AAA urges motorists to do all they can to improve their vehicle’s miles per gallon including:
1) Gas. Only use premium if your owner’s manual says you should. You may think you’re doing your car a favor by buying premium, but you’re not. For most cars, the recommended gasoline is regular 87 octane. Using a higher octane gas offers no benefit except for high-performance vehicles. Also, don’t “top off” when filling your tank. Most of that fuel either remains in the hose or evaporates. One more tip: shop around for the best price. Check with friends, neighbors, co-workers and Web sites (such as www.AAA.com; Fuel Price Finder) for the lowest prices. Most gasoline sold in Oklahoma is of the same quality, whether you buy at a name brand or a “Mom and Pop” station.
2) Tires. By far, underinflated tires rank as the most common reason for poor fuel economy. Surveys show that one out of every four cars on the road today has at least one extremely low tire (below specs by eight pounds per square inch or more). One in every three pickups, vans and SUVs has the same problem. Gas mileage drops as much as two percent for every single pound of pressure your tires fall below the recommended level. Investing five minutes every two weeks with an air hose and a tire gauge (they’re inexpensive and available at auto parts stores everywhere) will save you a bundle. Check your owner’s manual or the sticker in your glove compartment or on a door jamb for recommended tire pressures. Do not go by what is on the tire; that’s the maximum.
3) Air Filter. Another simple and cheap way to improve your fuel efficiency is to check your air filter. You can do it yourself – look in your owner’s manual for information. If it’s dirty, buy a new one and put it in; it’s very easy to do. Some automotive experts say replacing a dirty air filter can increase your gas mileage by up to ten percent.
4) Engine. Old, dirty spark plugs can reduce fuel economy by 30 percent. Other bad components under the hood can cause your engine to waste even more fuel.
5) Reduce Your Miles. If you have to drive far to do your shopping, make sure you purchase everything you might need for several days. Consolidate errands. Cold engines use more fuel than warm engines. Also, visit shops closer to home.
6) Drive Efficiently. Stay within posted speed limits; avoid rush hour driving; stop aggressive driving; and avoid unnecessary idling. Quick jackrabbit starts and sudden stops waste fuel and are very hard on your vehicle’s components. On the highway, keep an eye on your speed. Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 miles per hour.
7) Lighten Your Load. Take unnecessary weight out of trunks, pickup beds and back seats. Every extra 100 pounds can cost you a mile per gallon in fuel economy.
8) Gas Cap. By some estimates, loose, missing or damaged gas caps allow 147 million gallons of gasoline to vaporize annually across the country.
9) Gas-Saving Gadgets. Be skeptical of claims for devices that will improve your mileage. AAA has found none that make a significant difference. Some will even harm your car’s performance.
10) Your Next Car. Hybrids and alternative fuel vehicles are getting better and better, with more power and greater fuel economy.