The price of gas is way too high for many households but no one is getting an increase in wages to pay for it.
So if you want to get more bang for your buck, you have to find a way to get more fuel for less money and that’s where I come in.
I have done the hard work and study and put together the ultimate list of easy-to-follow fuel-efficient driving techniques that are guaranteed to decrease the amount of fuel you use and save you money at the pump with every visit.
Plan Your Journeys Around Fuel Performance.
Before setting off on your journey you should always do the following things.
- Inflate the tires to the correct pressure.
The correct pressures are shown on the driver’s door inner panel.
(I will cover this in greater detail later).
- Check the engine oil fluid level is adequate.
The dipstick has a minimum and maximum indicator and the oil should be near the maximum mark. Find more info here.
- Look and listen to see if the engine is running smoothly.
Dark exhaust emissions or loud rattling noises are a sign of an engine in poor condition and delivering poor fuel performance.
- Study your route before you take it.
Plan your route to avoid steep inclines, uneven road surfaces, long detours, potential traffic bottlenecks, and accident hot spots.
- Make technology work for you.
Program your Sat Nav or gas-saving app to include low-price gas stations or EV charging points along the most economical route.
- Keep the vehicle streamlined.
Remove any unnecessary equipment that will impede the airflow flowing over the vehicle.
(wind resistance is a killer to fuel economy).
- Lock the tailgate in the up position.
Seriously, a tailgate in the down position creates drag by impeding the airflow and this increases the fuel demands on the vehicle.
- Remove the excess weight.
Don’t fill the vehicle with things that you don’t need. All that extra weight has to be dragged along by the engine making it work harder and use more fuel.
- Half Fill the tank with the correct octane fuel.
A full tank is an extra weight, which means extra power is needed to move it. So if you are not going to need it, why carry it?
Filling with a lower octane fuel may damage the engine but will ruin fuel economy.
And filling with a higher octane fuel offers no fuel economy gains but may lower your emissions slightly.
Stop Your Engine From Idling
An idling engine can use up to half a gallon of fuel per hour, depending upon conditions, and yet the vehicle is going nowhere.
However, starting a warm engine only uses about 10 seconds of fuel.
So if you believe that you will be stationary for more than 10 seconds, and it is safe to do so, you should turn the engine off to increase your fuel efficiency.
Classic cars have weak starter motors which cannot cope with dozens of starts per day and should be left to idle.
Check Your Tire Pressure
Underinflated tires can decrease the fuel economy of a vehicle by an average of 1 mile per gallon or about 0.2% for every PSI drop below their optimal PSI rating.
This is because the engine has to overcome rolling resistance (friction) to achieve and maintain forward momentum.
less air in the tires means more rubber on the road and that increases the rolling resistance.
You can find the optimal PSI for your vehicle in the manufacturer’s handbook or on the panel inside the driver’s door.
Tire pressures need to be increased when towing or carrying a heavy load and these pressures can also be found in the handbook or on the driver’s door panel.
Overinflated, underinflated or a mixture of pressures in each tire can extend braking distances, and steering responsiveness which can be dangerous to vehicles traveling at speed or cornering.
Fit The Correct Tire Type
Fuel-efficient drivers fit and maintain tires that are only suitable for their vehicle and the conditions they drive in.
For example, a cool-looking, off-road tire with a heavy tread is not designed for urban driving and will ruin fuel economy.
However, all-season tires deliver a low rolling resistance and deliver an increased fuel economy while also delivering the safety standards the manufacturer intended.
Fill Up With The Correct Gas
Your fuel filler will indicate to you what type of gas you should be putting in your vehicle and this will help your engine to deliver its optimal fuel efficiency.
Filling with a lower octane fuel than recommended can cause the engine to run poorly and engine performance will suffer. It may even damage the engine.
Using a higher octane fuel will not increase your fuel economy but may have a slightly higher effect on reducing your CO2 emissions.
Keep It Streamlined
To remain fuel-efficient you must remove any roof racks, cycle racks, or other additions to the outer body of the vehicle when you are not using them.
A poorly designed roof cargo box can create aerodynamic drag and reduce fuel economy by up to 25% at 65mph to 75 mph.
Rear-mounted boxes are more aerodynamically efficient and may only reduce your fuel economy by about 5%.
