5 Things You Can Do to Increase Your Vehicle’s MPG

by Sean Bryant on May 19, 2017

Americans consumed around 143 billion gallons of gas in 2016, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, adding to the constant emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. However, you don’t have to drive an electric or hybrid vehicle to save money on gas (although this may be a good option). Instead, help to increase your car’s miles per gallon with these five simple tips:

Drive Responsibly

Some of the easiest things you can do to increase your car’s MPG is to drive safely and smartly. Get your car up to speed slowly (instead of gunning it as soon as the traffic signal turns green) and stay at or under the speed limit for as long as possible. If you’re driving on the highway, use your cruise control and maintain a reasonable distance behind the car in front of you so you don’t have to brake and speed up as often.

Don’t give into road rage and impatience while you’re driving, either. According to MoneyTalkNews, Mythbusters tested to see if angry and stressed drivers burn more fuel — and the results came back positive. If you find yourself tailgating the car in front of you, zipping in and out of lanes, or taking off at green lights only to slam your brakes at the next red light, then take a deep breath and relax. If you want to save money — and avoid an accident — you need to be smart about your driving habits.

Replace and Maintain Car Parts

Now it’s time to take a look at your car. Start with your tires. You should check your tires’ air pressure at least once a month to make sure they remain in the optimal air range, as tires naturally lose air from driving and changing weather conditions. You also should make sure your tires are aligned properly and in decent shape. If the tread is starting to wear down, your traction on the road — and therefore your fuel efficiency — will be affected. In these cases, your best bet is to invest in new tires.

Next, check your engine and its accompanying parts. To run smoothly and efficiently, your engine must be clean as well as clear of dust, dirt and other grime. Replace your air filter periodically (you can see when it’s clogged, and many oil change shops will ask if you want to replace it) to help catch all the particles coming into your engine. Even though they last much longer, you also need to replace your spark plugs about every 30,000 miles to help your engine runner better.

Lighten Your Load

The heavier your car, the more gas you’ll use. So how should you properly lighten your load to help increase your vehicle’s MPG? First, remove any unnecessary items from your vehicle, especially if you’re traveling a long distance. For example, if you drive a minivan to work by yourself, take out the back seats to significantly lighten your load. You also should remove that pile of junk that’s built up in your trunk or backseat (it’s okay; it happens to the best of us).

Turn Everything Off

The more you have running in your car, the less efficient you’re being. That means you need to turn off the air conditioning and radio, because it’s making your car work harder and burn more fuel. You also should not idle. If you’re stopped at a particularly long light — in a traffic jam that has no signs of moving — then your best bet is to turn off your engine. Just be sure to pay attention to traffic so you can start moving as soon as you can.

Reduce Drag

You can make this tip as simple or complicated as you like. The easiest way to reduce drag on your car is to roll up the windows. You also may want to put a cover over your wheels and tape up any place that air can get through to improve your fuel efficiency. Just be sure you are being safe and not covering any important features that help keep your engine cool or you and other drivers safe.

Increasing your car’s MPG comes down to common sense and good driving habits. Check your owner’s manual and the rules of the road in your area before implementing these tips. While you want to save money and reduce your impact on the environment, maintaining road safety should still be your No. 1 priority.

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Sean Bryant

Sean Bryant created OneSmartDollar.com in 2011 to help pass along his knowledge of finance and economics to others. After graduating from the University of Iowa with a degree in economics he worked as a construction superintendent before jumping into the world of finance. Sean has worked on the trade desk for a commodities brokerage firm, he was a project manager for an investment research company and was a CDO analyst at a big bank. That being said he brings a good understanding of the finance field to the One Smart Dollar community. When not working Sean and he wife are avid world travelers. He enjoys spending time with his daughter Colette and dog Charlie.

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