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How can I Make my Car More Fuel Efficient?

By J. Beam
Updated May 23, 2024
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As gas prices soar higher and higher each year, many people begin to gain a solid perspective on how making their vehicle more fuel efficient can impact their budget. Regardless of the price of gas, fuel efficient practices are important to both the economy and the environment.

Obviously the best thing you could do would be to buy a new, more fuel efficient vehicle, such as a hybrid, but that’s not particularly practical advice for many. When you can't afford to buy a new car, there are several measures you can take to make the vehicle you currently drive more fuel efficient.

Regular and proper routine maintenance is one way to make your vehicle use fuel more efficiently. Start by keeping your tires properly inflated. Tire inflation can affect fuel efficiency. Improperly inflated tires, as well as incorrect wheel alignment, can cause a rolling resistance, which can cause a vehicle to loose as much as one or two miles per gallon of fuel. Check your tire inflation regularly and keep them within the range specified by your vehicle’s owners manual.

A vehicle is also more fuel efficient with a clean air filter. Clogged and dirty air filters allow too much gas to be burned for the amount air and causes the engine to loose power. A clean air filter can improve gas mileage by up to 10 percent. You should consider changing your air filter with every oil change or simply learn to do it yourself.

Other routine maintenance measures that can improve fuel efficiency include changing dirty spark plugs, regular tune-ups, and using a properly fitting gas cap. If you are unfamiliar with routine vehicle maintenance, refer to your vehicle’s owners manual and find a mechanic you can trust.

Good driving habits can also help improve fuel efficiency. Avoid quick starts and stops and eliminate aggressive driving or driving over the speed limit. Gas mileage begins to decrease above 60 miles per hour. Using cruise control on highways can also make your commute more fuel efficient. Additional suggestions that improve fuel efficiency when driving include avoiding hauling unnecessary weight and reducing A/C use when possible.

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Discussion Comments

By highlighter — On Apr 02, 2011

@ aplenty- Sadly I live in a rural area and I live about 15 miles from my work. There is no public transportation and it is too far to walk. My car is about ten years old and I am thinking about buying a new vehicle. I am not sure what to purchase though. I want to buy a fuel-efficient car, but I am not sure if I should get a hybrid or a turbo diesel that gets high 30 miles per gallon. I have heard mixed things about hybrid vehicles; things like they are expensive, they are not as reliable as gas or diesel cars, they take a lot of energy to build, and the batteries need to be replaced after a few years. I like to keep my vehicles for about eight years. Does anyone have any advice on the type of car I should look for?

By Amphibious54 — On Apr 01, 2011

@aplenty- You make a good point about driving habits...I have never thought about my fuel consumption that way. I am always thinking about how I can squeeze more mileage out of my automobile, but I am never thinking about ways to do things without my automobile. Your perspective has made me think about getting the best gas mileage through behavior changes. I should start exploring more of the little shops and restaurants in my neighborhood, step out of my comfort zone, and not be so attached to my vehicle.

I live in a city full of bike trails. I also have a bike collecting cobwebs in my garage. This weekend I will make it a point to explore these bike trails and see what is within a comfortable range. Maybe I can get my family to go out for lunch by bike some time.

By aplenty — On Mar 30, 2011

I feel that everyone is so caught up with the fuel economy of a vehicle that they do not look at their overall fuel consumption. I drive a big truck, but I probably burn less fuel and put less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than most. My fiancée and I share a vehicle, and we only drive approximately 10,000 miles per year. We only get 16 miles per gallon, but it is the same as a person who drives a car that gets 24 mpg 15,000 miles per year.

Reducing the amount you drive reduces your carbon impact and saves you money. Studies have shown that both the fixed and variable costs of owning a car are at least 70 cents per mile for a midsize sedan (gas, repairs, insurance, depreciation, etc.). It is more like a dollar per mile for a SUV or truck. The point of this is a person can buy a metro pass or bus pass for what he or she would pay for a vehicle for a mile. We have a kid, participate in a number of activities, and have a lot more money by simply utilizing the public transportation system, walking, and our vehicle.

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