To develop a good fuel-efficient driving technique you should remove all external extras and only fit them as and when needed.
Revolutions per minute (RPM) Are Important
Put simply, the higher the revolutions of your engine (RPM) the more fuel it is consuming.
This is why gearing is so important as being in a high gear allows you to travel fast without the need for higher revolutions.
For most vehicles, the most fuel-efficient engine RPM speed when the vehicle is moving is between 1,500 and 2,800 RPM.
However, this can vary as not every vehicle or situation is identical.
As a general rule of thumb, the most economical way to drive is using the highest gear and the lowest RPM that the vehicle is comfortable with.
Always Drive Smoothly and Efficiently
Vehicles use the greatest amount of fuel when accelerating and the harder you step on the gas pedal the more fuel is fed to the engine to attain the high revolutions required.
So you should accelerate gently which will increase the fuel economy greatly while also decreasing the tailpipe emissions.
In addition, rapid acceleration followed by hard braking and further rapid acceleration might get the blood pumping but it also significantly increases your fuel usage.
In fact, aggressive driving of this sort can lower your gas mileage by as much as 15% to 30% on highways and up to 40% in congested traffic areas.
Excess Speed kills Fuel Efficiency
Once you surpass your vehicle’s optimal speed, which is about 55 mph, the fuel efficiency of the vehicle greatly deteriorates.
This figure can vary slightly between car manufacturers and external conditions but it is a good average to be aware of.
Please look at the following chart as it identifies how the relationship between fuel economy and speed works.
As you can see on the chart and According to the department of energy:
A vehicle passing 55 mpg will become less fuel-efficient in the following percentages.
- 60 mpg = 3% less efficient
- 65 mpg = 8% less efficient
- 70 mpg = 17% less efficient
- 75 mpg = 23% less efficient
- 80 mpg = 28% less efficient
I find it useful to write down these figures and keep them visible on the dashboard whenever I make a long trip as it keeps me from stepping on the gas.
Skip Gears On A Manual Transmission
There are multiple gears in a vehicle and each gear should be selected when it is appropriate. However, you don’t need to select the gears in the order that they are presented at all times.
Experienced drivers will often skip gears from third to fifth and from fourth to sixth on their daily commute.
This is because they have learned that for better fuel economy they need to be in the highest gear appropriate for the speed they are traveling.
Many modern vehicle manufacturers recognize the fuel economy advantages of driving in the appropriate gear and have a gear shift indicator in their dashboard displays.
According to the EPA frequent driving in the correct gear can lower emissions and yield an average gas milage improvement of more than 9%.
Use Cruise Control Efficiently
Engines are at their most fuel-efficient when running at a constant speed and in high gear. To take advantage of this some vehicles are fitted with a cruise control feature that allows the vehicle to do this automatically.
However, to be fuel-efficient cruise control should only be applied on a flat smooth surface such as a highway.
Many experienced drivers have found that the appropriate use of cruise control can increase their vehicle’s fuel economy by an average of 7% to 14%.
Unfortunately, cruise control is slow to react to variable road conditions such as sharp bends, twists, or sudden inclines. In these areas, the use of cruise control can actually increase fuel consumption as the system struggles to recapture its original speed settings.
Cruise control should also be avoided in slick conditions or where the driver is fatigued.
Running The Air Conditioning Uses Fuel
A vehicle’s air conditioning system needs the power to run it and this task falls to the drive belt, often referred to as the serpentine belt, which is connected to the vehicle engine.
The serpentine belt also powers the alternator, the power steering pump, and various other electrical items such as the power windows and heated seats.
So when you switch the air conditioning on or use other electrical accessories, the power demand on the engine increases and it is forced to work harder.
A hard-working engine consumes more fuel and in this way, powering your AC increases your fuel consumption.
It has been calculated that using the A/C can reduce fuel economy by up to 2 miles per gallon.
To become fuel-efficient and to save money at the pump I recommend that you open the windows at low speeds and only run the AC at higher speeds with the windows closed.
Maintaining Momentum Is essential to Fuel-Efficient Driving
Gaining momentum uses a lot of fuel but once a vehicle is moving its fuel demands lower and it becomes more fuel-efficient.
