How to Get Better Gas Mileage


You don’t have to buy a new car to save money on gasoline. Learn how to get the best mpg in your current car with these 12 fuel-efficient driving techniques.

If you want to get better gas mileage and save big bucks at the pump, simply changing your driving habits can improve your miles per gallon by 30 percent or more. To illustrate this point, two General Motors fuel economy engineers each drove an identical 2011 Chevy Cruze on a combined city/highway route, each using a different driving style. The 2011 Cruze has an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fuel economy rating of 26 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. The engineer who drove aggressively turned in an average of 20.5 mpg, while the engineer who employed fuel-efficient driving techniques delivered an average of 37.4 mpg on the same course. That’s a positive difference of 16.9 mpg due solely to driving style! 

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Tips for Getting Better Gas Mileage

Save money and energy with these no-cost tips to improve your car’s gas mileage. Originally publish…

Many people falsely assume that the vehicle they drive should regularly deliver its official estimated fuel economy rating. The key word here is “estimated.” The city, highway and combined mpg numbers are calculated by running the vehicle through preprogrammed driving cycles on a stationary chassis dynamometer. This test does not completely allow for various human factors, including driving style, as shown by the Cruze example.

This is actually good news: A little bit of human control can go a long way toward meeting or even exceeding a car’s mpg rating. The following 12 fuel-efficient driving techniques are easy to learn and apply. Try these tips for how to get better gas mileage and call upon your competitive spirit to see how much you can improve your vehicle’s gas mileage with each tank.

12 Fuel-Efficient Driving Techniques

1. Light Touch on the Accelerator. Because the accelerator pedal controls how much gasoline or diesel fuel (or electricity, in the case of electric cars) is fed to the engine, it makes sense that a light touch will yield the best mpg. A vehicle is least efficient when it is accelerating, so the trick is to use just enough power to get up to the desired speed quickly enough, without hard acceleration and without prolonging that phase. On the other hand, accelerating too slowly can actually hinder overall gas mileage.

2. Avoid High-Speed Cruising. Wind resistance compounds with speed, meaning high-speed cruising greatly diminishes fuel economy. The threshold for most vehicles at which highway mpg really begins to degrade is at about 60 mph, above which fuel economy drops off at a rapid rate. You can increase mpg by running below the speed limit, but only when it’s feasible and doing so won’t impede traffic or cause other safety issues. Electric cars will see their range drop significantly at higher speeds, so if you feel “range anxiety,” slow down.

Running air conditioning or other engine-powered accessories makes the engine work harder and hurts fuel economy. At slower speeds, roll the windows down to cool off. At higher speeds, however, having the windows down creates aerodynamic problems, so it’s actually better to use air conditioning.