Getting the best fuel economy possible is on pretty much everyone’s mind right now, whether you’re going the hybrid route or sticking with conventional technology. What are some ways to maximize mpg? Glad you asked – we’ve got tips galore:
1. Chill. Traffic, distracted drivers around you and running late can get the best of each of us, then next thing we know, we’re accelerating and braking rapidly, weaving and having false starts at signals. The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) website, www.fueleconomy.gov says aggressive driving can lower gas mileage by a whopping 33 percent at highway speeds and 5 percent in the city. Aim for smooth acceleration and braking.
2. Empty. Do you need to lug all that stuff around in your vehicle at all times? The DOE estimates that an extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could reduce your mpg by up to 2 percent. Minimize carrying unnecessary weight.
3. Idle. Don’t, actually. Shut off your engine if you’re parked rather than sitting there idling. It could burn a quarter to half gallon of fuel per hour, depending on your engine size and if the A/C is on, according to the DOE. On the other hand, don’t keep shutting your engine off and turning it on as an alternate solution; you could wear out the starter.
4. Tires. There’s a straight line between mpg and tires. When they’re properly inflated, you can improve your fuel economy by up to 3.3 percent, according to the DOE, while underinflation could lower your mpg by 0.3 percent for every 1 psi drop in pressure of all four tires, not to mention cause the tires to wear more quickly. Check your vehicle’s door sticker for minimum cold tire inflation pressure.
5. Accessorize. Minimize the use of heated seats, A/C and other power-drawing accessories. These draw electrical energy, which comes from the high-voltage battery via the DC/DC converter. All energy used will have to be replaced either by running the engine or collecting energy while braking if you’re in a hybrid.
6. Slow. Another form of aggressive driving – speeding – can be a big fuel waster. Gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. Reducing your speed from 65 to 55 mph can improve your fuel economy by up to 15 percent, and reducing your speed from 70 to 55 mph can improve your fuel economy by up to a whopping 25%. So what’s your hurry?
7. Cruise. Using cruise control helps you save fuel in two ways. First, it controls your maximum speed, which can help you stay below 60 mph. Second, it maintains a constant speed, which means you won’t be pumping extra fuel into your engine to accelerate. Many modern vehicles will let you monitor your mpg while you’re driving. You should aim to set your cruise control at your vehicle’s most fuel-efficient speed, as long as it’s at or below the legal limit.