Therefore a fuel-efficient driver who is trying to save money at the pump will always be looking to maintain the momentum at every opportunity.
Momentum is best preserved by driving at a safe distance from the vehicle ahead and in the correct gear for the speed.
This will allow you to read the traffic flow ahead better so you won’t need to brake and accelerate abruptly.
Your braking demands should be made early by lifting the foot off the accelerator, letting the engine slow the vehicle, and then gently easing back on the gas.
This is the highest form of fuel-efficient driving as slowing the vehicle in this way shuts off all fuel from being delivered to the engine.
How to Maintain momentum in hilly areas
In hilly areas fuel-efficient momentum is maintained with the help of gravity and a little maths.
When traveling downhill you should take advantage of gravity and also accelerate a little as this is cheap power.
This quick burst of cheap power will then help to mitigate the extra power and strain placed on the engine to get up the hill on the other side.
For smaller hills, you should allow the vehicle to slow and drop down the gears if you need to until it reaches the top of the hill.
You will be going slower but the engine will not have to work as hard to bring you back up to speed and this represents good fuel economy.
For fuel-efficient Driving Don’t coast in neutral
Putting a vehicle in neutral does not disengage the fuel injectors which means that fuel is still being pumped into the engine.
The most fuel-efficient and safer method of coasting is to keep the car in gear and let the engine slow the vehicle or travel downhill.
Slowing in gear disengages the fuel injectors until the revolutions reach about 1,100 rpm at which point the injectors may begin delivering fuel to the engine again.
Park Quickly And In The Direction Of Travel
Slow driving with lots of stops, and starts, varying speeds, gentle braking, and low gear changes will use huge amounts of fuel very quickly.
So when you arrive at your destination you should always park in the nearest available spot and in the direction you intend to leave.
Parking in this way prevents you from driving around and wasting lots of fuel in the small hope that you can find a parking spot closer to your final destination.
In truth, any spot will do even if it means a short walk. And parking in the direction of travel means that when you leave you won’t use a lot of fuel trying to find a good spot to turn around.
Combine Short Trips Into One Trip.
Combine all your short trips into one big errand day to avoid fuel-consumption patterns such as driving with a cold engine or driving in heavy traffic.
Studies show that several short trips taken with an older vehicle and a cold engine may use up to twice the fuel as one multipurpose trip that covers the same distance.
Save Money At The Pump With An App
Money-saving apps are everywhere now and due to the high gas prices, there are many specifically tailored to help save you find and buy the cheapest gas in your area.
Here are my top 3.
Available for both iOS and Android phones GasBuddy will point you to the best deals and savings on gas in your area.
So with over 150,000 gas station prices being monitored on the network and a simple-to-use trip cost calculator included, you can easily save up to 25 cents per gallon.
The Waze app alerts you to the cheapest gas prices on your entered route while also alerting you to traffic problems and suggesting alternative routes.
You can also play music and listen to your favorite podcasts and more right from the Waze app.
- AAA Trip Tik Travel Planner (AAA club members only)
AAA Trip Tik is more than just a gas price and gas station locator it is everything you need to make your road trip simpler.
This handy little app will help you to plan your trips using the shortest route, help you to make hotel booking reservations, and even find the nearest EV charging stations!
There are many more mobile apps online so just visit iTunes or google play to find the one which is best for you.
You should also check your local store or gas station for their in-house loyalty cards as these usually offer discounted fuel rates in return for your business.
Have Your Vehicle Tuned Regularly
Experienced drivers know that regular maintenance and servicing will keep your vehicle running smoothly and prevent minor problems from turning into major ones.
If you don’t service and maintain your vehicle to keep it in top shape you will see its performance and fuel efficiency deteriorate over time.
An engine tune-up can improve fuel economy by an average of one mile per gallon depending on how your vehicle is already running.
However, spotting and fixing serious faults such as a faulty fuel injector may improve your mileage by up to 30%.
Efforts to save money at the pump can really pay off if are willing to adjust your driving style slightly and keep the eventual rewards in mind.
Driving slower, safer and with a purpose will also extend the life of your vehicle and be kinder to the environment as your emissions are reduced.
So go on, challenge yourself to take on these tips for fuel-efficient driving, and see how many more miles you can go between fill-ups!