage is to change your driving habits. Listed below are methods that everyone can use to improve their gas mileage:
- Group your errands efficiently. The less trips you have to make the more money you will save.
- Avoid warming up your engine for long periods of time, even in winter - 45 seconds is plenty of time.
- Make sure the automatic choke has disengaged after the engine has warmed up. These types of chokes can often stick, increasing the gas mixture of the vehicle.
- Try not to let your vehicle idle for more than one minute. Every minute your vehicle idles consumes the same amount of gas used to start the vehicle. Avoid drive-throughs with lengthy line-ups. Park the car and go inside.
- Switch to higher gears as soon as possible. Traveling fast in lower gears can consume up to 45 percent more fuel.
- Think ahead when approaching a hill. If you need to accelerate do it before you reach the hill, not while you're on it and coast down the other side.
- Traffic lights are usually timed for your advantage. Drive steadily, at the speed limit and you increase your chances of getting a green light through the whole series of traffic lights.
- Nearly 50 percent of the energy needed to power a vehicle is used during acceleration. Fast acceleration and sudden stops can decrease your gas economy between 5 and 10 percent around town and as much as 30 percent on the highway. This also results in added brake and tire wear. Use cruise control on the highway. When you drive safely you may save more than gas money.
- Drive steadily and avoid tailgating. This will reduce the number of stops and starts.
- Use only your right foot for accelerating and braking. This eliminates the chance of you riding the brake and wasting gas.
How to Buy Gasoline
Everyone knows how to use a gas pump, but several tips on what to buy and when can put money in your pocket.
- Buy gas at the coolest time of the day. Gas is sold by volume and is more dense at cooler temperatures; therefore, you will get more gas for your money during cooler parts of the day.
- Lift the hose after you have finished pumping and pour the extra gas into the tank: why let the next person have the gas you paid for, for free.
- Choose your brand of gas carefully. Certain brands provide better quality gas, which gives better fuel economy.
- Read your owner's manual or contact a licensed technician to find out what type of gas the manufacturer recommends for your vehicle. High octane may be needed for some engines, but not all. You can save yourself money every time you fill up by not using premium gas.
- Avoid overfilling the gas tank and splashing gasoline onto the pavement.
- After filling up the gas tank be sure to click the gas cap three times or purchase a locking gas cap. A study in the U.S. showed that 556 million litres of gas per year vaporize into the air from improperly sealed gas tanks.
By following these guidelines and performing regular maintenance on your vehicle you will notice an increase in gas mileage and engine performance. Fuel economy will vary from vehicle to vehicle, but we estimate a 10 - 15 percent savings overall and the added bonus will be a cleaner environment.
We hope this article was useful.
Located in Coquitlam, Near Maple Ridge, and Surrey in Lower Mainland, British Columbia, Eagle Ridge GM is here to satisfy all of your vehicle needs. Come see us for a test drive.